Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Movie Review: Tetsuo - The Iron Man (Tetsuo) - 1989

Industrial stop-motion madness

IMDBShinya Tsukamoto's "Tetsuo" is 67 minutes of screaming, violence, sex, stop motion effects, crazy laughter, and industrial music. It's also frantically edited and shot in black and white. That doesn't necessarily sound like fun, but it is.  As far as I could tell after a second viewing, the story is about a man with a metal fetish who cuts his body to insert metal parts, thereby gaining psychical power over metal that he uses to take revenge on a clerical worker and his girlfriend by making metal grow out of the man's body. Or perhaps it is about something completely different, who knows.

Do not mistake this for a Japanese version of Marvel's "Ironman". There are no fancy iron suits but messes of  pipes, wires, and other metal parts growing insanely fast like tumors and melding with bodies. The men aren't superheroes but monstrosities. And the style is avant-garde with lots of confusing images, making the movie feel like a vision from Kafka rather than cyberpunk.

So, how can this be fun? First, "Tetsuo" is frantic, it never gives you a break to ponder what you're actually watching. This could have turned out immensely annoying - well, I suppose some people will think of the movie just that way. But it worked for me. It made the movie a pure visual and acoustic experience unlike any other. Second, it's quite hilarious. The movie is so over the top weird that I had to laugh some times.

"Tetsuo" is one of a kind. Except for the two sequels that Tsukamoto made, which are actually more of the same. "Tetsuo - The Bullet Man", notably, was made by 20 years after the first one, and it's more accessible but - maybe because of that - also less fun.

Rating: 8 out of 10 strange things growing out of your body.