TETSUO: THE IRON MAN (1989) Reviews and overview

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Tetsuo: The Iron Man is a 1989 Japanese cyberpunk science fiction horror film about a businessman who accidentally kills The Metal Fetishist; the latter gets his revenge by slowly turning the man into a grotesque hybrid of flesh and rusty metal.

A sequel, Tetsuo II: Body Hammer, followed in 1994.

Written, produced, directed and edited by Shin’ya Tsukamoto. The movie stars Tomorô Taguchi, Kei Fujiwara, Nobu Kanaoka, Shin’ya Tsukamoto, Naomasa Musaka and Renji Ishibashi.

The unique industrial techno soundtrack score was composed by Chu Ishikawa.



“Its loose, messy narrative is matched only by its fragmented aesthetic, which haphazardly shores together these fragmented images in raw, uncompromising fashion. Tsukamoto is disinterested in coherence, going so far as to draw attention to the artifice of it all with a recurring rewinding effect that links the disparate episodes together, increasing the film’s unhinged, frantic energy in the process.” Oh, the Horror!

“Stop motion animation is implemented most extensively, and the way the two leads have a go at each other can bring up memories of manga battles or Godzilla epics, although the finale plays out less like one character victorious over the other and more like a meeting of minds and bodies as a love affair of screaming metal results in an impending apocalypse. It’s difficult to do justice to what a mindbending experience Tetsuo is…” The Spinning Image

Tetsuo: The Iron Man is completely surreal and off-kilter, which is both good and bad – good because director Tsukamoto gets to go crazy with some creative imagery and insane visuals, there’s a strong machine-tinged musical score, and you’ve never quite seen anything like it; but bad simply because it lacks cohesion and really isn’t appealing in an “entertainment” sense.” The Video Graveyard


“A surreal, industrial, energetic nightmare of men turned into angry mutating machines under the pressures of urban life. This comes off like a blend of Cronenberg and Lynch on speed.” The Worldwide Celluloid

Cast and characters:

Tomorô Taguchi … Man
Kei Fujiwara … Woman
Nobu Kanaoka … Woman in Glasses
Shin’ya Tsukamoto … Metal Fetishist
Naomasa Musaka … Doctor
Renji Ishibashi … Tramp

Technical details:

67 minutes

Original title:

鉄男 “Tetsuo”


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