by Emmet Barlow
I can only describe the cinematic run up to All Hollows Eve as having someone hosing shit through your letter box. I’m sorry for my bluntness, but many moons ago, the barrage of found footage shockers and yearly chundering of SAW release, made me lose faith in western horror. I decided to venture overseas. Searching for treasure chest of scares, blood, guts and gore, I washed upon the cinematic shores of Japan. I found films drenched in deep social anxiety, unparalleled violence and enduring imagery that still keeps me up at night.
One such trip was Shinay Tsukomoto’s Tetsuo: The Iron Man. A real oddity, like nothing you’ve seen before, or anything you’ll come close to seeing again. Like Akira and the high rollers of the J horror crowd, Tetsuo’s perturbed narrative relfects the fast paced technological advancements that Japan made throughout the twentieth century. Remember, this was a culture that went from feudalism to a global economic powerhouse in less than a century.
Tsukomoto’s incarnation of unease is the ‘The Metal Fetishist’ – played by the director himself – who has an insane compulsion for putting metal into his body. When he is left for dead in a car accident, by the ‘Salary-man’ (Tomorowo Taguchi), the fetishist exacts revenge by slowly mutating him into a metal man. In no way is this to be confused with any member of the Marvel Universe, in which Tony Stark proudly prances around in a hot rod red super suit. This iron man ends up becoming an aluminium Frankenstein with a two foot drill in place of his wedding veg and covered in more chince than a pensioner’s fire place.
Tsukomoto’s film making style is truly something to behold, utilising stop motion and animation techniques to create a sick sense of urgency, terror and anxiety. However, what really sticks out, is the visceral, almost winching, diegetic noise. The sound of teeth running along a riveted pip, bones crunching mutated metal. A synthesised drum beat that I can still hear now, resonating in my now fractured mind.