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THREE !!!
TWO !!!
ONE !!!
ZERO !!!
WILD ZERO !!!

Wild Zero (2000) is a hokey Japanese zombie movie directed by Tetsuro Takeuchi and starring the unbearably cool rock band Guitar Wolf. The story, in a nutshell, is this: A meteorite has landed in a quiet Japanese town, coinciding with increased sightings of UFOs. All of the town's inhabitants have been turned into shambling, flesh-eating zombies. Guitar Wolf are heading to town on the way to a show, but at the same time a variety of other characters are passing through town for various reasons, and they all get caught up in the zombie epidemic. The result is 99 minutes of hammy acting, laughable effects, audacious plot twists, inexplicable editing and ROCK AND ROLL!!!

Guitar Wolf (the band) consists of Guitar Wolf (the frontman), Bass Wolf and Drum Wolf. They live by the principles of rock'n'roll, presenting a kind of punk rockabilly image involving slicked-back hair, shades, leather jackets, motorcycles and guns. Guitar Wolf says little, and what he does say (or rather, scream) is punctuated by chugging cans of beer, guitar licks, Elvis poses, and shots from his Colt .45. Most of the time though, he just stands there, expressionless, exuding cool, letting his wraparound shades and contemptuous cheekbones do 90% of the acting while other people get excited.

Before the movie gets to the zombies (and the running and the biting), we see Guitar Wolf perform on stage. ("There's a wallet on my ass with a Rock'n'Roll license!") In the crowd is Ace, a young rocker who aspires to be like his heroes. After the gig, Guitar Wolf get into an altercation with the club's manager, a gloriously warped character called The Captain, who has a penchant for Mersey Beat wigs and tiny hotpants. Guns are pulled, but at that moment Ace bursts into the office, providing a momentary distraction allowing Guitar Wolf to get the upper hand.

By way of thanks, Guitar Wolf makes Ace his Rock'n'Roll blood brother, and gives him a whistle to blow if he gets into danger. The Captain, meanwhile, vows revenge on Guitar Wolf. This whole amazingly lurid and frenetic sequence is basically a prologue introducing the key characters of the movie.

The real action begins the next day, as Ace and Guitar Wolf seperately head into the neighbouring town (Asahi-Cho) where the meteorite landed. Also heading into town are a mysterious foreign girl (Tobio), a trio of slackers (Masao, Hanako and Toshi) who have come to see the meteorite, and some Yakuza gangsters who have come to do a deal with a cold-hearted female arms dealer. At some point, most of the characters' paths cross, and the survivors team up to take on the zombies.

Early on Ace meets Tobio while inadvertantly thwarting a robbery at a 'gasoline stand' (gas station), adding a romantic twist to the movie. After they become seperated, Ace must find the courage to confront the zombies and save her. Meanwhile, that scene-stealing, chuckling deviant The Captain arrives for a showdown with Guitar Wolf. To say anything more about any of the events in the movie would be to spoil the surprise.

Wild Zero is an exuberant, frequently hilarious, moderately gory (I lost count of the exploding heads) and wholly likeable movie. It also benefits from a suitably rocking soundtrack featuring Guitar Wolf (obviously) along with several songs by The Oblivians, Dick Dale and The Phantom Surfers, Charlie And The Hot Wheels, The Vikings, Bikini Kill and the excellently named Pleasure Fuckers. I would urge any vaguely open-minded film fan to check it out.

Apart from anything else, you never know when you might be attacked by zombies, as Toshi explains (when discussing zombie movies): "If I'd have known this was going to happen I would have watched it..."

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