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Tetsuo: The Iron Man is a 1989 Japanese Cyberpunk film by cult-film director Shinya Tsukamoto. His third film, Tetsuo is an extremely graphic but also strikingly-filmed fantasy shot in the same low-budget, underground-production style as his first two films.

It established Tsukamoto internationally and created his worldwide cult following. It was followed by Tetsuo II: Body Hammer and Tetsuo III: The Bullet Man.

The movies tells the tale of a man who, after hitting a metal fetishist with his car, attempts to hide the mess by dumping the body into a ravine.

To his dismay, he finds that the fetishist is getting his revenge - by forcing the driver to transform into a walking heap of scrap metal.

No relation to Tetsuo Shima or Tony Stark.

Tropes used in Tetsuo the Iron Man include:


  • Actionized Sequel: All of them.
  • All Just a Dream/Naughty Tentacles: "The Man" dreams his girlfriend turningh into a cyborg with a strap-on fashioned from a vaccum cleaner. She then proceeds to rape him with it...
  • Arm Cannon: The second movie shows that murderous intent seems to manifest this (among other things) if the hate is strong enough. In reality, those capable of this were actually part of an experiment to create living weapons
  • Body Horror: Several shots of metal sticking through "The Man's" flesh, which gradually turns him into an abomination.
  • Cultural Translation: The third movie has an American protagonist, yet still set in Japan.
  • Cyberpunk: Of the "80’s Japanese Cyberpunk" variety.
  • Death by Sex/This Is a Drill: "The Man's" penis transforms into a drill. During sex with his girlfriend.
  • Deliberately Monochrome
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: All three movies take their titles to literal levels.
  • Gainax Ending: "The Man" and "The Metal Fetishist" fuse to form one organism, with the Fetishist planning to turn the whole world "into rust".
  • Jittercam: The Bullet Man uses a lot of these.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: When "The Metal Fetishist" was alive, he enjoyed shoving bits of metal into his body.** After the main characters run him over, "The Woman" gets aroused. She later gets aroused when she shoves a knife into the "The Man's" neck hoping to kill him.
  • Lipstick and Load Montage: "The Metal Fetishist" changes his hairstyle, paints his lips, and puts on eye makeup before his final confrontation with "The Man".
  • Our Zombies Are Different: "The Woman", after being killed, is briefly revived by "The Metal Fetishist".
    • "The Woman on the Subway" who chases "The Man" seemed like one too. In fact, since the antagonist dies, comes back, and infects the protagonist, one could almost see this as some crazy zombie flick.
  • Revenge: The sequels involve the protagonist trying to avenge the death of his son.
  • The Right Hand of Doom: Almost every character in the movie ends up sporting a big, clunky metal hand at one point or another.
  • Silence Is Golden: Tetsuo has minimal dialogue as a nod to its Eraserhead influences.
  • Stop Motion: Somehow, the jilted movements make everything creepier.
  • Surreal Horror/Mind Screw: There is a reason why the first movie is often compared to Eraserhead. Averted in the sequels.
  • World of Symbolism: The movie may be about modern humanity's overdependence on machines. Or it's a metaphor for homosexual awakening.
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