DIRECTED BY: Tetsuro Takeuchi
FEATURING: Masashi Endô, Kwancharu Shitichai, Guitar Wolf, Makoto Inamiya
PLOT: Guitar Wolf (frontman of the pistol-packing punk outfit Guitar Wolf) makes Ace a blood brother when the would-be greaser is injured during a showdown between the band and an evil club owner; the rock star gives him a whistle he can use to summon the band in times of need, which comes in useful when Ace finds himself trapped in a town overrun by zombies.
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: It’s more “wild” than “weird,” and more “awesome” than “great.” The surrealism sometimes seems to result from carelessness—as if the director is thinking, “no one’s going to care if this character suddenly shoots lasers from his eyes, as long as something blows up and the soundtrack’s loud”—rather than an ideological dedication to absurdity. It’s a crazy, fluffy pop confection made from zombies, punk rock and flying saucers, fun but totally non-nutritious; the younger, or the drunker, you are, the more likely you are to fall in love with it.
COMMENTS: When Wild Zero‘s advertising proclaims it a “super rock and roll jet movie!,” it reminds us that Westerners are as fascinated and amused by the way the Japanese absorb and alter American pop culture, chewing up and spitting our entertainment idioms back at us in twisted forms. Wild Zero is a fairly obvious mashup of Rock and Roll High School and Night of the Living Dead, but when seasoned with casual Oriental surrealism, it turns into something that feels unique and unclassifiable: a “super rock and roll jet movie!” The band Guitar Wolf, with their leather jackets, shades, shared surname (frontman Guitar Wolf shares the stage with sidekicks Bass Wolf and Drum Wolf), and fast and furious odes to teen rebellion, shamelessly crib from the Ramones. However, they add their own flavor to the recipe. The Ramones never had magical powers, arsenals of munitions, or flames shooting from their microphones, and to my knowledge they never went so far as to act as superheroes for their most dedicated fans, explode zombie heads with glowing guitar picks, or use samurai blades hidden in guitar necks to gut alien motherships. Superhumanly cool and macho, like Clint Eastwood if he Continue reading CAPSULE: WILD ZERO (2000)