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  • Shinya Tsukamoto's Tetsuo has been one of my favourite ultra underground Japanese films for some time now. I've watched it many times, and the film is always as effective, stunning and outstanding as it was when I first saw it. Now I viewed it again last night, and I am totally shocked and speechless, when it comes to this masterpiece of Shinya Tsukamoto, the genius multi talent behind films like Tokyo Fist (just don't try to watch if you think Raging Bull is too much), Gemini and Bullet Ballet. If I had to choose one film among all the films that really blew me away like this, I'd probably choose Tetsuo.

    The "plot" and premise is simple. A metal fetishist (played by the director himself) inserts pieces of metal into his own body with often bloody results, understandably. He becomes run down by a car after which the fetishist starts to have very severe changes in his body and starts to mutate into human/metal monster and the man who ran him down starts to have similar changes in his body, too.. What follows is 60 minutes of total surreal mayhem, nightmarish imagery and use of perhaps all the imaginable cinematic techniques in editing, photography and music. You have been warned!

    It is hard to describe with words the power of this film, which has often been referred as a combination of Lynch, Cronenberg and of course Anime and Sci-fi. The photography is stunning to say the least as director's 16mm camera twists, turns, runs, falls, climbs, zooms and does all the possible ways the director could invent to create this kind of atmosphere. The film consists of (very) fast edits, flashbacks, nightmare sequences and images and fast forward photography that spiced with incredible soundtrack is something never before seen. The soundtrack is made with different sounds of metal hitting together, scratching against something and most notable, there is also synthesizer use to create very ominous and threatening atmosphere that never stops, and the music is again one of the most important elements of this film.

    The effects are totally outstanding as the director made them by himself. The film is black and white and that is of course great choice to nightmare film like this. Tsukamoto also wrote, directed, photographed, art directed and edited this film among special effects, and the most help he got came probably from Kei Fujiwara, who plays the girl friend in the movie, and she also directed her own similar film, Organ, in the middle of the 90's. It is incredible how Tsukamoto managed to do all this by himself and the help of some others, but due to his talent, it all becomes possible. This film is very low budget, but it is the kind of punch to senses that only very few big budget films have managed to give. If I had to choose one "big budgeted" film that has almost equally stunning atmosphere and power, I'd mention Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream, which is another masterpiece from this young director/writer. Still Requiem and Tetsuo are very different films, but their power is almost - if not entirely - equal.

    The theme of the film is obviously the fear of technology and how far it will be developed. The film ends pretty pessimistically and it underlines the fears and threats that are in the air and were in Tsukamoto's mind, too. The images of huge metal machines and motors at the beginning of the movie, are very ominous and the machines seem to be alive and are very nightmarish overall, even though they should be DEAD machines because metal doesn't live, at least yet. This reminded me of work of David Lynch and his Eraserhead and Lost Highway, which both create something very ominous, dangerous and very scary with these similar techniques of close ups of water spilling, engines working and smoke coming closer. Just remember the images of radiator and coffee-pot in Eraserhead and mystery man and smoke (among many others) in Lost Highway. The feeling in Tetsuo is exactly similar, even though the things themselves are not scary or threatening, because they should be only dead pieces of metal and plastic, products in other words.

    Shinya Tsukamoto made also sequel to Tetsuo, but it is in color and never as stunning as this brilliant original, but still worth checking out for lovers of this kind of cinema. Shinya Tsukamoto is among Takeshi Kitano, Takashi Ishii and Takashi Miike the most interesting, personal, creatively lunatic and overall stunning artists to come from Japan today, and by watching their films, all the nonsense entertainment coming too often from Hollywood nowadays is easy to forget and just concentrate on these miracles in the field of cinema. Cinema is magic and Tetsuo is one example to show that for the lovers of independent films, since this is not going to reveal to mainstream audience due to its difficult imagery, violent scenes of nightmarish terror and overall personality that demands a lot from the viewer. This is far too difficult and intelligent cinema for mainstream audience, and thus would never come out from some big studio that wants only money and commercially potential films.

    Tetsuo is a 10/10 masterpiece and one of my personal favourites. I've tried to describe this film as clearly as possible, and without using too many praising adjectives, and since this movie's power is somewhat hard to describe with words, I recommend that all the lovers of Japanese cinema and the ones who think they're interested in Tetsuo check this out and see and experience the magic for themselves.
  • It's so visually striking that you could never fully describe Tetsuo in words. But here are a few that apply: Japanese, hyperactive, perverse, industrial, surreal, Faustian bargain, contrasty, black-and-white, Kafkaesque, scifi, stop-motion, manga-influenced, revenge, technology, alienation, supervillains.

    Shinya Tsukamoto is an actor (he's the antagonistic "Metals Fetishist" here as well as Jijii in Ichi the Killer) as well as a ground-breaking writer/director/cinematographer. Tetsuo's influence can be seen clearly in directors as diverse as Darren Aronofsky, Takashi Miike, and even David Cronenberg.

    There is definitely a plot, but due to the non-linear editing and sparsity of dialogue you'll need to pay close attention on a first viewing or else you'll be overwhelmed by the engrossing visual style (which might be a good thing). It's filmed in contrasty black-and-white. Each frame is cramped and chaotic, much of the time it's filled with wires, pipes, chain-link fences, and all the other incidental debris of life in the late 20th century... which suddenly seems significant and even menacing.

    Towards the fifty-minute mark (it's 67 min. total) the willful excess starts to feel a little too excessive, perhaps the manga influence is a bit too strong. But Tetsuo finishes strong, with an end that's at once unexpected and inevitable. Highly recommended.
  • Japan is a crazy country. Their workaholism is affecting western culture all the time. Coming to Tokyo first time, one can get lost not only in translation, hehe, but mostly in all these technological gadgets that leave you with only three questions: "what the hell is this for?", "what the hell is that for?", and "how the hell does it work?". On one side, coming to Japan, one might see something very rare today: amazing technology next to tradition, remains of culture hundreds and thousands years old. But on the other, Japanese does seem to have a lot of fear about all that technology. Won't that materialistic, technological approach kill emotional and spiritual aspects of human existence? There has been made a lot of movies asking that question, projecting hypothetical versions of future based on what Japan looks like today. See Ghost in the Shell for example. Yeah, alright, but what does Tetsuo have to do with all that crap? Everything. This Tsukamoto piece of art is a manifestation of great great fear of cold and soulless technology. Main character is a guy who has rather serious problem: one day he notices that metal parts are slowly beginning to reveal themselves from under his skin. Why, and what does it mean? Where will it lead to? You'll see. What I can say is that you don't need to live in Japan to enjoy this movie. The atmosphere is amazingly unconventional, and can be compared only to other industrial/anti-industrial masterpieces of Japanese cinema. The movie is black and white only all the time. Camera work is incredible, it builds intense paranoid atmosphere. If you've seen other Shinya's movies, you know what you can expect. The way the story is told, with all these cut-and-paste elements... oh God :D If you've already seen some totally psyched-out movies like this one, you might get a laugh sometimes, otherwise I guarantee you'll be strongly shocked, because as I said before: you probably haven't seen anything like this before, so watch your back, you have been warned ;) Budget used to make this movie may be equal to something like two cokes and a hamburger, but, as we can see, some don't waste even that small amount of money. There are movies made with a little help of millions of dollars which are not even worth a cent. On the other side, there are gems like this, where you can't notice signs of low-budget, because it doesn't harm this movie even in one moment. I can't think of one thing I'd change in this movie. Highly recommended, this one is a blast!

    PS. If you're willing to get some other Tsukamoto movies, avoid Hiruko the Goblin.
  • This is another one of those films where you have the "sheer brilliance 10/10" battling against the "worst film of all time 1/10" people. I'm not partial to either, I wanted to see this film after watching a preview that was so intense it made my brain hurt. So I absolutely had to pick it up at the video store.

    Tetsuo, more than anything, is absolutely surreal. The cinematography and camera work is way ahead of its time, and I have never seen anything quite like it. The stop motion and use of metal twine and scrap is stunning and also menacing, especially with the heavy industrial-electronic soundtrack thumping throughout most of the film. I imagine that some scenes must have taken ages to go through frame by frame and create the visual image of cyberpunk terror that is conveyed in this film.

    Besides these things I can't credit the film for much else. Some say it's impossible to follow, but the story is quite simple. A metal fetishist that has been inserting pieces of metal into his body is hit by a car, and begins to transform and haunt the person responsible. Then he begins to transform, and his world quickly spirals down as he becomes the metal obsessed monster that his crash victim was already into. However, there are lots of parts of this film that don't contribute to the overall image of the film, and a few scenes that could have been replaced with something entirely different and were a little slow and unnecessary. While hilarious, there is a scene involving the man and his "woman" (as credited) that, while serving a purpose, became more of a sick joke than a part of the film.

    As the movie continues on you get more and more lost as to what is going on when cuts become more frequent and the film becomes extremely frantic and fast paced. I viewed it a second time to see if I missed anything, but I felt the same after a second view. Tetsuo is good for its expiremental editing and cinematography, and has its place in cyberpunk filmography. But if you're looking for a film with solid scriptwriting and direction, you're not going to be happy.

    Sheer genius? On some aspects, yes. Worst movie ever? You have to be kidding me. There isn't much talking in this film, and the worst films ever have way too much talking in them. Sometimes it's nice to have the actors shut up and, maybe, scream in terror at a piece of metal sticking out of their face instead.
  • sporazoa11 March 2000
    I can honestly say that this is the strangest movie I have ever seen. It is not bad, just really weird. There doesn't seem to be any other way to describe it well. It's also very easy to get lost in it. Crazy camera action. Crazy things. Crazy people. WEIRD!
  • Wow. Unreal. You know what it feels like to bite down on aluminum foil or hearing chalk scratch on a blackboard through Bose speakers over and over again? This resembles what a viewing experience you'll have watching Tetsuo.

    Trippy, bizarre, surreal. The sequence of events are just mind boggling that it's a bit trying to take it all in at once. The black and white definitely shows a very gritty, bleak environment and there's great use of dark color tones and shadow. Add some manic performances, great camera angles, and a very raw hardcore soundtrack which just intensifies the insanity even more. Definitely have to give it to the design crew because their attention to detail adds to the overall weirdness. There's even a love story in it too!

    Very cool flick.
  • This movie can be explored in many ways: the relationship between human life and technology is the first which comes to mind. Then maybe this fits into a larger theme of industrialization. Still, there are several ways of interpreting each scene and at times I had the feeling that they try to show - or to produce a metaphor for - human emotions, such as cheating, sorrow, the will not to die alone. "And we can rust the whole world and scatter it into the dust of universe" You will certainly make what you want of this movie. You may understand that technology is evil, that industrialization takes our souls away, or that even in our worst moments we crave for closeness and we don't want to be alone. This is a special movie - so beware - it is not accessible to most people. There's a chance that you won't be able to think for yourself and that you'll expect some quick & nice Hollywood conclusions which you're not going to get - in which case, this movie will be a waste of your time.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Title: Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

    Director: Shinya Tsukamoto

    Cast: Tomorowo Taguchi, Kei Fujiwara, Nobu Kanaoka, Shinya Sukamoto


    Just when you think you've seen it all....a movie like this comes around and totally kicks you in the butt! This movie was amazing! It needs more exposure! More people should check it out! OK, OK, let me get down to the review...but once more: go rent this now! Story is about this regular every day ordinary guy who hits a pedestrian with his car. Only thing is that the pedestrian is a guy who is somehow becoming an...Iron Man. You see the guy they hit is a "metal fetishist" and for some reason that isn't explained he wants to become one with rusty pieces of metal. After the accident the man starts having nightmares about he and his girlfriend turning into robotic, metallic things. When he wakes up he realizes that it could also be happening to him in real life.

    Man was this movie a visual feast! It was shot entirely in black and white, but believe me, it takes nothing away from the film. If anything it makes it all the more visually interesting.

    The movie reads in many ways like a nightmare on film. At least that was the first impression I got while I was watching it. In this sense it is strictly a horror movie. Some of the images are truly terrifying in a surreal dream like sort of way.

    The movies themes remind me a heck of a lot of David Cronenbergs films. You know how Cronenberg deals with films about sex and violence (Shivers, Crash, The Brood) and how they are somehow interconnected with each other? Well those themes are also touched upon in this movie in one of its most memorable scenes which I will not spoil...but will certainly surprise you. Even the part of the movie that deals with the car accident reminded me a bit of Cronenbergs Crash, mainly because the couple decides to make out after the car accident.

    Not only that this movie also reminds me of a David Lynch movie...because yes, at times it will seem incomprehensible. It took me two viewings to fully understand it, but I got it pretty well the second time around. The story itself is not all that confusing...but the way it was edited and shot make it a little hard to grasp what is really happening. Its all very kinetic, very fast, always moving. The story moves along at a frenetic pace not giving you any chance to breath. Many people compare this film to Lynchs Erasehead, and some even go as far to say that this film is even stranger and weirder than Eraserhead. I myself haven't had the chance to check out Eraserhead...but I know what type of films Lynch is capable of doing and if they say that Tetsuo: The Iron Man is weirder then Eraserhead...well you know your in for something truly bizarre then.

    The gore in it is memorable with some really cringe inducing scenes...specially those where the man is transforming into the robot metal thing and he is having sex with his girlfriend.

    The special make up effects are great. Lots of cables and metal things coming out of every conceivable body part. Yes, even there. Tetsuo, the Iron Man looks like a huge hunk of metal coming to life with wires and cables and metallic objects. There's no real visual effects or CGI, the effects are more practical and on camera. Lots of fast forwarding, lots of quick cuts, lots of stop motion animation, lots of every quirky camera movements. It all helps to give the movie that incredibly frenetic look that it has.

    Overall this is a great Japanese horror film that shouldn't be missed by anyone! Its kind of like a mix between Lynch and Cronenberg and maybe even a little bit of George Romero in there! There was this scene with a girl turning into what felt like a zombie robot...that just reminded me of Night of the Living Dead. Its amazingly interesting in a visual sense and you will feel like if you ever had a dream about your body being over taken by rusty metals and wires...this is what it would definitely look like. Not to be missed.

    Rating: 5 out of 5
  • "Tetsuo: the Iron Man" is utter chaos. Shinya Tsukamoto has created a strange world of metal fetishists and human decay. To make it all the more insane, it's filmed at the pace of a speed adrenaline rush. An office worker slowly transforms into a mutated metal creature after cutting himself shaving. Wires, drills, cables and steel burst from his face and body. And who can forget the giant metal drill penis? The office worker faces off with a villain who has a metal fetish. The villain enjoys sticking metal objects in himself. The film turns into a battle to the finish between the two men. "Tetsuo" has to be one of the strangest films ever made. Stranger than both "Eraserhead" and "Begotten". It's fast pace style can be later seen in films like PI. Thank God, this film is in black and white; it's extremely graphic!
  • I heard about this movie reading a comic book magazine in elementary school. It piqued my interest and I searched for it on video for rental for several months before finding it. Also included on the video was a short film entitled "Drum struck" which didn't interest me at all. The real meat was Tetsuo.

    The "plot" of this film revolves around a businessman (who apparently like to have sex with his girlfriend in public places and film it) who is involved in a hit and run auto accident with a metal fetishist. Soon the man appears to be hallucinating about people sprouting metal appendages until it begins to happen to him. Chunks of scrap metal grow like cancerous tumors. Soon, they're not random scraps but working appliances such as drills. If this isn't bad enough he soon finds out the man he hit (played by the director of the film) is in fact alive and rather peeved.

    Absolutely insane violence permeates the film which retains its punch through the black and white film.

    The review I read about this film compared it to Eraserhead (A film I still have not seen) which I believe says a lot about Eraserhead. To compare it to a film I've seen I'd say it reminds me of "Un Chien Andalou" with about three more lines of dialog and a lot more gore and violence.

    I also recommend the sequel Tetsuo II: Body Hammer. It's similar but bigger. Color, dialog, etc.

  • This is a very artsy and experimental film that is full of disturbing and phantasmagorical images. It is difficult to watch and follow at times. Best viewed as an experiment.
  • Tetsuo is, perhaps, the most brilliant film I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. I feel that most viewers are not mature enough/experienced with extreme cinema to look beneath the superficial "story," of which there is very little, to appreciate the wealth of subtext lurking beneath the most mind-blowing and exhilarating hour and seven minutes ever committed to film.

    At once, it is an allegory of technology in the modern age (and the dehumanizing effect it has on its unwitting victims), a commentary on the psycho-sexual fetishization of industrialization, a critique of vengeance and violence, a celebration of nihilism and the potential beauty of destruction, a deranged superhero fantasy, a metaphor for failed dreams, an indictment of sexual repression (including homosexuality) and, at its core, a modern day ghost story, in which a hit and run driver (of sorts; he does carelessly dump the metal fetishist's body in the woods) is haunted by his metal-obsessed, ambiguously homosexual, marathon runner victim, a crazed nihilist who has acquired the ability to manipulate metal with his mind after a piece of steel (from the car) became lodged in his brain during the accident. In this modern age, the fear of the afterlife and the spirit has been replaced with that of technology gone haywire, the fear of weapons falling into in the "wrong" hands and of a human creation rising up to overcome, overpower and, ultimately, destroy the humans responsible for it. The events of the film, when taken to be no more than the actual images depicted, are too disturbing, complex and, ultimately, too alien, for the average, unthinking audience member to make heads or tails of, and thus are insulted as pointless, "offensive" and "weird," as if these highly subjective concepts denote something inherent in the movie. If you are one who can handle complex films with fairly simple story lines told in a completely non-linear fashion (what we actual artists/filmmakers call USING THE ART FORM!), then, please, do yourself a favor and buy this film immediately! You will gain something new from it each time you view it (I have seen it over thirty times and am still learning!). If you, however, are unable to read (and read into) images (the currency with which the medium of film traffics), and are unable to handle "weird" things without being spoonfed clear cut "heros" and "villains," then rent/buy "Titanic" and leave complex films to the thinkers and artists and revel in your own ignorance, but do not put down Shinya Tsukamoto, a man who has won my undying respect with ONE film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Well - sometime back in the early '90s I saw that a minor local theater was showing something called "Tetsuo - The Bodyhammer". It claimed to be comic book-like, and being a comic collector, I went to see it. It was really weird, with not much of a clear narrative. It was about a guy who could shoot rusty iron from his hands. Or something. It's a long time since I saw it. Anyway, it turns out it was the sequel to the earlier "Tetsuo - The Iron Man", which is apparently a huge cult classic and a milestone in surrealist cinema.

    Last night, I watched The Iron Man with some friends. I'm generally not into horror, nor horrific surrealism, and sure enough, I did not enjoy watching this movie. I was grateful that it was only an hour long. However, I do pride myself on being an appreciator of art movies, and although I thought this movie was mostly just a piece of artsy self-indulgence, I have to say it is interesting and difficult to come up with a good interpretation.

    Several possible interpretations struck me as I watched it, and the other user comments here also mention some of them. Was it a movie about trans-humanism; about how our carnal vessels are nothing but trouble and we should replace them with superior, adaptable, changing metal bodies? Or, was it about fear of invasive technology which alienates and dehumanizes us, leaving us without compassion and conscience? A modern Kafkaesque Metamorphosis? Or, was it a tale of a traumatic homosexual awakening, which in fact many elements of the movie suggest? And, what about the ending? Were the characters good or evil by the end? Was the movie hostile to technology or positive towards it? Opinions are divided, possibilities are endless. The only thing definite that I and my friends could come up with was that the movie chronicles some kind of transition. A deeply stressful, traumatic and accidentally triggered transition which includes all sorts of aspects of human life. But a transition which concludes in a new state of happiness. Perhaps the movie is simply a general description of the human condition, and our passage from one set of circumstances to another - perhaps the change from natural man to technological man.

    It is to the movie's credit that there are so many possible interpretations, but I do wonder how much of it is true art, and how much of it is simply the director's fascination with weird effects. Still, it is certainly an art movie, and cannot be dismissed as trivial. It wasn't very enjoyable to me - noisy, ugly, repulsive, confusing. I understand that these are the tools with which the movie makes its point, but this is just not my idea of effective entertainment, artistic or otherwise.

    7 out of 10.
  • How can I explain "Tetsuo Iron Man" hum.. a few words spring to mind but I have no wish to be banned from this website so I will Keep those to myself. Its takes the basic "technology takes over" theme that is so common in contemporary Japanese sci-fi films like "the Ghost in the Shell" but fails to explain how and why it is doing so and therefore loses the intelligent philosophy that makes this brand of sci-fi so great. In fact it fails to explain anything so you will sit on the sofa in a state of confusion that will not lessen on repeated viewings until you come to realise as I have that there is no reasoning behind this film.

    Take "Akira" without any character development whatsoever, minus the amazing action action sequences, minus Otomo's skill at directing and scriptwriting, lose the detailed world in which it takes place, replace the Japanese drums and naked voice soundtrack with good old fashioned industrial and of course replace the Cristal clear animation with grainy black and white that looks like it was shot with a nineteen thirty's handicam and you have "Tetsuo, Iron Man!"

    Basically the plot is the same, Tetsuo has a traffic accident with someone who has unusual powers, develops those powers, kill his girlfriend in a grotesque manner then an orgy of violence and manga style metamorphosis ensues. However while "Akira" discussed the dynamics of tetsuo and Kanada's friendship and has additional themes and sub plots of a repressive government regime, a city in revolution and the nature of god "Tetsuo" just depicts the main character running around in circles for an agonising 60 minute's. I believe it omitted anything else as there were no other characters or events.

    If this wasn't enough the editor was clearly unsure about the order in which the scenes were intended to go (if indeed they were intended to go in any particular order) so they were simply spliced into one second shots and shuffled like a deck of cards so that each shot barely corresponds to the once which precedes it.

    Try as I might I cannot understand why this film has had such a positive reception from the various websites I have encountered, so I assume that there must be an audience for films where loosely related scenes are jumbled together like a Spanish paella (and I mean no offence to those of you to do like to watch films without narrative) But I can't help thinking that Tsukamoto's "masterpiece" Tetsuo takes all the worst elements from Manga like the flashing lights and unexplained morphing and put them in a live action film that doesn't include any of the good elements that make manga great or for that matter any good elements in the slightest.
  • This weird film is about a man who has some weird fetish for sticking metal objects into his body (!). However, one day the fetishist is accidentally killed by a salary man (Tomorowo Taguchi) who was driving a car, the salary man hides the body by dumping it into a ravine. However, the fetishist gets his revenge by coming back to life and make the man suffer by slowly turning some of his body into scrap metal, making him become part-human and part-metal. It's a lot more weird than it sounds but it's highly recommended (mostly to fans of David Lynch and David Cronenberg). It's filled with great stop-motion and makeup effects, has a cool soundtrack and has a plot that's totally bizarre yet very original. There is no doubt that this movie is one of the best underground films of all time.
  • Now I'm not gonna say that this is my favorite movie of all time, for two main reasons. One, I've only seen it twice, and two, I can never be absolutely sure that I've actually seen it once it's over. It's more like a series of feverish, metallic images injected directly into your brain with a large bore needle. And I don't mean that in a bad way. Not at all. The first time I watched it, it completely floored me, even though I wasn't able to discern the faintest whiff of a plot. However, after spending some time on the internet, reading plot summaries provided by wirehead horror fanatics and anime buffs, it became crystal clear the second time. To try to summarize it here would only make me sound like a lunatic and it would give no real idea of what goes on in the course of this movie. The rapid-fire editing, the moody black and white cinematography, the spectacular gross-out effects... sure they've all been done before, but rarely have they been so effectively compressed into such an out of control mass of film. These images are completely unlike anything that would ever get a release in America. If you want the ultimate change of pace, Tetsuo is your man. One more problem I should mention: I usually think I have a high pretension threshold, but even I had to chuckle at some scenes. If it were more grounded and had a more immediately discernible plot, it'd be right up there with "Pi" on my list of paranoid brain twisters. But then again, if it were these things, it would not be Tetsuo. See it for what it is, a pure adrenaline rush of film that today's blockbuster "roller coaster rides" can't hope to achieve.
  • I have yet to actually meet anyone in Japan named Tetsuo, but I would like to. The only two Tetsuo's I remember from my cinematic childhood are both pretty gloomy. One is the fleshy bubble-burst-hangover Tetsuo who battles Akira in the renowned anime movie that sparked my serious interest in Japanese culture. The other is the main character of TETSUO (1988) who takes the repressed bubble economy psychosis of Japanese salary-men to legendary extremes. This movie is not for the weak of heart, nor is it the least bit bright or happy in any way. TETSUO is a dirty, rusty movie that will leave your insides scarred for life.

    To begin with, when I watched this videotape several years ago, a short film Drum Beat was featured before the movie. It was rather good, but I can't remember any of the details. I'm assuming that the director of that film had gone on to make more good stuff. I don't know.

    However I do know that the director of TETSUO went on to direct a sequel four years later, Tetsuo II: Body Hammer, which was a frustrating disappointment. First of all, the sequel is shot in color, which instantly places it closer to a cheap R-rated Power Rangers than anything I'd pay money to see. Second of all, the sequel is too long and makes too many desperate attempts to link itself to the first installment. If you liked the first TETSUO, chances are you'll be largely disappointed by the second.

    That said, I really don't know what to say about the original TETSUO. It has a feverish tech-no score, maximized use of low-budget corrugated pipes and household wires, and an ominous creepiness akin to that traditional Japanese reptile-lady with the long neck. With that imagery set in place, the concept behind the movie pushes the gut-barrier to new lows. The main character loses his soul and mind and uncontrollably changes into a mechanical monster. TETSUO is artistically convincing, in contrast to some of the contrived robot stuff out there, and holds your attention long enough to start sparking and gyrating like a mechanized pizza in a cheap microwave-on-wheels. And speaking of microwavable pizza, this movie isn't too long either.

    Please watch this movie if you have a chance, because one, it's unlike anything I've ever seen before or since, and two, because corporate Japan hasn't really changed at all since this sick movie was brought wheezing and spurting into this world.

    Do you want to take over the world together?

    Sure, why the hell not.

  • "Tetsuo, the Iron Man" is among the strangest independent films I have ever seen. It isn't just because of the low budget black and white cinematography but the story--one that is incredibly strange, brutal and surreal. The film is packed with blood, violence and is one best not to watch if you don't have a very high tolerance for this sort of stuff--and my bet is that this includes most people! You certainly wouldn't want to show this to Granny (unless you were trying to kill her) or your kids (unless you want to turn them into psychopaths)!

    The story is very choppy, has very little dialog and often seems to be missing a clear storyline. It begins with some freaky guy living among metallic junk--and he's shoving pieces of metal into his body! It's pretty hard-core stuff--complete with blood, guts and maggots! Soon, he's run over in an accident that cost nothing to stage--because they don't show the accident in order to save money. Next, a man is talking to his girlfriend on the phone about the incident and tells her he's feeling strange since the hit and run. Following this, the guy has a LONG surreal hallucination about a woman who is made up of flesh and metal--as he, too, is becoming metal. She torments him for a long time, becomes a monster and rapes him brutally. Then, he wakes up to find that while it was a hallucination, he still is having metal erupt from his body. He and his girlfriend then make out like monkeys. All this only in the first 20 minutes of the film!! I haven't even gotten to the portion where he has a giant spinning metal screw for genitals!! Need I go on?! I really don't think so.

    The bottom line is that this is a film with almost no audience. Unless you love indie horror, Japanese films, extreme violence, sexual sadism AND surrealism, then you'll probably find the whole thing rather repellent. Believe it or not, actually found the film a bit boring after a while because it was so excessive there really couldn't be anything else to offend or surprise me after a while.
  • Warning: Spoilers

    A pretentious, foreign language film in monochrome with subtitles? Right up my street, surely? Sadly, no.

    Less a film, more a series of disjointed random images, Tetsuo is Doctor Who's Cybermen for art students. Some of the images are striking, and stunningly filmed in black and white, but this is more the masturbatory offering of a directorial undergraduate than a film for public consumption.

    Vague story seems to revolve around Tomoroh Taguchi feeling emasculated by his girlfriend and imagining that emasculation in terms of industrialisation. His girlfriend suggestively eats a sausage, but it does him no good – all he can hear is a scraping metal sound whenever she takes a bite. He also has what appears to be a dream whereby she rapes him with a giant plug extension sprouting from her crotch – now there's penis envy for you! Mind you, Taguchi certainly knows how to fight back – he grows a drill for a John Thomas and tries to rape her to death, with a (translated) "You want a taste of my sewage pipe?" What a silver-tongued charmer.

    Surprisingly, in the midst of all this full-on pseudo-sexual shenanigans, Tetsuo manages to be very, very boring, seeming much longer than its 63m runtime. The soundtrack is occasional pop and white noise, though largely industrial clatter. Sort of like that dance troupe who clank dustbin lids at Royal Variety Performances.

    Eventually the TV set that Taguchi has in his mind drives him mad with visions of infidelity, and so he goes on a rampage against electrical appliances. The technology (Technology = bad!) is defeated by white liquid shooting from his pores (Sperm? Sperm = good!) However, it's not all over, worse luck, as an enemy attempts to destroy him in a plethora of stop-motion gunk.

    Largely dialogue-free at the best of times, the film then undertakes a high-speed chase, sort of like Benny Hill, except their feet aren't moving. The two foes eventually join together to take over the world as one metallic, fused entity. A satire over fears of homosexuality? Or just a load of old pants? You decide. As far as I'm concerned Tetsuo is one of those films that is put together in such a wilfully obscure fashion so as to convince you its worthwhile. It isn't.
  • dude-124 October 1998
    I have a pretty open mind to alternative films, but I have to say that I really had to force myself to watch the last forty five minutes of this movie. The concept was interesting, but viewing stop-action non stop is damaging to the's like Gumby on benzadrine. Good luck watching this one! p.s. Make sure you're not eating bq ribs while viewing this film.
  • Okay, here's my best shot at describing Tetsuo The Iron Man: What if Seth Brundle's DNA was merged with a scrapyard and the contents of Radio Shack instead of an insect?

    The above sentence doesn't even come close to adequately summarising what this surreal experimental Japanese horror is about, mainly because, to be totally honest, I didn't have a clue. A mind-boggling hour-and-a-bit of kinetic visuals, accompanied by a cacophonous industrial soundtrack, Tetsuo appears to be more about the cyberpunk aesthetic than it is the narrative, although apparently there's a story in there somewhere, amidst the writhing wires, flailing tubes and whirling phallic drillheads - I just wasn't able to find it, possibly because of the intense headache I got from all of the manic black and white visuals and the horrible clanking sounds that pass for music.

    Shin'ya Tsukamoto's debut undeniably possesses bags of energy and boundless creativity, but the manner in which it is presented is so inaccessible that only the most pretentious fans of cult cinema would hail this as a masterpiece. At best, it's an interesting curiosity; at worst, it's a reason to reach for the ibuprofen.

    3/10. Could have done with being at least half the length - the shorter the better, in my opinion.
  • This is probably one of my favorite movies of all time. The editing and soundtrack makes it a masterpiece. If you're into movies like Eraserhead, Begotten and the Guinea Pig series, Tetsuo is the perfect movie for you.
  • Unendurable, incomprehensible assault on the senses. Not really shocking or disturbing, because most of the time you don't even know what exactly you're looking at. Actually, this must be one of the worst films I've ever seen, but it has enough amazing (for what they cost) effects and bizarre images to warrant a viewing. But you'd better be prepared...(*1/2)
  • Tetsuo is one of my favorite movies. With a riveting soundtrack (pardon the pun), incredible "diy" style effects, subtle metaphors and staggering self-awareness, Tetsuo remains a film that stands alone as a "one of a kind" that has earned its place in subculture history for years to come. Revoting, sexy, absurd, humorous, driving and cryptic, Tetsuo is a film that may leave you scratching your head, but you'll be doing it with a smile on your face and an urge to gather up your art supplies, throw on some Skinny Puppy and have yourself a canvas mutilation session. I give this film 10/10 because I can find no wrong with it. It's not for everyone, but for some it fits like a virulent cybernetic viral arm cast in velvet.
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