Tetsuo: The Iron Man. 1989. Japan. Written and directed by Shinya Tsukamoto. With Tomorowo Taguchi, Kei Fujiwara, Shinya Tsukamoto. In Japanese; English subtitles. DCP, courtesy of American Genre Film Archive. 67 min.
Shinya Tsukomoto’s breakout, Tetsuo: The Iron Man, fuses echoes of German Expressionism and the hyperactive kinesis of music videos into one deranged symbiosis, anticipating the extremities of body horror that would peak in the early 21st century while also serving as a brutal critique of Japanese society. Tsukamoto stars as a “metal fetishist” killed in a careless accident by a workaday salaryman, only to return from the grave and enact his revenge by bringing the perpetrator to his own level of flesh forged with rusty steel. (“Together, we can turn this fucking world into rust!”) With visceral pre-CGI special effects and a sound mix that often evokes nails on chalkboard, Tetsuo is a gnashing, kinetic nightmare from which it’s impossible to look away.