Of Filings And Pilings
GRIMES: “Speaking of being wrapped up in something, not for the fainthearted or prudish is Shinya Tsukamoto’s TETSUO: The Iron Man (1989), as hyperkinetic a depiction of paranoia and aggressive madness as one could crave.
Easily compared to David Lynch, (black & white, background sound, a slight bit of the opening), it makes Eraserhead‘s world look slow and ponderous. I always felt I could scrape by somehow there. But, one wouldn’t last long in Tetsuo’s world.
Wherein, roughly put, a hit-and-run driver flees his threatening victim, as both are terrorized by an inexplicably advancing metallic vengeance. While it has to be viewed throughout as you would a nightmare, (one that lasts way past what actual sleep allows), don’t fail to sense the humor beneath every moment.
At certain instances sharing effective absurdities with older movie/TV monsters, (the rocky blobs in the old Star Trek episode, ‘The Savage Curtain’ (the Abraham Lincoln episode), and Outer Limits‘ ‘Don’t Open ‘Til Doomsday’ came to mind), Tsukamoto keeps the motion-nausea levels high with animated chase sequences—p/reverberations of the little seen short Gisele Kerozene, (also 1989), by Jan Kounen, a breakneck broom chase amongst three grotesquely outfitted ‘witches’; the work of Jan Svankmajer; and even a bit of Art Clokey.
The two sequels, one from the ’90s and one in the making, I’ve not seen, but likely continue the end conglomeration’s vow to rust the entire world into junk. Rolling forth like a giant pan of Jiffy Pop, Pee Wee Herman’s foil ball, and a tar-covered, helium-inflated Moe Howard in Dizzy Pilots all combined. (I’m not spoiling the ending, since it doesn’t really end there…).
Again, the easy to appall should avoid it– there are scenes of self-mutilation and sexual extremes early on. On the other hand, they are highly stylized and quickly morph into further affairs.
An indicator of TETSUO‘s potential timelessness: because the dvd box gave only the issue date of that edition, I did not realize until double checking it, on this writing, that it is not a recent film, but rather now twenty years old.
My thanks again to this former site’s Ryan H. for passing along his only copy and affording me its unique ‘discovery’.” — RG (July 30, 2009).