19 Tetsuo – The Iron Man


Now this is hardcore.

Thinking back, despite what I may have said in the very first posting of this little odyssey , I think this is the first Japanese film I ever actively hunted down.  I know I had the film on videotape, and can even remember the shop on Tottenham Court Road I bought it from (now gone, and to be honest probably not worth weeping over). 

At the time I was massively into the cult end of horror movies – tetsuo-the-iron-man-cover-1 David Cronenberg was an obsession of mine – and I must have read about “Tetsuo – The Iron Man” in one of those wonderful magazines that have been replaced by the internet, so of course I hunted it down as best I could.

It was a shocking and harsh experience.  Watching the DVD version today only bought back how different it could have looked on a grainy cheap video. 

So what is this film I hear you ask?  Well it is a 65 minute black and white industrial horror movie.  Think “Eraserhead”, think “Pi”, think “Night of the Living Dead”.  I think what happens is a man and his girlfriend accidentally knock over a man who is addicted to replacing his body parts with metal.  They dump his body, have sex in front of the corpse, and then the man ends up turning into a metal creature himself.  Seriously.

The first half of this film is amazing.  Jump cuts, quick editing, amazing soundtrack, flash backs, nightmares, this is super style on a budget.  And obviously directed with a passion.

To be honest, the 2nd half of the film is taken up with and over-long battle between the two antagonists, and it feels a bit of a stretch at 65 minutes in length (and yes I know there is a remake/sequel of sorts).

This is as inventive a movie as you will ever see – and if it did not influence film-makers such as Takashi Miike I would be absolutely shocked.

However, it is not essential viewing.  It really is quite hardcore, not just in subject matter but as a viewing experience.  Do as I do, and revisit it once a decade. 


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