zombiesMasashi EndoYoshiyuki MorishitaShiro Namiki
Wild Zero
Medium: film
Year: 2000
Director: Tetsuro Takeuchi
Writer: Tetsuro Takeuchi, Satoshi Takagi
Keywords: SF, horror, yakuza, zombies
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Actor: Guitar Wolf, Drum Wolf, Bass Wolf, Masashi Endo, Kwancharu Shitichai, Makoto Inamiya, Haruka Nakajo, Shiro Namiki, Taneko, Yoshiyuki Morishita, Masao, Tawaki Fusamori, Akihiko Murata, Enami Esako, Kae Egawa
Format: 98 minutes
Url: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0267116/
Website category: J-horror
Review date: 22 October 2010
Wild Zero is a Japanese science-fiction rock 'n' roll horror action film with flying saucers, rock stars, yakuza, a chick with a dick and lots of zombies. In addition it stars (as themselves) the EXTREMELY LOUD garage punk band Guitar Wolf, whose members are called Guitar Wolf, Bass Wolf and Drum Wolf. You can probably stop reading there. However for those who want to know the full gory truth...
1 - When the zombie apocalypse comes, what you need is rock stars because they're Earth's greatest heroes.
2 - When attacked by zombies, the manly thing to do is to burst into tears because you'll never be as cool as Guitar Wolf. Yes, this really happens in the movie.
3 - Guitar picks make zombies' heads explode.
4 - Zombies can talk, but only in really deep voices.
5 - Rock and Roll will never die. This is also true for Lock and Loll.
6 - Almost anything can belch cool-looking flames as part of its normal functioning, e.g. motorcycles, cars, microphones, movie scene transitions.
7 - If Guitar Wolf is coming to your rescue, everything's cool and it doesn't matter if he gets involved in an unrelated subplot and takes half an hour's screen time to get to you. This is true even if we last saw you fighting off zombies. You will have summoned Guitar Wolf with a whistle that he heard despite not even being in the same town.
8 - If you're charging to rescue your girlfriend from zombies, a dozen of them will be neatly arranged around her, their hands all about six inches from her body.
9 - Guitar Wolf can decapitate three zombies with one shot and his guitar is a samurai sword.
10 - Musicians always wear sunglasses, even at night in a zombie movie.
11 - If guns don't make a zombie fall down, try feebly waving a mop while charging into the middle of a whole bunch of them. This will work.
The DVD suggests a Wild Zero drinking game, in you take a drink whenever: (a) someone drinks, (b) someone combs their hair, (c) fire shoots out of anything, (d) anyone says Rock 'n' Roll, (e) something explodes, (f) a zombie's head pops. If some idiot really did this, by the end of the film they'd have downed about a hundred drinks. I'm probably making this sound like the best movie in the world and it's certainly true that the people who love this film have gone totally apeshit for it. If you're looking for ridiculousness, step right on up. Wild Zero has that in spades. However it's also rather amateurish, with a plot that's all over the shop and a cast of characters that it doesn't seem to know how to handle.
Firstly, the acting. Guitar Wolf are not actors. They're not even trying to be. They're basically doing their stage personas for the film, which takes a bit of a learning curve for you to get used to. They're basically black leather, sunglasses and obsessively over-groomed hair, but with guns. Note that their involvement in the first half of the film is basically to play their music on stage, whether or not this has anything to do with the rest of the movie.
Fortunately though we also have some incidental characters, some of whom are played by actors who've worked in other films. (1) The most important is Masashi Endo as Ace, who hasn't been in much stuff but was in the minimalist violent road movie 19. He's rather good, actually. That's a rich slice of ham he's serving up, but that's exactly what the film required and he's pitching his performance just right. (2) There's a chubby girl and her rat-faced weasel boyfriend. (3) There's Shiro Namiki, who's been in lots of stuff, e.g. Noriko's Dinner Table, Ichi, Japan Sinks. (4) There's a female gun-toting soldier who goes around in a disturbing combination of business suit and leotard, except in her first Psycho-inspired scene where she's in the shower and zombies come and tear her clothes up. Gentlemen, we have a new definition of cinematic genius. Her response is to grab a gun and blow them away, which means we see her tits. Obviously this is the film's greatest scene, but unfortunately the actress (Haruka Nakajo) never acted in anything else and is also prone to distracting head movements.
Incidentally this film was shot in Thailand. The zombies are Thai soldiers and their families, while the character of Tobio was played by a Thai actress and later dubbed by a Japanese one. Don't worry, though. Tobio isn't supposed to be able to say much Japanese anyway.
What this film has going for it is how much it's prepared to play around. Of course it knows how silly Guitar Wolf are. It doesn't care. That's the whole point. In outline this is identical to any number of dreary straight-to-video horror throwaways, but those films don't have Benny Hill speeded-up comedy running, deliberately ridiculous exploding heads and those occasional Michael Bay fireball scene transitions. When characters are in love, their heads appear in heart-shaped balloons. This film is completely different to something like Junk, which was another Japanese yakuza-zombie schlocker with gore and nudity, but was also following the rules and managing to be a fairly traditional example of its genre. Wild Zero on the other hand plays almost like a spoof. This means that any one scene is liable to be wildly entertaining (e.g. the wannabe idol's audition), but it's struggling at feature length.
It could be argued that the film has a theme. No, really. There are two unconventional romances, both of which are surprising and the second one (Hanako/Toshi) is both original and rather sweet. Guitar Wolf himself says that love knows no borders or genders. That was surprisingly good. However at the end of the day, this is a film about some of the most ridiculous superheroes you've ever seen, backed up by a movie that's going out of its way to keep choosing the oddest, silliest, daftest or more surprising option it can think of. The villain is a sleazy male manager in rent boy shorts and a variety of Beatles wigs, for instance. This is pretty much the definition of a cult film, but please bear in mind that it's not as good as I'm sure I've been making it sound.