This has nothing to do with Akira but I find the similarities interesting.
I didn’t know what to expect from this movie. It has been sitting in my list on Shudder for two reasons: the summary sounded interesting, as well as it being a black and white Japanese film.
However, I was not expecting this movie to linger with me days later. That has only happened with my recent trips into Italian horror (mostly Lucio Fulci’s films) and now getting these scattered thoughts out, Tetsuo is still playing in my head.
Here’s a short review of 1989’s body horror/Cyberpunk/fetish film… Tetsuo: The Iron Man.
The summary is quite simple: we are watching our main character slowly losing his mind and body to transform into a mutated, iron, metal being. And it’s painful, it’s rough, it’s comedic at times but it’s brutal. From the first scene where we are watching a man cut himself open and insert a metal rod of some kind into his thigh and watching it assimilate into him, I immediately got where this movie was going. The high tension, the anxiety, we are in that head space of this man losing grip on reality as his body is changing rapidly.
Be prepared to feel disoriented in some way. I am a visually stimulated person so for me, my senses were thrown the fuck off.
I can still hear the movie in my head as in the sounds of scraping a metal fork against your teeth, popping noises, maniacal laughing, and the various shot techniques around speed, stop motion, there’s so much happening that I didn’t know what to feel at times, I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or gasp or sit there in awe. Most of it was awe.
To have it in black and white film is an interesting choice and when I began to understand why, in my own point of view, is when you’re seeing “blood” but because it is not in color, it looks like oil and that’s when it clicked in my head. It’s like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz, needing oil and rusting himself. And would the movie be just as powerful in color as it is in black and white? That’s up for debate. I think it’ll lose the fantastical, cyberpunk element that’s already there.
And I have to give a lot of kudos to Shinya Tsukamoto who wrote, produced, edited, directed and also starred (he portrays the fetishist) in.
If you like body horror, you might stomach this. Tetsuo I: The Iron Man is available through Shudder. There are subtitles as well.*
*a warning of a scene indicating assault (f on m) so that can be a trigger warning.
3.75 (to 4) out of 5 from me!
One thought on “SoH Reviews: Tetsuo I (The Iron Man)”