A Japanese salaryman hits a bizarre runner with his car on a deserted road. The next morning, the salaryman finds a small metal spike sticking out of his face. He pulls it out, then tries to go about his regular schedule. But on his way to work a woman with a biomechanical hand chases him, and things just go downhill from there.
At home, the salaryman begins to transform into something more machine than man, as graphically illustrated in a scene where his phallus turns into a steam driven drill! Soon he finds out that the runner was not actually killed, and the runner is also transforming into a metallic horror. Soon, combat is joined.
Trying to describe the narrative of Tetsuo: The Iron Man is beside the point. Shinya Tsukamoto has created a work of indisputable power, even if it isn't totally clear what's going on most of the time. The combination of techno music, bizarre imagery, and a regular man caught up in a situation he can't understand is strong stuff, and Tsukamoto's little experimental film (he also wrote the film, edited it, executed the special effects, and plays the runner to boot) has proved to be much more successful that he probably could have imagined. In 1992 Tsukamoto made a bigger budget remake, and imagery from Tetsuo has shown up in films as mainstream as Star Trek: First Contact.
This movie was shot on black and white 16mm, and on the cheap, so there is a lot of grain. Like Clerks, this isn't a fault of the DVD, but the original presentation. The sound is mono, almost certainly the original mix.
The subtitles are burned on rather than generated through the DVD player, so you can't turn them off. It hardly matters, though. There is no dialogue for long stretches of the film.
There are no extras beyond a chapter search menu. The back of the packages claims the disc, like the earlier VHS release, includes the short "Drum Struck," but this information is incorrect.
Scott Hamilton, 9/27/00