Tetsuo (1988)
Directed by Shinya Tsukamoto

Artistic & Entertainment Value
* * * *

DVD In Association with
Rent DVDs online!
In the USA:
Try Netflix For Free.In the UK:

After he kills a fetishist, who had been inserting a metal tube into his maggot infested leg, in a hit and run accident, the unnamed protagonist finds his world becoming increasingly hallucinatory and horrific. He discovers a metal barb emerging from his cheek, is chased through a subway station by a woman whose body has partly been transformed into an agglomeration of metal tubes, and soon finds that parts of his own body have been replaced by metal artifacts. Eventually, he metamorphoses into a ridiculous mass of wires, tubes, and metal excrescences, at which point the film becomes a delirious assault of stop motion animation, gruesome violence, and camp silliness.

Shinya Tsukamoto's Tetsuo is a harsh, weird, and nauseating film.

Like David Lynch's Eraserhead, which it resembles both visually and in its emotive impact, Tetsuo is a disjointed, dreamlike, and often deeply disturbing vision. The movie is filmed in grainy black and white, and its resulting look somehow heightens the tale's disconnect from reality. This disjunction, in turn, both allows the film's frenzy of disgusting, loathsome images to inhabit their own strange world, which is poignantly manifested to the viewer, and magnifies the sense of surreal repulsion these images arouse.

Tetsuo's revolting and terrific elements are frequently enhanced by incongruous comic moments, such as when the man finds himself crouching naked on the ground while a woman rapes him with what appears to be a penis made from a huge tube, which is made to wriggle obscenely by means of stop motion animation. The scene is strangely funny, but such comic elements make the movie more disturbing than it would have been had they been absent. Even scenes that are not particularly horrific, as that in which the man's penis is transformed into an enormous furniture destroying drill after he has watched his girlfriend fellate a sausage to the accompaniment of the sound of scraping metal, contribute to the overall strangeness and unreality of the film and so ultimately do assist in the production of horror and revulsion.

Tsukamoto's Tetsuo is one of only a handful of movies dominated by the emotion of repulsion and is interesting for this fact alone. It is a strange film, but its strangeness succeeds in eliciting a powerful emotive reaction from the viewer. Tsukamoto might not have created a masterpiece, but he has produced something well worth seeing.

Review by Keith Allen

Home Page / Alphabetical List of Films
List of Films by Star Ratings
Aesthetic Principles / Guide to Ratings
Criteria for Inclusion / DVD Stores / Blog

© 2004 Keith Allen. All rights reserved.
Revised 2005

Click Here

banner 2