Thursday, October 18, 2012

Rage Against the Machine: "Tetsuo: The Iron Man" (1992)

Just another Japanese-language, surreal, horrifying, chilling, gross, sadistic, industrial sixty seven minute nightmare (in glorious black and white).

I don't know what is scarier, this movie, or the fact that I found it at a local video store whose nationwide policy prohibits any NC-17 or unrated editions from being on its shelves (no, it ain't Blockbuster).

What can you say about the plot? A victim of a hit and run accident has his revenge on the copulating couple that ran him over. Sure, that sounds like a pitch to an average Hollywood movie, and it has been done, but "Tetsuo: The Iron Man" quickly leaves all safe Hollywood ingredients in its wake.

The victim somehow gets the male driver to slowly turn into a raging machine. It starts with a small wire sticking out of his cheek. Soon, he is being chased in a subway terminal by a woman with the mechanical affliction. He escapes her, but still tries to make it with his girlfriend. In the film's most horrific scenes, he grows a giant ugly drill for a penis, and the two spend many minutes both trying to kill each other, and have some hard to watch sex. Half way through, we find out what the victim is trying to do, and the climax involves the two men melding together to become an indestructible mechanical being driven by the lust to see the world destroyed and rusted.

Surrealism is so hard to describe, (quick, give me the plot of "Un Chien Andalou,") but this film is one of the most violent films I have seen. So much can be read into this, from machines taking over our world, to impersonal love relationships, but all in all, director and writer Tsukamoto stuns the viewer with eye imploding visuals. The stop motion special effects work well, and everyone involved seems to be in actual pain in many scenes. The makeup and mechanical costuming are top notch, and the music totally kicks ass- not quite heavy industrial, but not just another rock soundtrack, either.

There is not a lot of blood here, there are torrents of it. This is a blood monsoon, especially in the sex and stabbing scenes. The soundtrack has little dialogue, and the sound effects consist of a lot of metal scraping metal, which had me climbing the walls. Watch for the now infamous scene as the unnamed man feeds his girlfriend breakfast.

On the Fox Lorber video release of this film, there is a short entitled "Drum Struck," which is another review altogether. "Tetsuo: The Iron Man" is a hard core sci-fi/horror fan's dream, I'll never curse my car or microwave again. (* * * * *) out of five stars.