Japanese Film Reviews #20: Takeuchi Tetsuro’s WILD ZERO (2000)

Wild Zero follows the three band members of Guitar Wolf; Guitar Wolf (vocals and guitar), Bass Wolf (bass), and Drum Wolf (you guessed it, drums). This trio are the hottest musicians in rural Asahi-cho and only believe in three things; love, justice, and Rock’n’Roll. Tired of the dirty ways of their evil yakuza business manager, the Captain (played by Inamiya Makoto in a variety of wigs), Guitar Wolf decides to quit and continue their career as independent musicians. Thanks to some accidental help from Ace (Endo Masashi), a young rockabilly and avid Guitar Wolf fan, the band members manage to escape the Captain, but not before robbing him and shooting off two of his fingers. Recognizing that Ace lives by the same Rock’n’Roll code of honor, Guitar Wolf makes him his blood brother and gives him a whistle with instructions to ‘blow it if you ever need help.’ Sure enough, Ace and his love interest Tobio (Shitichai Kwancharu) soon need help from the leather-clad rock stars to battle off a horde of zombies and save Earth from some nasty extraterrestrial invaders.

At first glance, Wild Zero might seem like nothing more than a vehicle to promote the Japanese punk Rock’n’Roll band Guitar Wolf. However, Wild Zero is a genuinely enjoyable zombie campfest. Apparently, director Takeuchi Tetsuro begged Guitar Wolf to star in this movie. This was a good decision on Takeuchi’s part – Guitar Wolf’s noisy, indecipherable music is a perfect accompaniment to the zombie mayhem and the film manages to recreate the mood of The Rocky Horror Picture Show while remaining completely original and effortless. Takeuchi Tetsuro’s directing is surely to thank for this; he makes potentially dull scenes hilarious (I particularly like the audition for a young pop idol and her song ‘Love Love Beam’) and doesn’t draw attention to the film’s low budget. The sunglass-sporting members of Guitar Wolf have little dialog and mainly play a supporting role. The real heart of story rests in the budding love between Ace and Tobio…and the small problem that this love needs to overcome.

Shitichai Kwancharu, who plays Tobio, and many of the zombies are played by Thai actors. I’m not sure why the zombies are Thai, but Tobio’s nationality definitely makes sense in the context of her character. The most horrifying aspect of the film is not the walking dead (Wild Zero has some pretty atrocious effects makeup) but the Captain’s disturbing page-boy haircut and needlessly tight short-shorts.

Truly, the best part of Wild Zero is watching a bunch of Japanese men run around in leather jackets, comb their pompadours, and drive American muscle cars and motorcycles. It’s good to know that the spirit of Rock’n’Roll is alive and well…in Japan.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments (3)

  1. pnksweater

    Glad to see someone else has this movie. One more thing to look forward to when returning to Japan- I can watch my copy of Wild Zero!

    The bands still kicking, though it really is too bad about Billy.

    May 23, 2010
    • constantineintokyo

      Yeah, the heart attack was really surprising. I adore Guitar Wolf and this movie only makes me love them more!

      May 24, 2010
  2. safin

    48 GO GREEN
    The Ultimate International Eco Film Fest
    The Film competition To Save The Planet!

    48 Go Green is a 48-hour short film festival with a difference. With the power to inspire and to change the world, 48 Go Green was born out of the creativity of the world’s filmmakers, the passion of its story-tellers and the immediate need to save our environment.
    Anyone, anywhere on earth can enter and be a part of one of the biggest global film festivals of 2011. All you need is a camera, a can-do attitude and a spark of creativity and you could find yourself attending the prestigious screening of your VERY OWN film at Cannes Short Film Corner and the NAB Show in Las Vegas!
    48 Go Green is brought to you by executive producer Francesco Vitali & producer Christos Siametis in association with the founders of the 48 Hour Film Project, Mark Ruppert and Liz Langston. The 48 Go Green has joined forces with the original 48 Hour Film Project to bring a unique and inspirational opportunity to ecologically-minded film enthusiasts around the globe. Inspired by our planet’s natural beauty and the creativity and passion of filmmakers around the world what better way to explore the environmental challenges we face than to channel that adrenaline, enthusiasm and intense creativity into powerful and thought-provoking short films?
    Also at stake is a total of $15,000 of prize money to the winning filmmakers who will have their films screened at Cannes International Film Festival in the prestigious Short Film Corner and at the Las Vegas NAB show from April 9th – 14th 2011.
    First place offers a cash prize of $5,000 with $2,000 going to the runner up and $1,000 for third place filmmakers.
    The top 16 films will be prestigiously screened at the Las Vegas NAB show.
    This year there will be no committee of judges. Instead the public will vote on their favourite film in the competition.
    Message from Executive Producer Francesco Vitali:
    “We want your film to be loved by the people who love films, by people like you who know how to pick up a camera, by colleagues who themselves write scripts, or who themselves have collaborated in any way on the completion of a film, or at very least by people who are fans of films in general. The public has emotions and the instinct as it has the responsibility of its opinion.”
    “So what are you waiting for? Assemble your team of creatives, your camera-equipped eco-warriors and prepare to make a stand against the destruction of our planet by creating the most powerful cinematic message, a 48 Go Green Short Film!

    January 17, 2011

Comments are now closed for this post.