Testuo the Iron Man

Oct 09, 2006

Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo is one of those rare films where artistic pretense and horror actually find a nice middle ground—part crazed fever dream, part surrealistic rant against a soulless, modern culture. After deciding one morning to insert metal piping into his legs, our hero finds himself mutating from mild-mannered office worker into a large glob of wires, steel and cables. He also sports the added bonus of a drill that looks like it could bore a hole through a slab of concrete where his wee-wee used to be. To make matters worse, the victim of a hit and run accident our hero was involved in turns up alive, apparently likes to stick forks and other pieces of metal into his body, and is pissed. This, of course, sets the stage for a battle royale ending between our hero and his fork-friendly nemesis. If the plot sounds like a lot of hooey, you’re probably right. The acting ain’t all that great, either. What Tetsuo lacks in plot and thespian brilliance, however, it more than makes up for in style—the camera work is a dizzying blend of stop motion, and odd angles and seemingly drug-addled expressionism, and the editing looks like it was done by a speed-freak cutting to a DRI record, resulting in a film that is as fast-paced, wild and chaotic as anything Lynch, Cronenberg, Buñuel or even William S. Burroughs have managed to dream up. The fact that it clocks in at a mere sixty minutes means that you’ll have more than ample time to watch a Disney cartoon afterwards to ward off the unsettling feeling you’re gonna find washes over you once it’s over. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.tartanvideousa.com)