TETSUO: THE IRON MAN
Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
What's it about
A strange fellow who has with a metal fetish is struck by a car and seemingly killed. Not long afterwards, the driver of the car begins to have bizarre visions and is struck with some sort of disease that starts to turn his body into pieces of junk metal. Is revenge being exacted from the grave or is something else going on?
Is it good movie?
Well, this one was certainly interesting, but Iím hard pressed to say it was good. Iím always impressed at how Japanese film makers can come up with such strange concepts and ideas, and try so hard to make them work. These notions may not always be successful, but you canít fault them for trying, and ďTetsuoĒ is no different.
The film is certainly a low budget one, running in black and white film and using few actors and locations. Also, to achieve most of the effects, they filmmakers opted for stop-motion animation and while they may have looked decent back in 1992, it doesn't hold up so well today. It seems that the film's main drawing point is story and ideas behind it (the combining of metal with flesh. This is all highlighted and certainly evidenced by the fact that thereís very little dialogue in the film to show anything other than what youíre seeing on screen. And believe me, imagery is a huge part of this bad boy. The first two-thirds of Tetsuo play out more like one strange scene after another with little of anything to explain whatís going on. Itís not until much later that we figure out (partly), whatís going on before weíre thrown back into the madness. I was left scratching my head as to just what the hell was going on and how this guy started turning into one of the Borg.
On the flip side, I did enjoy the over-the-top style of director Shinya Tsukamoto, especially his camera angles, though he sped the film up too often for my liking. There were also some fairly graphic scenes which I dug, and even a few funny parts that made me laugh out loud. Itís all about the "penis drill"!
Video / Audio
The video is presented in itís original full screen (1.33:1) ratio in black and white. Tetsuo's low budget really shines through with some grainy footage and even some scenes with small but noticeable tears or cracks in the film, which can be distracting to the viewer.
The audio is presented in either DD 5.1 Japanese, DTS 5.1 or the original mono track. The loud, frenetic music really adds to the surreal experience of watching the film.
The only extras on this "Special Edition" disc are production notes, filmographies, previews for Tartan releases as well as some for Shinya Tsukamotoís other films (canít believe thereís a ďTetsuo II: Body Hammer.Ē) In other words, not much to see here.
I was hoping to get a bit of explanation and insight, and what do I get? NATHING! NATHING!
Tetsuo's style has has been compared to other filmmakers like David Cronenberg and David Lynch. Though I havenít seen much of Lynchís work, I do like many Cronenberg films and can appreciate ďweirdĒ flicks, but the only thing I thought Tetsuo had going for it was a unique premise. Maybe I just didnít "get it", but I could only recommend this film to those who want to see just how bizarre or strange a movie can get.