Tomoo (Tomorô Taguchi), a straight-laced Japanese salaryman, goes ballistic – literally – when his son is kidnapped by skinhead cyborgs, his impotent rage and despair causing his body to metamorphose into a machine-human hybrid with gun turret arms and exhaust pipe ribs. The slender plot, such as it is, is a transparent excuse for director Tsukamoto to revisit the premise of Tetsuo: The Iron Man, his black and white cult classic from 1989, but this time with a bigger budget, better special effects and colour photography. Essentially a remake of the earlier film, Body Hammer fuses its heavy-metal, cyber-surrealist aesthetic with body-horror imagery redolent of David Cronenberg at his most visually inventive. The grungy, fetid atmosphere, retina-searing visuals and strong fetishist, sadomasochistic undercurrents make for a nightmarish yet intoxicating head-trip.
Notes by David O’Mahony
Screening as part of Dark Skies: Man Vs Machine, June 8th to 30th. A multi-film pass is available directly from the IFI Box Office – 4 films for €37, excluding Terminator 2: Judgment Day (70mm).