Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Horus Kemwer presents his Favorite/ Least Favorite Monster!

Our own Horus Kemwer of of Against the Modern World sends in his picks for Favorite and Least Favorite Monster!  My, but these entries are diverse, and I have to give Horus extra points for style.

Tetsuo, The Iron Man, at his angriest

My Favorite Monster: Tetsuo, The Iron Man

Tetsuo is star of two classic cyberpunk movies by visionary Japanese director Shinya Tsukamoto, Tetso: The Iron Man (1989) and Tetsuo II: Body Hammer (1992) (all screencaps from the latter).

[Note: the name is a pun in Japanese as the prefix "Tetsu-" can mean "iron" and the ending "-o" can mean man, though these are not the characters with which the common name "Tetsuo" is usually written.]

Tetsuo is a mild mannered (nay, downright wimpy!) Japanese "salaryman" who is one day mysteriously harassed by strange techno-punks. He discovers that when angered, his arm turns into a gigantic gun which he then fires at his antagonists in blind rage.

In typically perverse Japanese fashion, Tetsuo is tricked into slaughtering is loved ones by this strange ability (in the first movie, his wife, in the second his son—essentially the second film is just a larger budget retelling of the story in the first rather than a sequel proper).

As tense situations (and correspondingly, Tetsuo's degree of anger and stress) increase, he discovers that more and more of his body is able to sprout guns.

Tetsuo's chest is now a barrage of firing cannons!

Although the source of Tetsuo's strange "ability" (curse?) is eventually revealed, I'll leave the curious reader to discover it via netflix . . . (hint: it's not pleasant)

The appeal of Tetsuo is the usual man down fights back taken to extremes. First, Tetsuo the salaryman is so pathetic and beset upon that he takes the beleaguered victim syndrome to a new level. When he turns badass, though, he turns so badass he can't even control himself.

Tetsuo's become a full on mecha for his final battle

Unfortunately, none of the screencaps really do Tetsuo justice. And this is another big part of what makes him so cool: Tetsuo really only exists in the mind of the viewer. Tsukamoto "creates" Tetsuo out of a barrage of crazy imagery, fast cutting, frenetic industrial music, and bizarre atmospherics. At no point do you really get a clear view of him, but in your mind you build up a whole construct of crazy machinery. Tetsuo isn't just a costume, he's a whole music video, limited only in its cyberpunk badassery by your own imagination!

Baixo Astral talks to his TV set
My Least Favorite Monster: Baixo Astral (aka "The Down Mood")

Baixo Astral is the villain from the Brazilian children's (?) movie Super Xuxa contra Baixo Astral (1988), which I've seen most convincingly translated ("Baixo Astral" sure does not mean "Satan" in Portuguese) as "Super Xuxa vs. the Down Mood." And "Down Mood" really seems to sort of fit the character of Baixo Astral, who is dedicated to bringing war, destruction, corruption, vandalism, and anything that's downbeat into the world.

SXCBA stars Xuxa Meneghel, the single hottest children's show host ever to talk the face of the earth (oft parodied by ignorant Americans, jealous that none of the children's shows they grew up with had hosts anywhere near as hot). Nevertheless, the movie is inventive, with crazy scenes and catchy music.

Except when Baixo Astral and his dopey sidekicks are on screen.

The lamest sidekicks in any children's movie ever
Frankly, Baixo Astral himself wouldn't be that bad if his supposed evil hadn't been set up as being so intense. Frankly, he just can't live up to it. Add to that the fact that he has the lamest sidekicks in the entire universe and every moment with him just sucks.

Even the climax sucks. Baixo Astral tries to keep Xuxa's mood down by "shooting" her with his TV gun which shows sucky downbeat things like violence. The gun itself has actually a kinda cool cyberpunk design, but somehow, wielded by Baixo Astral, it just turns to suck.

TV guns could be cool, but not this one
But really, the worst thing about Baixo Astral is that whenever he's around, fun things like this aren't happening:

Final note: if you bear in mind that Brazil is a country that dealt with its homeless street urchin problem by simply shooting them, then the appeal of someone like Super Xuxa coming along and painting everything like a rainbow so everyone can just live happily together seems a lot more understandable . . .

If you haven't ever Googled 90's-era Latin-American children's TV host, Xuxa, I highly suggest you do so.  I still remember stumbling across her while in college, and remember wishing I knew more Spanish.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Watching Tetsuo and Akira together back to back, greatest college mindtrip in the world.