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.