Tetsuo: The Iron Man Film Review

   Whilst much attention has been recently feted upon Gary Turk's intolerable Look Up, to gain a true cinematic insight into society's relationship with technology it would be wise to cast our eyes back to a startling, prescient, cyberpunk exploitation movie sculpted in Japan over a quarter of a century ago.

   Tetsuo: The Iron Man, a ferocious monochrome assault of the senses, is a 67 minute long feature which genuinely terrifies in a manner rare to cinema. Without the aid of anything as advanced as CGI, Shinya Tsukamoto takes us on an overwhelming, horrifying, bleak and occasionally repellently erotic journey in which we are asked to reappraise our relationship with technology - have we reached the point where we are immutably immeshed with it? Can we function without machinery in our day to day living? And, if so, are we masters of technology or have we advanced our society into a position of subservience?


   The film tells the tale of a Japanese businessman (Tomorowo Taguchi) who, whilst shaving, discovers a piece of metal growing under his skin. It would seem that, rather than vanish, the robotics inside him begin to grow like cancer - his very being is threatened to be subsumed with machinery from the inside-out. A body horror of unparalleled intensity, the crisp black and white photography and throbbing industrial soundtrack pulsate with anxious energy as we are presented with an existentially twisted future in which the world consists of nothing but the dominance of metal and rust. The film is a powerful riposte to the rapid industrialisation of the East throughout the 21st century as Tsukamoto questions what has been lost in this progress.

   Despite its low budget, Tetsuo: The Iron Man is endlessly inventive in terms of its themes and nightmarish visuals - evocative televisual static precedes David Lynch's iconic use of the imagery in Twin Peaks and the fetishisation of machinery acts as a pertinent forebearer to David Cronenberg's Crash too.

   Tsukamoto, in comparison with Gary Turk, presents us with much more than empty poetry to consider the cost of humanity in the face of progress - his film delivers a visceral representation of the terror too. A masterpiece of horror.
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