Horrorfest 2018 Presents: Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989, Shinya Tsukamoto)

How does one describe Tetsuo: The Iron Man? Is Shinya Tsukamoto’s movie the disturbed love child of Eraserhead and David Cronenberg body horror? The beginning of industrial metal music, combined with music video style imagery and editing cuts? Or something even beyond all that, a nightmare fuel vision that draws the viewer in, never letting go, haunting all who view Tsukamoto’s masterpiece of flesh and metal. Bound together forever, entwined, destined to conquer a world that has let technology and industry that holds domain over mankind. After all, humanity has surrendered control to beings that will eventually overwhelm us if we are not careful. Plus the images presented are horrific yet also fascinating, literal but also metaphorical: I give this movie credit for managing to walk the fine line between desperation and meaning, a very uneasy task for any filmmaker tackling such material.

If you are looking for a movie with drawn out characters or an easy to follow plot, this movie is not for you. Instead if, like myself, you wish to seek out challenging films that present another worldview, then Tetsuo is a great choice. I also chuckled at how the end title says “Game Over,” as if the last insane act is a video game. Considering the 1980s, its a perfect title image, and predicted how many films in the years to come either adapted video games or choose to be structured like them. Also be prepared for a movie where a man has a giant drill coming out of him, not to mention turning into a monstrous pile of scrap metal, consuming all other metal around him. I wish I could write more about this film, however I wish to avoid spoilers and I think Tetsuo requires additional viewings. Which will have to be achieved through Shudder again, since according to Wikipedia all releases of the film are out of print. Maybe I should appeal to Criterion to add the film to their collection.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962, Joseph Green)


Despite knowing that this was a MSTK entry I still watched this movie late at night on TCM. It’s awful and yet there’s something fascinating about bad old school horror science fiction. Plus this movie was, like many of its time era, cheaply made as fast as possible. Not every low budget film can be a winner. Too many of them end up like this one, which is too bad since the ending is at least entertaining.

Why is a creature chained up in a mad doctor’s basement? Why doesn’t he just move on from his girlfriend, who is now only just a head? (They didn’t have seat belts in the 60s I guess) Why won’t WordPress let me post the trailer for this turkey in my post? Watch the film for some answers, although I don’t recall getting any. A modern day remake of this could result in an goofy and fun movie. Or it could be made really gory. Either way this is a prime candidate.

New Tablet Wahoo

So I have for the time being replaced my laptop with a Verizon tablet. It’s new shinny and I’m already using it heavily. While I can’t overload this fun new toy with too many aps I did install a few much needed ones. Twitter, Netflix and of course Word Press were some of those; Facebook was not. It even has a camera which is pretty sweet. Now I have a bigger screen to view TV shows and movies on which is nice. Plus the battery life is fantastic. That said until I buy a case for my tablet I will be leaving it at my apartment. I now see why more people are getting tablets instead of laptops.

You Talkin’ To Me?

As much as I love technology sometimes it’s advances can be rather annoying. Primarily the Bluetooth headsets, a device that has led to me wondering if people are talking to themselves while they are in fact communicating with another person over the phone. I’m reminded of The Boondocks where Gin Rummy keeps telling Ed to stop using his earpiece, as it made it hard for Gin to tell if Ed was even speaking to him.

This is even worse at my job, where unless I speak to the customers and they talk to me I can’t help them find what they are looking for. Just last week I almost thought a customer was talking to me, only to notice she was on her Bluetooth. That is a tad annoying, and a little creepy. Are we supposed to be so dialed in that even at the store we are talking on the phone? A once useful invention, like all good ones, is ripe for abuse.

Furthermore I don’t want to be Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver, having to ask people “Are you talkin’ to me?” In a world where ccommunication is supposed to be more easier and widespread perhaps technology often reduces our ability to speak to one another as much as it enhances and enables us to get in touch with someone.


Top 20 Horror Films of the 2000s Presents: Pulse (2001)

13. Pulse (2001, Kiyoshi Kurosawa)

Honestly out of all of the movies on this list I was really freaked out by Pulse the most. The film exists in those quiet lonely spaces where you don’t think anything will happen, and when the ghosts finally appear and take aim at your soul, draining your existence and slowly bringing you into the darkness you realize its too late to scream or run. The fact that this movie was made in 2001 around the tech boom makes it all the more relevant, and the rise of social media, blogs and message boards has me wondering what this film would possibly be like now. T.S. Elliot famously said “This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper.” Without saying more I will note that Pulse in a way fulfills that eerie quotation, especially as the film’s victims are slowly destroyed by the very technology they embraced.

Especially since the character’s alienation and lack of connection with real people because of technology and computers is what starts the entire chain in motion in the first place. Society crumbles and breaks down as people fail to be in touch with actual people-talking to them, interacting with them in person, going beyond the technological walls they imprisoned themselves in. Pulse is as much a tragedy as it is a horror movie, for the loss of humanity and one’s soul is far worse than actual death itself. You power up your large glowing machine, listening to its strange hum and log onto your favorite website. Only then do the ghosts begin to whisper and echo in your mind, filtering themselves through your ears and into your brain. When you finally realize what is happening, its already too late. That is the genesis of Pulse.

Auto-Erotic, Accidents, and Almost Death: A Look At Crash

In 2005, I experienced a car crash that was absolutely brutal and completely life changing, to say the least. I was hit from the side, t-boned as they called it, so I lived while sustaining a concussion. My friend, who was a passenger and who lived while being only slightly injured, had to tell me what happened that day because I don’t remember. A day in my life is gone forever, and all I have left are pictures of a terrible moment that almost killed me. That’s a scary thought, one that I have never forgotten.

Some say your life flashes before your eyes when death approaches, yet that didn’t happen for me. I’m sure there was no white light, or the singing of angels, or anything else. Just that moment where I probably thought to myself “Oh shit, I’m going to die” as the other car rammed into my driver’s side, pushing me off the road and into a small plot of green grass resting next to the strip of hot July asphalt that ran on the far side of town. Next to a Country Kitchen, in fact.

Side Hit

This is my 1997 Ford Taurus-I took this and other pictures of the aftermath at the local junkyard. The car was completely totaled, and I woke up the next day having spent half the day in the hospital, and the entire rest of the night puking and wondering what the hell had happened to me. Not a good experience.

So with a tad hesitation I viewed David Cronenberg’s Crash (1996), not to be confused with the movie about racism that won Best Picture and which I never bothered to watch. Cronenberg in the 1990s decided that after over two decades of doing body horror he would tackle something new and fresh, and this can actually be considered a cousin to Naked Lunch in that both films tackle the artist and certain weird levels of making and creating something with one’s own hands. In this case with Crash though the art is achieved with car accidents, some staged, others that happened merely viewed and remembered by those obsessed with the horror and the spectacle, with sex involved too.

Which is not surprising, since many of Cronenberg’s movies have deal with sexuality and the human body one way or another. There is even elements of body horror in this film, moments that are quite stark and rather provocative , hence the NC-17 rating that was unfairly earned in my opinion. Why is that violence is so often given a pass, yet sex brings in the censorship police? It’s a tad silly how so many Americans are prudish when it comes to the subject matter of sex, and that’s why I think that Cronenberg included it in so many of his films. Arousal is a weapon even in these movies, especially when it comes to man vs. women sexual politics.

Back in 1996 I’m sure the movie was far shocking to people than it is now, and the fact that films such as Blue Valentine have also displayed sex graphically makes Crash a tad dated. For some reason I felt the film doesn’t go far enough, and maybe that’s because if had gone completely over the edge there is no way that it would have been released. However Crash does a fantastic job overall of giving you the sense of that deer in the headlights, that feeling of Death starring you in the face as you spiral head on into a tangled web of violence and bodies, metal and glass, plastic and rubber.

Not to mention you still get his thoughts on technology-its mutilation of the body, the graphing together of steel and human flesh. Disturbing, sure, powerful absolutely, and completely engaging to the last frame. No one quite makes films like David Cronenberg, and perhaps that’s a good thing because his vision remains unique and absorbing. Perhaps even absolute, a lasting take on modern society and the human psyche.

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