Wild Zero (1999)

Wild Zero (1999)

Wild Zero (1999)

As we know from countless zombie movies, the army are pretty useless against zombie invasion. Wild Zero explains why; it’s because they’re using guns and bombs when all they really needed (all anyone really needs) is Rock n Roll!

Probably the only punk rock zombie action/transsexual coming of age love story ever made, Wild Zero is based around the Japanese band Guitar Wolf, whose three members (Guitar Wolf, Bass Wolf and Drum Wolf) all feature.

The plot is as fun and demented as you could possibly imagine. A young fan of the band, Ace helps out his heroes in an altercation with their manager, a sleazy character who preys on young girls and wears a red wig and hot pants. As a reward for his bravery and dedication to Rock n Roll, Guitar Wolf makes Ace his Rock n Roll blood brother and gives him a whistle to blow if he ever needs help. That time comes when an army of flying saucers arrives, turning people into zombies. Ace tries to help a girl he meets, Tobio, but lets her down when he finds out that ‘she’ is not all she appears. Surrounded by zombies and ashamed of himself for how he has treated the person he loves, Ace blows the whistle to summon his favourite band.

Guitar Wolf in Wild Zero (1999)

Guitar Wolf in Wild Zero (1999)

As you might expect, Guitar Wolf take the alien invasion in their stride, they don’t even seem surprised by the appearance of zombies. Soon they’re helping out people caught up in the invasion (including a beautiful, gun-toting kickass who is attacked while taking a shower), killing zombies by firing plectrums at them like ninja stars infused with the power of Rock n Roll. With the help of the samurai sword inside his guitar, Guitar Wolf single-handedly defeats the alien/zombie invasion and teaches Ace that there are no boundaries in Rock n Roll, or in love, thus reuniting him with Tobio.

Wild Zero (1999)

Wild Zero (1999)

If all this sounds insane, then it absolutely is. If it all sounds like an extended music video then it’s that as well. But it’s also hilarious, satisfyingly gory (the regularly exploding heads are particularly good) and unexpectedly sweet. It’s a film that follows its own path and makes no apology for its wild excesses. Directed by Japanese music video maestro Tetsuro Takeuchi in hyper-kinetic, MTV inflected style, the film seldom slows down enough to catch its breath or deliver anything like an explanation. Why are Guitar Wolf essentially superhuman? Because they’re Guitar Wolf. Why are the aliens turning people into zombies? Because they’re aliens. Why are so many of the zombies a Smurf-ish shade of blue? Who cares. None of this stuff matters. If you’re unwilling to turn off your brain for 100 minutes and let logic take a holiday then this film is guaranteed to confuse and infuriate you. But if you just go with it and accept it in all it’s over the top ridiculousness, then you can’t help enjoying it. There’s also a romantic zombie couple framed by a heart on the screen and when else are you going to see that?

But actually, and since I don’t want to sell it short, the film has its serious moments as well. While the central love story is going to make some uncomfortable, it’s very sensitively handled and makes a nice point about tolerance, and the fact that Rock n Roll has always been a haven for those branded as different.

Wild Zero (1999)

Wild Zero (1999)

The music might likewise not be to everyone’s taste but, given that this is their movie, the band are extremely generous with screen time. There’s only a couple of ‘performed’ songs and while it is the band who show up to save the day, this is first and foremost Ace’s story. The music never overwhelms the story or the characters. There’s no doubt that the film is about the band, but it’s not all about the band.

Wild Zero (1999)

Wild Zero (1999)

From any objective point of view, Wild Zero probably has to be viewed as a bad film, except of course that it’s all kinds of entertaining. Bottom line; shouldn’t work, but it really does.

Watch the trailer for ‘Wild Zero’.


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Written by: Robin Bailes.