Tetsuo: the Iron Man

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Tetsuo, the Iron Man (Tetsuo) is a full length Japanese movie that was released in 1989. The movie was directed by Shinya Tsukamoto, who has become known for his fantasy-like movies. Tsukamoto has become somewhat of a cult favorite and has a huge cult following both in Japan as well as in other countries. He continues to make, and act, in movies such as Haze and Nightmare Detective, both horror thrillers. Tetsuo is the third film that Tsukamoto directed and he did so on a low-budget, which actually helped the movie.


Tetsuo, the Iron Man, starts out with a man who is seen cutting open his leg in order to stick a metal pipe in it. The man is only known as “The Metal Fetishist” through out the movie. No one, in fact, has names. The Metal Fetishist seems to be enjoying himself and is looking at his wound with a mixture of pain and pleasure. He seems to be happy until he notices that his wound has been infested with larvae. He seems to go insane as he runs out of the building and straight into the street.

A car is coming straight at him and does not have time to stop. He hits The Metal Fetishist and accidentally kills him. He is known as “the Salary Man”. The Salary Man, horrified at what has occurred, decides to get rid of the evidence. He hauls the body to a ravine and leaves it there to rot.

The next morning he wakes up and sees something strange in the mirror. A piece of metal is growing out of his cheek! As time passes he finds more and more metal growing on him and comes to understand that he is turning into some sort of machine. The Metal Fetishist has been haunting the man and has been changing him. Things come to a climax when The Salary Man pulls down his pants to find that his penis has been turned into a giant power drill. The Salary Man and The Metal Fetishist end up having a strange final meeting, leaving the viewer shaking their head at the end.

Misc Info

One of the most gruesome, and highly debated, scenes comes when The Salary Man pulls his pants down to reveal the transformation of his penis to a power drill. Many men and women found it offensive and even thought there is not much blood or gore, there, they cited it as the worst part of the film.

The movie is a mixture of both regular filming, in black and white, and stop-motion animation, leaving for a very unique movie. The movie is fast-paced with very cheap special affects but for some reason it seems to suit the story extremely well. People who watch Tetsuo usually end up getting other Tsukamoto movies in order to compare them to Tetsuo. Generally they find them similar, even though the plots and budget is so much different.

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