Today’s selection: Wild Zero (1999, dir. Tetsuro Takeuchi)
Available from: Synapse
Wild Zero is one of the mandatory cult classics, not just for fans of Japanese cinema, but in general, and is matched only possibly by Versus in the pantheon of Japanese zombie flicks. It’s an off-the-wall joyride of romance, ruffians, rock’n’roll, and of course, zombies, and and if that doesn’t speak to its manic nature, the DVD comes with a built-in drinking game. The movie is a vanity project for Guitar Wolf, a somewhat insane Japanese punk band who claim to have been raised by wolves. While most of their music can best be described as “noise”, they are of some note for laying down the BGM for the Teen Titans theme (Puffy AmiYumi did the vocals, though).
Guitar Wolf are only bit players in the film itself, though, as it focuses on a greaser fan of theirs named Ace. Ace sticks up for the band during a Mexican standoff with their transvestite manager, and in return is granted a magic whistle to summon them in the event of trouble. Ace later finds himself involved in a zombie uprising/alien invasion, so the whistle comes in handy. The result is an awesome mix of bullets, exploding heads, gratuitous nudity, and punk rock spirit. Plus, there’s zombie romance, a condemnation of pop idols, a flame-spewing motorcycle, a guitar sword, and a brilliant scene of a character coming to terms with his sexuality by going on a zombie crowbarring rampage. It’s pure fun, which makes it a shame that there’s never really been a follow-up, but just about anything tried would probably disappoint. The film as it stands will make you laugh and cheer, and even has a weird sort of tolerance message peppered in to top it all off. Wholeheartedly recommended for a rockin’ good time!