Wild Zero (2000)

Starring Guitar Wolf, Bass Wolf, Drum Wolf, Masashi Endo, City Chai

Directed by Tetsuro Takeuchi

Imagine if The Misfits and director McG (Charlie’s Angels) teamed up for a horror film. It’d be flashy. Action-packed. Lots of style over story. And hopefully it’d be bloody. The end result might look like Wild Zero, a hilarious, zombie-killin’ Japanese import that certainly sets itself apart from such moody, creepy Japanese horror films like Ring and Tell Me Something.

With that in mind, it’s no wonder why the film’s incredibly campy. Don’t expect serious horror with this one. Why?

For one, it stars Guitar Wolf, a Japanese post-punk rock band who sounds a lot like The Ramones. The band’s trio (Guitar Wolf, Bass Wolf, and Drum Wolf) are not seasoned actors so the most they can do is reek of tough-guy attitude in their leather jackets and sunglasses and ham it up for the camera…you love every minute of it. It’s hilarious.

Sort of like an undead-killing El Mariachi, Guitar Wolf, with his guitar strapped to his back and riding a motorcycle that erupts flame from its tailpipe, rides into a small town where the dead walk presumably because of a meteorite and the arrival of Mars Attacks-like flying saucers.

That’s only a small part of the story.

Our lead is a greaser named Ace, an avid Guitar Wolf fan who follows the band from town to town checking out every venue GW plays at. In his travels, he, too, winds up in the same town of the undead only to meet Tobio, a gal who has a BIG secret. Somewhere along the way they cross paths with a broke, stoned-out teen trio off to see the meteorite; a female arms dealer who fights off zombies in her shower; a pissed-off club manager in hot pants anxious to see Guitar Wolf dead; and finally some mob boss and his bodyguards.

That’s as far as I can go in divulging the plot. In fact, there really isn’t much more to explain. The characters are quickly introduced and faster than you can say “Bub”…the zombie’s chew their way through the cast.

Wild Zero is manic, ridiculous, insane, and just plain fun. The humor is over-the-top and reminiscent of The Convent. The blood is excessive and the zombie FX looks great. Heck, they look a lot better than the zombies I’ve seen from the upcoming Resident Evil flick. For as low as the budget is, some (and I mean some) of the CG looks pretty good. Rather than use an exploding puppet zombie head (for when someone took a bullet to the brain), CG was incorporated to make the head explode. It took me off guard, at first, but it works. Ever see three zombie heads explode from one shot of a Magnum? You will.

Interestingly enough, director Takeuchi told Fango that he thinks movies are a joke, hence all of the humor in the film. It also explains the long punk music-accompanied montages. Aside from being a promo piece for Guitar Wolf, the film is an exercise in every camera/FX/editing trick in the book. The only thing missing was the good old “bullet time” shot. And forget your basic “wipes” or “dissolves” to transition from one scene to the next. At times, the screen literally bursts into flames to take you into the next zombie-crunchin’ sequence.

Like the film itself, the performances and dialogue (“Rock and roll will never die!”) are incredibly zany and Takeuchi maintains a nice balance between letting the actors play out the physical humor and using bizarre camera technique (like speeding up the film) to get the laughs.

Wild Zero is definitely something to watch with a group or at a horror party. Your devoted Rotten one had to watch it all by himself to bring you this review…but he certainly had a blast.

3 out of 5

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Jon Condit

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