Thursday, 24 September 2015

Film Review - 'Wild Zero'

Wild Zero may not quite be the most absurd film I have ever willingly sat through - but, it certainly makes an effort. It could be one of the greatest films you are ever likely to see. Or, just as easily, one of the worst. It really all depends on your tolerance for absurdity.

It's not that Wild Zero makes any attempt to be controversial, or that it's too violent, or even that it's offensive in any way. It's just that the film is one of that strange breed that seems to be deliberately going for that cheesy 'so bad, it's good' sort of feel. It's the sort of film clearly made to be enjoyed with a group of friends - possibly while drunk. It's also incredibly odd.

Technically, Wild Zero is a zombie film - though, it can hardly be called 'horror'. Most zombie films will, at least, make a token effort at making the zombies intimidating - either by having a massive horde of the grotesque things shambling about, or even by mixing it up a bit and having them run. The zombies in Wild Zero, on the other hand, seem much more inclined to simply stand about and occasionally wave their arms in your general direction as you rush by. So, there's not going to be any real tension, here. Though, one thing that will probably become obvious fairly quickly is that there really isn't meant to be.

This is, after all, also a film that features a band of Japanese rockabilly throw-backs who frequently pause the action to comb their, admittedly magnificent, hair. And, who seem to take any opportunity to scream their preferred battle-cry - "Rock 'N' Roll!!!". There's also UFOs, for some reason - and, a man in offensively tight shorts. And, the frequent sight of exploding zombie heads.

It's not a film that you need to take seriously, is the point.

Japanese rock and roll enthusiast, Ace, is a huge fan of Guitar Wolf (a real J-Rock band, essentially playing themselves). Staying back after a concert, he hopes that he might have the chance to meet them as they leave the venue. However, Ace inadvertently saves their lives when he finds himself caught in the middle of a shoot-out between the band and their current manager - a man (in extremely tight shorts) who believes that rock and roll is dead. Guitar Wolf (the band's leader - the other members being Bass Wolf and Drum Wolf) thanks Ace for his help, and declares him to be the bands blood brother, united by their mutual love of rock and roll. He also gives Ace a whistle that he can use to call the band, if he ever needs help. Ace and the band then go their separate ways.

And, then... zombies! And, something about UFOs, for some reason. And, the return of Guitar Wolf's former manager (and, his offensively tight shorts), who may turn out to be a much greater danger to the band than any other. Our heroes are forced to unite against this combined threat. But, can the power of rock and roll help overcome the hordes of the undead? Well, you'll just have to watch to find out!

For the brave viewer, the DVD release of Wild Zero comes complete with the inclusion of the Wild Zero drinking game – a clear sign that they seem to understand their target audience. Players' will be expected to take a drink every time a zombie's head (or, anything else, really) explodes, any time someone pauses to comb their hair, or anytime someone shouts "ROCK 'N' ROLL!!!". By all accounts, you'll be completely wasted well before the end credits roll.

Wild Zero clearly isn't a film for everyone. It's a film that clearly revels in its own absurdity, and expects its audience to be willing to do the same. There's cheap make-up, lousy special effects, and questionable acting on hand in just about every scene - but, there's also the endearing enthusiasm you need for a strange little film like this one to achieve that elusive 'cult' status. It may not, necessarily, be a good film - but, it is definitely a fun one.

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