There’s a good case to be made for depriving cult film-makers of money for projects, as it forces them to become more imaginative because they have less to work with. Often an abundance of choice leads to total mediocrity, or at the very least slightly poorer work.
Tetsuo II: Body Hammer isn’t a sequel per sé, more Shin’ya Tsukamoto‘s reimagining of the original Tetsuo: The Iron Man, in a slightly different setting. The melding of man and machine remains, as does the kinetic energy and gruesome effects, but without the passion, force and originality of its previous outing.
Like in the original, the metal fetishist and the businessman (now named Tomoo) are played by Shin’ya Tsukamoto and Tomorowo Taguchi respectively. When Tomoo’s son Minori is kidnapped by cyborg skinheads, he chases after them and ends up being injected with a strange serum that triggers a transformation to happen within his body, resulting in unexpected guns from unexpected places, among other things.
The film suffers from Godfather III syndrome – if it was released as a standalone film, without the genius of the original to compare it to, then the film would probably have been more generously received in its time and would play better today. It’s by no means a failure; it just suffers from being preceeded by a much greater film. The original was David Lynch and JG Ballard playing in the bath; this version is Sam Raimi. By himself.
The colour cinematography ages the film, which wasn’t a problem for the monochrome original. It loses all of its magnetic charm. No longer does the film open itself up and rub its viscera all in your face, it just politely asks for a kiss. A disappointing reimagining – whatever next?