Tetsuro Takeuchi, 2000
Starring: Guitar Wolf, Bass Wolf, Drum Wolf, Masashi Endo, Kwancharu Shitichai
This has pretty much everything I've ever wanted in a move: zombies, gore, aliens, a punk band, transgender love, a drinking game, motorcycles, muscle cars, guns, hot Japanese dudes, and the spirit of true rock'n roll. It's an absolutely fun time and bears a lot in common with the spirit of Return of the Living Dead. Anyone who likes that film will surely enjoy Wild Zero (and anyone who doesn't like Return has no business reading this blog).
Ace (Masashi Endo) is the biggest Guitar Wolf fan in the world. While he is following them on tour he runs afoul of some zombies, who have come to earth because a flying saucer crashed somewhere in Japan. He has to protect Tobio, a cute girl he develops a crush on. Guitar Wolf, who are actually extra-terrestrials with super powers, become blood brothers with Ace and come to his aid. They wind up in an abandoned warehouse with a rag-tag band of people who have managed to survive the zombie invasion. Can they fight the zombies and the Captain, a club-owner and drug dealer who has come to defeat Guitar Wolf once and for all?
It's utterly ridiculous and joyful. I love this movie. It borrows mercilessly from Western horror, particularly over the top films like Evil Dead II and the aforementioned Return of the Living Dead. There are a couple things you need to know. First Guitar Wolf is a real band. They're actually pretty awesome. It's a mix of rockabilly, punk, and noise. In the film they play "themselves": Guitar Wolf, Seiji, the singer and guitarist, Bass Wolf, who is now deceased and has been replaced by a dude named U.G., and Drum Wolf, Toro.
Instead of the normal method of contagion found in Western zombie films -- toxic chemicals -- a couple of Japanese movies feature zombies that comes from space and are brought to earth by crashed UFOs. It seems a little ridiculous at first, but you get used to it. Wild Zero and Zombie Self Defense Force (2005) are my two favorite examples of this plot device. If you like to consider these things, it says a little something about cultural differences and unconscious fears. Obviously we aren't as concerned about things falling from the sky. But then, we've never been hit with an atomic bomb. Let alone two.
One of the best things about the movie, ridiculous though it may be, is its message: love has no boundaries. It openly supports love regardless of race, nationality, sexual orientation, or gender. Fuck yeah, Guitar Wolf.
I'm reviewing the Synapse DVD, which has a number of cool special features. The best of which is a drinking game you can select like a commentary track. A little foaming beer mug pops up in the corner anytime someone drinks or combs their hair, says "rock'n roll," a zombie's head explodes, anything explodes, or fire shoots out of something. Supposedly there are about 100 drinks total. I've made it halfway through with serious drinking and all the way through with little sips of beer. Hang over city.
I leave you with this...