directed by Shinya Tsukamoto
Read this if you like crazy shit!
THE ADVENTURE OF DENCHU-KOZO or *HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE UTILITY POLE GROWING OUT OF MY BACK is Shinya Tsukamoto’s fantastical 8mm film that preceded TETSUO: THE IRON MAN. It’s almost impossible to discuss Tsukamoto without mentioning TETSUO every 3.85 seconds, and for good reason. That film is a masterpiece. But TETSUO wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for a 27 year-old Tsukamoto making DENCHU-KOZO, entering it into a film festival and winning, providing him that oh-so-precious funding.
The movie follows a boy with a very noticeable deformity. He has a utility pole (also called an electric rod or electric pylon) growing straight up out of his back! Can’t hide that with concealer! He gets bullied for being a freak of course, and is rescued by Momo, a girl from school. He gives Momo a homemade time machine as a thank you gift and wouldn’t you know it that damned contraption goes all whoopsie-daisy sending him 25 years into the future.
The future is shrouded in darkness and a gang of punk vampires rules the streets. He meets a woman who explains to him the dire situation, and trains him so that he can prevent them from unleashing EVE, a human/bomb hybrid that will black out the sun for good allowing the vampos to reign supreme! There’s also a couple fun reveals along the way I won’t spoil here.
DENCHU-KOZO is similar to TETSUO in a lot of ways, utilizing small sets and tight camera shots along with wild characters, frenetic energy, and stop motion to create a fully realized world. They even zoom zoom zoom in stop motion down the same streets! But it’s the dreamlike faded color-palette in contrast to TETSUO’s stark black and white, and the whimsical fantasy in contrast to TETSUO’s sex driven sci-fi cyberpunk, that make DENCHU stand out in its own right. THE ADVENTURE OF DENCHU-KOZO is simply more fun.
There’s so much going on in this 47 minute movie that it’s hard to keep up. In a very WIZARD OF OZ way, the punk rock vampires are played by the guys who played the bullies in the beginning of the film. There’s puppeteering and camera tricks galore as an auteur in the making twists and bends his own insecurities into submission on screen for all to see, and we are better for it. Certainly the film is culled from a multitude of inspirations, but DENCHU-KOZO ends up being so wholly unique in its execution that it doesn’t feel like a mish-mash manga medley, but its own fairy tale for the ages. I love this crazy shit.
*Okay so I made this title up.