Made by Shinya Tsukamoto in 1989, this shocking avant-garde body horror about a man who turns into a metal mutant is among the key films of Japanese cyberpunk.
A man tries to implant a metal rod into his leg, but sees maggots in the wound. Panic-stricken, he dashes across the road, but gets hit by a car. The driver catches ‘the metal disease’ and grows a metal spike on his face. Anyone who comes across those infected undergoes a mutation that turns their bodies into writhing mess of flesh and metal.
Cyberpunk was an important part of the Japanese underground film scene of the 1980s and 1990s, and Tetsuo is among its landmark creations. Like in most cyberpunk films of the time, its grotesque make-up, absurd plotlines, and physiologically disturbing scenes reflect the culture’s fear of bodily deformation, technogenic disasters, and radioactive mutation. And like most of them, it’s shot on black and white 16mm film. The leading roles are played by the director Shinya Tsukamoto and another cyberpunk filmmaker Kei Fujiwara.
Before the screening, film theorist Irina Dmitrieva will give a talk on Japanese cyberpunk and underground cinema.
Tetsuo, The Iron Man
Directed by Shinya Tsukamoto. 67 minutes. Japan, 1989