Wild Zero stands tall among fans of movies that blend zombies and humor. It shares a strong sensibility with movies like Bio-Zombie and Stacy, along with the trippy atmosphere of movies like Evil Dead 2 and The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai. I’ll post a plot summary at the bottom of this post, so you can avoid too many spoilers if you’re keen to maintain the integrity of the plot. A few thoughts:
- Obviously, as a Japanese movie, this film comes from a different culture than I do, and it stresses different things, draws on different character traditions, and so on. But man, this show is out there. There are several different sets of characters, each with their own stories that are only related tangentially, and each more outrageous than the other. It helps to think of the movie as a giant music video rather than as a narrative film.
- The message of love in the film is actually really strong: Guitar Wolf has love for his band-mates and his rock-n-roll blood brother, Ace; the cowardly couple love one another no matter what happens; Ace takes GW’s admonition that love knows no boundaries to heart at the end of the film.
- Almost incidentally, this movie includes an alien invasion. I was reminded of the Neil Gaiman story from Fragile Things in which he lists apocalypse after apocalypse, all happening on the same day. Yikes!
- This movie also takes to heart the idea that Rock N’ Roll transcends the mundane state of being in which most of us wallow. A few other films that work from similar premises: Buckaroo Bonzai (mentioned above), Young Einstein (in which Einstein–from Australia, not Austria–not only discovers how to split beer atoms, he invents Rock and Roll), and The Commitments, which isn’t quite as fantastical as the other films. The movie also reminds me of Patton Oswalt’s bit about 80’s rock videos. (NOT SAFE FOR WORK, lots of swearing; start at about 1:27 for the specific bit I like)
- There are two bizarre characters who do not wear pants, for no reason I can think of. One is the club-owner/ woman-abuser/ gangster, who wears weird hot-pants tied together on the sides. The other is the weapons dealer, who wears a one-piece swimsuit/business suit that looks really uncomfortable to me.
Plot synopsis, with a SPOILERS:
Our main character is Ace, a die-hard fan of the band Guitar Wolf. When he accidentally saves Guitar Wolf from being killed by a corrupt club owner, they make Ace their Rock and Roll blood brother, appearing to him in visions throughout the rest of the film to encourage him to do the right thing. The next day, he’s on his way to another GW show when he runs into a group of three slackers robbing a gas station and accidentally foils the robbery. The thieves run away and Ace joins up with a young woman, Tobio, hanging out at the gas station. Meanwhile, there are zombies all over the place because aliens are circling the Earth. A weapons dealer finds herself surrounded by zombies, who also ate the gangster she had been scheduled to meet. The three thieves stop for a rest and one is eaten. The other two run away, ending up back at the gas station where Ace met his girlfriend.
Over the course of the rest of the film, we learn that Guitar Wolf has rock and roll superpowers, that gangsters can shoot lightning from their eyes, and more. It’s a strange, weird ride. Worth it if you enjoyed the similar films I mentioned above, perhaps even if you didn’t.