30 Day Horror Review – SCI-FI HORROR – Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

After running over a strange man known as the ‘metal fetishist’ with his car, Tetsuo begins to notice that his body is slowly turning into scrap metal. (Another synopsis I cobbled together from the considerably longer IMDB summary that I’ll pretty much be doing in my review section anyway, and I wonder who’s actually reading this bit anyway)

Yay, more Japanese cinema! Unlike Ring, however, this film is less well-known and is relatively shorter than the others on this list. From the clips I’ve seen, this is bound to be an interesting audio-visual experience. Oh well… here goes.


Hooooooly hell, that was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure it even is horror or sci-fi, so what informed the recommendation?!
I don’t want to say too much about the plot here, because a) it’s difficult to follow anyway, and b) this is one of those films that you have to see to believe. The whole thing is available as an hour-long Youtube video, complete with English subtitles. I’m sure not everyone will like it but you should give it ten minutes at least, just to get a feel for it. It does have the potential to creep people out and maybe inspire a few bad dreams.
The basic premise is as follows: a metal fetishist is run over by a car driven by Tetsuo and his girlfriend. They get rid of the body and partake in shenanigans before Tetsuo realises there’s a piece of metal stuck to his face. As he tries to remove it, he realises it’s growing from the inside. A series of bizarre scenes ensue, for example: a violent attack in the subway, a sexy nightmare breakfast (which is not a phrase I like to throw around casually) and the slow corruption of Tetsuo’s body as his most vulnerable fleshy parts are changed into metal. And yes, that means exactly what you think it means. There’s a drill involved. I’ll say no more.
The film, as I’ve said, can be creepy and disturbing. First of all, there’s the way it’s shot – it’s all in black and white, very fast-paced and frantic, and accompanied by clattering percussive music that really sets the mood. Also, there’s some impressive animation, especially towards the end, and you find yourself wondering how they achieved certain effects.
Second, there’s the whole idea of metal corrupting the body. As with The Fly and other body horror, the audience wonders “What’s going to happen? How much worse is he going to get?!” Personally, I have my thing about rusty metal, so the idea of it being incorporated into the human body made me wince. Sometimes it reminded me of District 9 with the bloke whose hand turns into an alien claw. Same principle.
God damn it, is Tetsuo another body horror? I am so bad at categorising these things.

Final Verdict:

More than anything, Tetsuo: The Iron Man is bound to confuse you and make you swear at the screen. But all the same… I’d say give it a try. Yeah. Just have a Simpsons episode queued up for afterwards.
I’m sorry, my head hurts. I’m off to hop in the bath.


6 jam sandwiches.


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