Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

Crazy metal fetishism.
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Tetsuo: The Iron Man - Crazy Metal Fetishism

Tetsuo: The Iron Man is a very trippy 1989 black and white movie from Japanese director Shinya Tsukamoto with a very arthouse feel to it. Concerned with imagery and symbolism rather than a coherent and straightforward storyline, Tetsuo: The Iron Man is a bizarre yet metaphorical ride through the crumbling sanity of a man whose encounter with an individual obsessed with putting bits of scrap metal into open wounds turns his life upside down. As the movie progresses the viewer is exposed to a truly abnormal world and is left wondering if the plot has taken on a sci-fi twist or they are witnessing the effects of lead poisoning on a fragile mind. Tetsuo still manages to create an unsettling atmosphere through the madness and the fast pace of the depicted events, accompanied by the industrial techno score an intense episode is created with an abrupt ending leaving a sense of "What the fuck happened there?" Shinya Tsukamoto must have been high on something when he made this and the feeling of being wasted is projected into the viewer as they soak in the craziness that is Tetsuo the Iron man's life.

The movie begins with an obviously twisted individual inserting a rusty tube of metal into a large gash on his leg, soon discovering the consequences of his peculiar fetish as the wound begins to fester with maggots he runs into the street where he is greeted by a car in the face. The unfortunate driver of the vehicle is an ordinary Japanese businessman going about his business and in a moment of panic he decides to try and cover up his misdemeanour by dumping the unlucky metal fetishist into a ravine.

Haunted by his encounter with the metal fetishist the unnamed businessman begins to experience nightmarish and paranoid visions and unusual sexual metal-based fantasies accompanied by metallic foreign objects beginning to sprout from within his body. He rapidly discovers that he is not the only person who has succumbed to the scrap metal virus but is soon unable to control the accelerating metallization of his body as he becomes an unnatural and monstrous fusion of man and machine. His overwhelming sexual desires and his emergent giant drill-penis soon puts an end to his current relationship as his unfortunate girlfriend becomes a victim of his oversized strap-on. With his life in tatters the last thing he needs to happen is to re-encounter the aforementioned car accident casualty but encounter him he does and the metal fetishist has undergone a few transformations of his own.

What ensues is a psychedelic (minus the colours) battle of metal through the streets and a sensory assault for the viewer filled with stop-motion sequences and seemingly random interjections.

Tetsuo redefines the boundaries of movies as art and although there is a real message in the movie it is hidden away so deeply in the metaphoric visualizations that it takes its place in the depths of obscurity for the first few viewings. Tetsuo is one of those movies that you either completely disregard as a cacophony of noise and imagery after the first watch or watch numerous times to try and pry the meaning from amongst the confusion. Personally I am of the multiple viewings ilk and have found new depths to the movie with each subsequent viewing. As a definite inspiration for Meatball Machine, Tetsuo lacks the violence of Yudai Yamaguchi's movie concentrating on a more atmospheric horror and a sense of unease and fear emerging from total confusion.
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Categories: Asian Horror Movies
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