Directed by Hiroaki Yoshida, whose Twilight of the Cockroaches had an English translation by Robotech remixer Carl Macek and inspired Joe’s Apartment, Iron Maze was co-written by Yoshida and Tim Metcalfe, who wrote Kalifornia, Revenge of the Nerds and Fright Night 2. What a resume! It was produced by Oliver Stone, whose name is high above everyone else on the VHS box art.
It’s all based In a Grove by Ryûnosuke Akutagawa, the writer of Rashomon.
It’s set in Corinth, Pennsylvania, a town that does not exist but was the setting for the soap opera Loving. Junichi Sugita (Hiroaki Murakami) has bought a local steel mill and plans on tearing it down to make a theme park — hey, Kennywood is ten minutes away if this is set in Pittsburgh — but he’s found near brain-dead inside his factory. Is it the steelworkers, led by former boss Jack Ruhle (J.T, Walsh) and Mayor Peluso (John Randolph), angry that they’re about to have to work minimum wage jobs? Or is it hotel worker Barry Mikowski (Jeff Fahey) who was insulted by Sugita and has been taking it out by sticking it to the man’s American wife Chris (Bridget Fonda)?
It’s Gung Ho with steel instead of cars and sex instead of hilarity.
This was shot in Braddock, the home of Martin and John Fetterman’s adopted hometown. This really gets across just how bad the dead mills made Pittsburgh amongst its surreal scenes. Fonda’s character is from Harmony, but I bet it’s really Zelienople and she doesn’t want to teach Japanese people how to pronounce that. Also: 1991 Bridget Fonda is a good argument for intelligent design.