Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo II: The Body Hammer is already one of the key sci-fi movies of the decade. Trevor Johnston talks hi-tech S&M with the cheery Japanese director.
You don’t need to have seen Tetsuo: The Iron Man to enjoy its vastly superior sequel. Just think of Ridley Scott’s futuristic Blade Runner cityscapes and David Cronenberg’s patented body horror, then imagine that a leather fetishist clearly under the inﬂuence of mind-expanding narcotics has combined the two and been unleashed on the streets of Tokyo to bring his skewed vision to celluloid fruition. The result is a startling
kaleidoscope of hi-tech carnage and
sado-masochistic eroticism, potently situating its plethora of perversities within the conﬁnes of the family unit. If Tetsuo II: The Body Hammer doesn’t shock, disturb or delight you, then it might be time to give up on the cinema altogether. The
future very deﬁnitely starts here.
‘There’s a very straight side to me and I’m a very positive guy really,’ smiles Tsukamoto himself, his beige crocheted polo shirt and grey suede ﬂoppy hat conjuring up a fashion statement midway between Sandy Lyle and LL Cool J, ‘but at the same time there are these dark and negative elements inside me that come out in my work.’
Tetsuo II: The Body Hammer. ‘a startling
k3'°'d°“°p‘ o' M'mh “ma” 3 idyllic pastoral past seems attractive when
contrasted with the techno-chaos of the present, ? it’s also revealed as the origin of the mutoid
i violence that’s to follow, where Taniguchi’s
- boyhood glimpse of the parental primal scene is
4 You can’t help but nod in sympathy when he adds that ‘it’s good to get these feelings out of my system’ because if you had Tetsuo II welling up inside you, you’d be looking for a sense of release
More or less reprising the central narrative of its predecessor, but shot in colour on 35mm with a larger budget and even more creative assurance, Tsukamoto’s film follows the misfortunes of mild-mannered city worker Taniguchi (Tomorooh Taguchi) as uncontrollable rage at the kidnapping of his small son starts to mutate his body into a deadly human weapon. At length coming face to face with The Guy (played by the director), evil leader of the leather-clad skinhead thugs who’ve taken the child, a hyper-violent conflict begins that will leave Taniguchi’s human form far behind,
l wreaking terrible havoc on the city around him.
‘ time people of my own age group sometimes want
5 advances on its predecessor. While Tsukamoto’s
~ show the organs, you can get away with anything ' and this suppression of the sex act itself creates 8
But as his destructive fury grows ever more intense, he at last is brought closer to understanding the part his highly disturbed childhood has to play in the ‘Body Hammer’ he has now become.
As writer, director, cameraman and designer, the movie’s staggering amalgam of comic book mayhem , eye-popping stop-motion effects work and typically Japanese emphasis on pain and cruelty is very much a personal achievement for Tsukamoto. While he says the Tanaguchis are ‘the family of the devil’ and that we shouldn’t take them too seriously as representative of Japanese society at large, there is a sense in which the ﬁlm expresses the anxieties of a restless younger generation. ‘The hi-tech surroundings in the ﬁlm symbolise the advances in the Japanese economy that my father’s generation built up,’ explains the 32-year-old Tokyo-ite. ‘They left us a very pleasant environment to enjoy, but at the same
to tear it all down and long for wide open spaces. The ﬁlm hangs on the cusp of those two emotions.’
Certainly Tersuo Il’s richly textured articulation of these tensions is what marks out its thematic
the key moment in the realisation of his future
Uneasy Japanese attitudes to sexuality are obviously crucial here too, as Tsukamoto continues, citing his country’s ‘ridiculous formal censorship’ as a major factor in the sensual perversity of his work. ‘Essentially, if you don’t
shadowland of distorted desires. It makes the whole area of dark sexual imaginings even more attractive.’
Tetsuo II: The Body Hammer opens at the Glasgow : Film Theatre on Sunday 29 November.
n: ‘increasingly nlghtmarish' A British conservationist (James Wiiby) and his American wiie (Melissa Leo) visit a iertillty shrine in Karachi as a last resort cure tor their childlessness. The tact that it is run by a religiously revered group at eunuchs
only heightens an uneasy sense at mysticism that becomes increasingly nightmarish once their baby is born. Director Jamil Dehiavi exploits culture clash lears more eiiectively than in many bigger budget rivals and, more to the point, does not do so gratuitously. Wilby, with all at his Merchant/ivory associations, is the ideal choice tor the Englishman out oi his ethnic depth in a iiim that actually gets to grips with opposing notions oi politics, culture, religion and psychology. Okay, the Rushdie reierences might be overpiayed but immaculate Conception - biggerthan its Film on Four origins would suggest- coniirrns Dehiavi as one of the UK's ioremost independent illmmakers. (AM)
Immaculate Conception (15) (Jamil Dehiavi, ﬂit/Pakistan, 1992) James Wilby, Melissa Leo, Zia Moyheddin. 120 mins. From Fri 20: Edinburgh Filmhouse.
16 The List 2() November — 3 December l992
_ RAPID FIRE
Rapid Fire: ‘standard action iare’
Son at Kung Fu legend Bruce, Brandon Lee stars as mild-mannered college student Jake Lo, who's taken under the
wing at the witness protection g programme alter he just happens to get 3 caught up in the middle at a mob slaying. Naturally the Uzi-toting scumbags in question are eager to get hold at him, which gives tough Chicago cop Mace Ryan (Powers Boothe) just the chance he needs to gather damning evidence at the villaln’s drug-running activities. Always having looked up to his late lather, a Chinese political activist who died in the Tiananmen Square massacre, this dangerous mission might also give Jake the opportunity to live up to his memory. Absolutely standard action tare with the inventiveness oi the tight sequences rarer matched by the wooden characterisation. Young Lee makes an attractive here, however, and could be a man to watch. (TJ)
Rapid Fire (18) (Dwight ii. Little, US, 1992) Brandon Lee, Powers Boothe, Rick Macuso. 95 mins. From Fri 20: Glasgow: MGM Parkhead. All UCls. J