TETSUO (AKA THE IRONMAN) Feb 05 2002
If Grace Jones was Asian...




Cast

Tomoro Taguchi
Kei Fujiwara
Nobu Kanaoka
Renji Ishibashi
Naomasa Musaka
Shinya Tsukamoto

Man
Woman
Woman In Glasses
Tramp
Doctor
Metal Fetishist
Directed by Shinya Tsukamoto

"Gee, Zack, I'm nine times more popular than Japanese art films!"

If the availability of images is the main indicator of a film's 'cult-ness', this one is the king. The three images provided in this article are pretty much the only three available on the internet, which says quite a deal, given that a Google image search for +Dustin +Diamond gave me over 20 images of Screech.

According to this string of logic, Tetsuo is almost seven times as obscure as Dustin Diamond. If you add the fact that half of the images of Diamond were not from Saved By the Bell, this expands his popularity factor, making Tetsuo at least nine times as obscure. Or maybe not, I'm not really that good on statistics.

So, what is this Tetsuo thing? To answer this question, we must go a few decades back in time...

In 1954, Gojira/Godzilla was released by the Japanese company Toho. Godzilla was awakened from his icy sleep by a nuclear bomb, and destroyed Tokyo every other weekend for years and years. In those days, everyone in Asia were (understandibly) afraid of nuclear weapons and other external dangers. This fear was reflected by the horror films of the era - it seems every single Japanese movie was about a giant monster that demolished a major city. Later, when the Hiroshima/Nagasaki incidents were sneaking their way down the consciousness ladder of the Japanese, Godzilla became the hero of his movies. In fact, he become something close to a 150-storey super hero who stopped evil creatures from destroying Tokyo by bashing the living daylights out of them... in central Tokyo, of course. Kind of like the time Hulk saved an anthill from the wrath of Dr. Octopus by shielding it with his own body.

"Feeeeeeel the light, brutha!"
Today, things are different. All horror films are in essence about invasion, but today the 'invadee' is not primarily the geographical Japan, but the mental Japan. Japanese technological progress is galloping like a paranoid mustang artificially insaminated with tabasco, and many feel technology is invading their personal life. This horror movie trend has inspired many an anime film (name one anime that doesn't include a cyborg or a sentient robot. Didn't think so) and, of course, Tetsuo:

After a man runs over a hobo with his car, he discovers that he is turning into a cyborg. At least, I think that is what happens. The movie is a mishmash of high-speed stop-motion, ambient shots and... well, weird shit. Watching Tetsuo is pretty much like watching Evil Dead, only in black & white, turned to fast forward and with Japanese tecno music playing at max volume, and you would have to somehow insert a cyborg with a gigantic drilling penis. And you would have to have been awake for two days. Actually, this doesn't come close to describing the Tetsuo experience. Forget I ever tried.

Bwaah! That one always scares the bejeezus out of me.
Of course, this is the perfect film for a hardcore cult audience. It's visually unique, non-commercial, foreign, and almost impossible to understand the first time you watch it. Of course, the obscurity factor alone would make it an instant cult hit; I have yet met only one person who has even heard of it, and he was the one who presented it to me.

If you are a fan of cult films (and why would you read this if you weren't?), this one could definitely be worth a look. Just make sure you aren't under the influence of any drug while you're watching it, and that you aren't eating anything that could look like something out of a human body.


Links:
- Buy the DVD at Amazon.com
- IMDb entry