Tetsuo: The Iron Man DVD: Review By Dodd

  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
Only one question can describe my viewing of Tetsuo: The Iron Man--- What the f**k????

In the past year I have had a fair exposure to experimental film. In fact, I am currently in the midst of an intensive study of the genre in a grad school course. As well, I've always been a fan of the bizarre auteurs of the industry such as David Cronenberg and David Lynch. I've seen a lot of crazy things onscreen, and Tetsuo is undoubtedly one of the maddest pictures ever applied to celluloid.

The film begins with a businessman that seems to be having a problem. He is turning into a person of half human/half metal features. Though this isn't treated with the joy and whimsicality of creating the Tin Man. The protagonist undergoes transformations that make a person cringe. And you better believe there are buckets of blood and gore. Fortunately the film is in black and white to make the blood look more like tar or motor oil.

From this point forward all hell breaks loose, and the sense of narrative is pretty much scrapped. Though I can throw out a hodgepodge of events that follow. The man's penis becomes a giant, menacing drill that he uses to attack a woman; a woman grows a giant drill phallic and anally rapes the man with it, and the protagonist does battle with a cyber punk opponent. This eventually leads to the two fighters becoming one giant hunk of demented scrap metal storming the streets of Japan.

In most cases, I wouldn't reveal an ending, but when it comes to experimental, who gives a damn? The one thing I've learned from films like Tetsuo is that they do everything in their will to be different from mainstream fare. Films such as this simply are what they are, and anyone that tries to figure out logic in the storytelling will feel very frustrated. There is no right or wrong answer as to what really happens in this film, and the ending is no Shyamalan twist.

The person in me that was once first exposed to this type of cinema would slam this film and beg people to get away while they still can. Though being a moviegoer that has become desensitized to every odd trick in the book, I must admit feeling a guilty pleasure while watching Tetsuo. The presence of metal fetishism and sadism is deeply disturbing beyond belief, but I can't say I've seen anything like it before. The imagery compiled together in this 1988 hour-long film is probably a treat for fans of bizarre film.
Sadly there are no special features here except for a promotional look at the director's newest feature. I was hoping for a little more insight into the project. Being that it is 67 minutes of crazy, graphic chaos, I was hoping the director would provide us with a little insight on the subtexts he wished to convey while making this. Oh well. I guess with experimental film we are supposed to visualize the supplemental features in our heads.
The picture is in its original fullscreen format and is featured in black and white. The quality is not crisp, but that is what the director is going for. The distorted imagery looks a lot like a Nine Inch Nails music video.

This little film breaks out the big guns. Like Tartan has been doing recently with their Asia Extreme series, the film is equipped with 5.1 DTS and 5.1 Dolby. The language is in Japanese with English subtitles. Even though this flick has the proper tracks for great sound, I don't know if I would recommend cranking it up on the system. The film is packed with disturbing sound effects that will make your neighbors think you are into some really sick s**t.
Standard DVD keep case. The case comes packed in a nice shiny sleeve that benefits the appearance of the DVD when adding it to one's collection. There is a picture on the cover of one of the demented metal people of the film.
Tetsuo is a crazy, crazy piece of film, and I was not sure how much more of it I could take. Luckily, with a shorter runtime, it quits when it is still ahead. While I can't really give a logical explanation for the film's plot, the open-minded analyst in me enjoys this slice of twisted metal and blood.

My Recommendation: I have a feeling this 80's project has a cult following of sorts, or else it wouldn't have been re-released as such a handsome DVD. Fans of the film or the experimental genre should invest in the purchase. Though anyone else may be a little freaked.

Questions? Comments? Just want to talk movies? Drop me a line at dodd@movieweb.com

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