Tetsuo, the Iron Man / Shinya Tsukamoto / 1989 / fourstar

Active Ingredients: DIY creativity; Unique editing; Utter craziness
Side Effects: A few scenes too long, even at 67 minutes


What do you get if you mix the nightmarish black and white tones of Lynch’s Eraserhead with the psycho-sexual horror of a Cronenberg film? While it’s unjust to reduce the sheer originality of Tetsuo, the Iron Man to such a neat equation, it’s hard not to think of those great filmmakers watching director Tsukamoto’s low-budget, ultra-gory freakout. Throughout an almost-wordless 67 minutes, there’s little in the way of plot. A bizarre “metal fetishist” is hit by a car, then another man is slowly consumed by metal. Piece by piece, his body is replaced with scraps, turning him into a violent, sex-crazed machine.

It’s all very crazy, kinky stuff, but Tsukamoto presents it with such vitality that it’s hard to resist. Set to some hard-pounding proto-techno, the film pulses and speeds along. Thanks to sheer creativity, Tsukamoto makes the most out of a paucity of resources, delivering some genuinely fun and shocking sequences. After almost an hour of such exciting strangeness, the final showdown tests the audience’s patience. It’s a short feature, but even still it lingers slightly too long. While this is not a film for the faint of heart, if yours is made of scrap metal, check it out.