Director – Shinya Tsukamoto
Cast – Tomorowo Taguchi, Kei Fujiwara, Nobu Kanaoka, Shinya Tsukamoto, Naomasa Musaka
Release Year – 1989
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Most people associated with insane Japanese films know of Tetsuo: The Iron Man, one of the pinnacle efforts that made Japan the powerhouse it is in regards to insane-plotted films that do nothing but kick nonstop ass. While not a scary film outright, this landmark flick provides for great horror in its subject matter, which is sure to scare the dimples off your arse if you ever found yourself in such a situation, and coupled with awesome and intense direction Tetsuo: The Iron Man is one of the most legendary horror experiences of all time.
When a strange man known as the “metal fetishist”, a man with an insane drive to impale scrap metal into his body, is hit and most likely killed by a Japanese motorist enjoying a cruise with his girlfriend, the driver begins to suffer terrible changes to his body and psyche. He is slowly being overcome by a disease turning his body into metal, and soon learns that the man he “killed” is in fact not dead, and is masterminding the man’s terrible, rage-fueled transformation.
While a good amount of the hype behind Tetsuo: The Iron Man is regarding its long-lasting impact on the Japanese film industry, it is also a damn good film as well. Coming in at just over 60 minutes, this sophomore effort (although his first notable effort) from Shinya Tsukamoto(Tetsuo II: Body Hammer, Tetsuo: The Bullet Man, Hiruko the Goblin, Tokyo Fist) takes off right away and delivers the weird in heavy fashion. His storyline about a man obsessed with sticking metal/iron objects into his body is a sweet idea in my opinion, and it only grows in awesomeness when his condition is involuntarily spread to the man who hit him with his vehicle, turning this piece from a weird and surreal effort to a battle royale when the two warring parties meet and dish out the goods. The story is not very confusing, as are other weird Japanese pieces, but the levels of “weird” and zaniness reign high and make for an exciting storyline that consists of many developments, some of which are oddly sexual (of course, it’s a Japanese film) and make for numerous scenes that you will never forget; which was the case for me with the man’s turbo charged metal penis.
Writer/director/actor Shinya Tsukamoto did a great job executing this piece, giving us a black and white experience that truly benefited from a lack of color. The idea to go black and white could have been budget related, but nonetheless it was a genius move that played into the feel of the piece as we follow a man’s frustrating and rage-fueled transformation into a body of metal, which normally lacks color like the film does. Tsukamoto’s execution is very visceral and experimental, leaving few lines of dialogue and making for much usage of what is going on before the viewer to move the film, and he makes the most of that by giving us much to view. The transformation scenes were incredible, giving us awesome live-action costumes and plenty of insane antics that came to us via full-frontal direction. When I mentioned that the film contained many memorable scenes that you will never forget, that is solely due to how Tsukamoto delivered them to the viewer; he does not give you a choice, you WILL remember this one for life.
Overall, Tetsuo: The Iron Man is a fantastic Japanese horror film that gives us a great story delivering physical and psychological horror and makes for a landmark effort in the realm of zany Japanese horror. Tsukamoto is fantastic in executing this piece, giving us live-action and insane horror with a kick-you-in-the-face mentality that is sure to please those who enjoy these films and those who want an experience they will never forget.