Review Roundup - Mr Driller

TETSUO TRILOGY

A man sits waiting for a train with a plaster on his face, after finding a metal shard growing out of his cheek. He's not having a good day, as he then gets chased by a crazy female commuter whose arm has grown into a mass of scrap metal. There is no clear explanation for why this is happening, it just does. Later his own body starts to turn into a similarly grotesque collection of tubes and wires. Why? Because of reasons. Later on it gets really weird.

Tetsuo, sometimes subtitled with it's translation The Iron Man is a dark and bizarre nightmare sequence full of strange imagery and industrial sounds. It's also a lot of fun despite some disturbing sequences of sex and violence.

 

The movie itself is very engaging, with a frenetic style of camera work and a lot of dream like chase scenes and stop motion effects. The use of high contrast black and white photography is really effective and it's full of interesting angles and dirty textures. There's a hazy atmosphere about everything reminiscent of Eraserhead, though I have no idea if it influenced the filmmakers here. The cast are all hyperactive, constantly sweating and grimacing - it all adds to the waking nightmare mood.

After a hit and run accident, the protagonist, simply credited as "Man", goes through a bizarre series of events involving his girlfriend and the other male lead, apparently a "metal fetishist" again by checking the credits. Whether it's all a manifestation of his guilt, at other times a hallucination, or an outlandish commentary on society becoming over industrialised... I can't be certain. They make no attempts at logical explanations, and it's more interesting because of it. It's more of a visual experience than a story, though it's fun to discuss after.

If I had to pick out things which seem to bring the movie down, it's that by the end they exhaust the novelty of the time lapse style chases and it feels drawn out after a while as the events become less random and build towards the ending. Things are very energetic throughout, but here it get's a bit too much and there isn't enough focus. Then again I guess it's a lot like the first half. The sequels fare less well.


There are two unrelated sequels which basically lack all the interesting parts of the original. Both try and explain the transformation with some weak pseudo science fiction back stories, and it drains away the intrigue straight away. Also, neither has that stark visual look or any of the great camera work. Body Hammer has some interesting imagery and a couple of neat horror moments, but ultimately fails to recapture the same energy - as well as being in colour which means the makeup and body horror effects a lot less visceral.

The Bullet Man basically does all this over again in a retread of part 2, but makes matters worse with bad modern effects and an English script, which none of the cast are really up to the challenge of performing convincingly. Both sequels seem more interested in simply having action moments with strange gun arms and body weapons rather than being a unique experience, which is a real shame.

Tetsuo: The Ironman  3/5
Tetsuo II: Body Hammer  2/5
Tetsuo: The Bullet Man  1/5