Wild Zero (1999)

Ultimately, this one felt unsatisfactory.

Perhaps that’s because it never quite delivered the film it was supposed to be:  Japan’s loudest Rock band squares off against aliens and zombies, with lots of splatting zombie heads and loud music?  Well, that was all there, but…

It’s hard to say just what went awry.  I find myself comparing it to the Spierig Brothers’   Undead – and one reviewer compared it to Six String Samurai – but it fails to measure up to either of these absurd and unexpected films.  It just doesn’t seem…wacky enough.

Consider, for example, how the members of the band Guitar Wolf -and particularly, their lead singer, Guitar Wolf – are presented as the quintessence of cool.  We constantly see them strike entirely knowing cool poses – as if they are well aware that cool is just a pose, all on the surface, utterly meaningless.  One running theme is that their wannabe hanger-on, Ace, has THE WRONG COMB!  Uncool.  And of course, at the end, after he has already become cool, in a rite of passage, they give him a cool comb.

This existential emptiness of cool is probably the film’s strongest point.  And yet…it remains in the background, with the band portrayed as superhuman.  Or at least non-human.  They needed to play it either more broadly, and exaggerate the shallowness of their poses – or take it far more seriously to make the absurdity even sharper.

One might also note the alien saucer effects as yet another failure – not because they are shiny cheap (which one would tend to excuse in such a goofy film) but because the ships look more like a swarm of flies than anything else and have no real feeling of mass or solidity.

For all the frenetic action, particularly in the film’s climax, it takes forever to get moving – and it remains slow for much of its running time.

And, ultimately, they made a mistake when they got up on their soapbox and started to preach – particularly when their Gospel is as shallow and simplistic as their cool:  “Rock and Roll knows no boundaries!”

Perhaps the best part is the endlessly feuding couple, who seek each other out in the end and fall into each others arms – after they’ve become zombies.  Ahh.  True love.

One suspects, however, that the “drinking game” included on the DVD is potentially lethal, as it appears to call for more than sixty drinks.

And I doubt that anyone playing it will still be conscious by the time the first zombies arrive at the 20-minute mark.



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