I've been wanting to view this one for a long time. I'd heard it was an acid trip in the Eraserhead vein. I found that to be partially true, but [b]Tetsuo[/b] moves at a much more frantic pace. Rarely does it stop long enough for us to digest a scene. Its crisp b&w images are startling, occasionally erotic but mostly horrifying. Most surprising was the techno soundtrack, which was great and mirrors modern music.
What's the plot of [b]Tetsuo[/b]? Basically the main character (never named) and his girlfriend/wife accidentally hit this weirdo with their car. The guy they hit was running down the road after gashing open his thigh and inserting a metal rod in it. They toss his body in a ravine and then it's implied that main character and his girlfriend/wife have sex before leaving. The next day, the main character finds a piece of metal protuding from the side of his face. A girl who sits next to him while waiting for the subway is infected by a coil of metal wires. It's implied that she's under the control of weirdo. Seems he wasn't killed by the car accident. She chases our main character while mutating more and more. He escapes only to find that more and more of his own body is becoming metal. Rushing home to his girlfriend/wife, he finds that his erection has been replaced with a giant drill bit. At first this doesn't sit too well with him and he hides from her after accidentally slicing the coffee table in two with his wang. She states she still loves him and dies trying to have sex with him. The accident victim shows up at the house and attacks the main character. Then things get really weird. (yeah I thought the power tool for reproductive organ was a topper, but no.)
I don't think of this movie as horror. It plays at it and you can see the characters situations as horrifying, but I find that it is actually a veiled attempt at social commentary. The main character could represent a teenage boy going through puberty, with all the changes that occur in the body being symbolized with his increasing metal addons. In addition the changes wrought by puberty will force his existing relationships with the opposite sex to undergo a marked change. He will increasingly find himself destroying relationships by giving into his sexual urges. As well the fights with the accident victim show a marked repressed homosexual urge in our main character. His bonding with him in the end could be seen as a "coming out" of sorts.
I didn't enjoy the movie so much as was fascinated with the images. It has far to many scenes of scrap metal moving around in jumbled stop-motion animation. Although they are filmed very well, these seem pointless at many times. The soundtrack I did like. I found it amazing that it was so ahead of its time.
[font=Times New Roman][size=3]Prayer Beads is a Japanese mix of live action and CGI effects that plays like a rough Tales from the Darkside. The stories are a bit better in quality and have a definite asian cinema feel to them. Production values are high in these episodes and it definitely delivers the bang for the buck when it comes to chills. There are six episodes on the first DVD:[/size][/font]
[size=3][font=Times New Roman][b]1. Prayer Beads ? [/b]A really weak starting entry. Skip this one and come back to it after the others. Basically it?s the story of two girlfriends: one who is pregnant and one who has recently lost her husband. The actresses can be mistaken for one another in a couple of the key scenes, which leads to the ending being a ?oh, that?s what we were suppose to be seeing? instead of an ?oh my goodness, person x is bat-shit insane?. Also one of the scenes is of a well done Samara/Grudge-girl clone. It?s a great shocker even though it?s telegraphed, but points off for originality. Miss this one and come back to it when you can be more forgiving.[/font][/size]
[size=3][font=Times New Roman][b]2. Vending Machine Woman[/b]. ? Why they didn?t start with this great episode is a mystery. It?s got it all: isolation, creepy characters, forewarnings of doom and a mysterious drink that may be a bit habit forming. I?m going to spoil it below for those of you who can?t get these DVDs, but this is really a great episode and worth an unspoiled viewing.[/font][/size]
[font=Times New Roman][size=3]A young couple arrive at an isolated cabin in the woods for a weekend getaway. Once inside, they discover that the cabin is without water. They phone the manager, who is unwilling to come out to the cabin at night because too many people have been ?spirited away? while wandering out after dark by there. The girlfriend gets upset, being hot and tired, and sends the boyfriend out to get drinks. He ends up lost down a dead-end road that ends at a dilapidated vending machine. Only one of its buttons is lit. Also, the machine makes strange noises when dispensing drinks. They are a brand he?s never heard of, but he takes two back anyway.[/size][/font]
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[font=Times New Roman][size=3][spoiler][/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3]The girlfriend doesn?t want the soda, but the boyfriend tries one and becomes instantly addicted to it. After guzzling it down, he asks if he can have hers too. Seeing how much he liked it causes the girl (who?s kinda bitchy and demanding) to down hers as well. Next thing you know the boy starts to retch. He goes in the bathroom and has an acid trip. Suddenly both of them act like they?ve taken x and proceed to hump like rabbits. [/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=3]The next morning, they find the car is out of gas. While the boyfriend walks to the road and back to hitch to the nearest gas station, the manager comes by to fix the pipes and leaves some food and some gas for them. Unsuccessful at getting any gas, the boy comes back. After kicking himself for not calling the manager in the first place, he proceeds to make lunch. Unfortunately both of them find they no longer like the taste of cooked meat, preferring to eat the strips raw instead. This triggers another round of passionate kissing before they decide to visit the vending machine for a second hit.[/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=3]They get halfway down the abandoned road where they encounter the manager. He warns them again about being out after dark, lest they disappear. When they reach the vending machine, only one soda can comes out. They both start to fight over who got to drink the most of it, when suddenly the door to the vending machine pops open. Out steps a sallow looking man in a suit who moans that they?ve ?drank it all up, all of it? before he crumbles to dust. The couple starts to run away, but two ropy spiked tentacles impale the girl through the collarbone and proceed to reel her back into the guts of the vending machine. And guts they are, large intestinal sacks and tubes covered in mucous with a woman?s head poking out near the floor. As both the girlfriend and the vending machine?s head scream, the boyfriend tries to free her. He is unsuccessful and the door to the machine closes, trapping her inside. As the boy runs off screaming insanely, all four drink selection lights on the front of the machine light up, one by one.[/spoiler][/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=3][img]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v229/SonOfCthulhu/VMW1.jpg[/img][/size][/font]
[size=3][font=Times New Roman][b]3. It?s Me [/b]? Yuki hasn?t been feeling himself lately. Could be because he and his ?business partner? are conning people out of money. Yuki plays the hardest part, first by calling someone?s house and saying ?It?s me?, taking on the persona of whoever they think ?me? is. Once he has a name, the scam is to pretend that Yuki?s character has hit someone with his car and the accident is so bad that he doesn?t want to go to the police. His friend plays the heavy who?s fine with settling the matter if the price is right. Yuki then does the money pickup as the driver?s trusted friend. [/font][/size]
[font=Times New Roman][size=3]Even if the con and his mentally unstable friend weren?t stressing him out, his meeting with the local crimelord surely would. Having your hands tied and a plastic bag over your head does that to most people. Getting off with a warning does nothing to ease the pressure either. The mob boss is a neat-freak psycho.[/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=3]Yet it?s his next mark that is really problematic. The mark calls him ?Yuki? when he gives them the ?It?s me? line. When he goes to make the pickup, this senile old grandmother keeps calling him by his real name and not the name Yuki gives. ?Grandma? also feeds him a familiar dinner in her house while Yuki discovers several ghostly apparitions. In the end, Yuki gets to discover that sometimes a con can go too far and the price you may pay is too high.[/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=3]Great plotline for this one. The red herrings keep you tantalized right up until the end. [/size][/font]
[size=3][font=Times New Roman][b]4. REAL [/b]? A slightly disappointing entry as we watch Dr. Azuma try to filter fact from fantasy. He?s a surgeon who?s lost faith in his healing ability, is bothered by constant headaches, and was recently stabbed in the arm by a colleague, Nagai, who went crazy at the hospital. His supervisor tells him he needs to stop smoking and be more realistic. His wife is unsympathetic to the stress he is under. So when Nagai reappears with the name of a man who can relieve his headaches, Azuma reluctantly decides to meet him. But he is about to learn that the side effects of using certain drugs may be hazardous to one?s sanity.[/font][/size]
[size=3][font=Times New Roman][b]5. Mushroom Hunting [/b]? Three members of a chat group decide to undertake a trip to the country to pick mushrooms. Maki is a tomboy who lives with her grandma. Yuu is a brash frat boy from a college made famous by a date-rape scandal. Kuni is a shy computer nerd who doesn?t talk much. An old man beside the trail warns them with a legend of a witch who lives on the mountain they are on. Ignoring folklore might not be wise, and a harmless trip to pick mushrooms may turn into a journey only one of them will return from. This trip is a solid addition. Not scary, a slight bit predictable, but neat reversal and an ending that delivers.[/font][/size]
[b][size=3][font=Times New Roman]Prayer Beads, Vol 2[/font][/size][/b]
[font=Times New Roman][size=3]A still gallery and the trailer used to promote the series rounds out the second and last disk. [/size][/font]
[size=3][font=Times New Roman][b]6. Eddie [/b]? Poor little Ikuo. It?s bad enough he has to live with this grandpa after the death of both his parents. The precocious little 5-year old also has several other problems. Grandpa is a decent caregiver, but his preoccupation with Eddie means gramps doesn?t pay Ikuo enough attention. His gossipy Aunt has been spreading rumors about Ikuo saying that he is a bad luck magnet. Makoto Yamamoto, the host of TV?s The Wide Show, is generally annoying and keeps sticking a camera in Ikuo face to get a good on-air Eddie quote. [/font][/size]
[font=Times New Roman][size=3]But Eddie is the worst problem of all. The media phenomena surrounding the appearance of Eddie, a cute seal-like creature, has caused Ikuo?s whole town to go Eddie crazy. But there is something about the adorable gray animal that was found living in Edo province?s river that makes Ikuo uneasy. And Ikuo has a way of making things he doesn?t like disappear.[/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=3]I loved this one. It was predictable to a fault, following the unwritten rule that you never trust anything cute. But even though I expected all the plot twists, I did get attached to the characters. The nice thing about the short running times on these shows is that any plot twists come pretty quick. That makes enduring the set up for them much easier. Heck, you can even begin to appreciate how well done each show handles the build up.[/size][/font] [img]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v229/SonOfCthulhu/Eddie1.jpg[/img]
[size=3][font=Times New Roman][b]7. Echoes [/b]? The young and beautiful woman named Yumika disappears and is presumed dead. Her grandfather appears to have a psychic flash leading to the discovery of a clue to her killer?s identity. Grandpa starts a personal search for revenge knowing only that the murdered bears the tattoo ?Dai Kei?. Meanwhile, Yumika?s lover is paid a surprise visit by Yumika?s identical twin sister, Yae. While Yae takes the young man as her lover, Yumika?s grandfather finds the tattooed man and prepares to confront him.[/font][/size]
[font=Times New Roman][size=3]An incredibly well put together episode. It featured a marvelous understated scoring with a lots of mournful harps. The atmosphere of the grandfather?s loss permeated each scene. Great third act with some really big surprises, gratefully not telegraphed this time. An amazing episode that may be my favorite. [/size][/font]
[size=3][font=Times New Roman][b]8. Cat?s Paw [/b]? Shota is a thoroughly unhappy little boy. He is beaten up and harassed by the school bullies, his teachers and principal use him like a stool pigeon and his parents are just beginning what looks like a messy divorce. So who could blame him for resorting to escaping via an online anime cartoon about a character who gets three wishes. Who could know the wishes granted to Shota in the cartoon by Nyanta, the talking, ninja garbed cat, could actually have real life consequences. [/font][/size]
[font=Times New Roman][size=3]This is a decent updating of ?The Monkey?s Paw? but the best parts of it are the creepy goodness of the Nyanta animation. Especially the third wish, that echoes the original story but in a much more dramatic way.[/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][/font] [size=3][font=Times New Roman][b]9. Apartment[/b][/font][font=Times New Roman] ? A mother and her two teenage children are about to find out that being in a family with an abusive, alcoholic father can be a bit like spending time with a murdering psychopath. This sly last entry is great fun. Note the television?s portrayal of violence being loud bang-bang shoot?em ups while the real violence inflicted here is much quieter and more subtle. Also check out how the ending features cameos of casts from the other episodes. Could it even hint that there is more to come? Let?s hope so![/font][/size] [font=Times New Roman][/font]
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Another week blew by while I blinked. Well, instead of trying to fill the small space here with what on in the big place outside of RT, I'll just endorse [b]Shrek 2[/b] and move on. Fans of the first film will enjoy it. I found myself liking it better than the first film. Charming and cruddy family fun.