Japan has a reputation for weirdness. It's to the point where you can say anything about the place and someone will believe you.
Do you know the country has no concept of bread? It's true, probably. They also make reservations for KFC for Christmas and have a standing order to arrest raccoons on sight.
Of course, the fact one of those things is true isn't really any weirder than convincing a nation of children that tiny pixies crawl under your pillow at night in search of dead teeth. But it might still help to explain the existence of Wild Zero in 2000.
Would-be rocker Masashi Endo only wishes he were as cool as his hero Guitar Wolf. When a meteor strike unleashes a horde of zombies on the city of Asahi, he gets the chance — and learns the true meaning of rock and roll.
If I can make a generalization about Japanese movies — and I've seen like 10 of them now, so my Ph.D. is in the mail — they tend to run somewhat goofy and surreal. Or maybe that's common to all cult movies regardless of country. Wow, I'm not getting paid enough for this. In any event, Wild Zero only confirms my bias.
Such as when we're introduced to the antagonist. A man who spends the entire movie wearing lace-up booty shorts. Or when director/co-writer Tetsuro Takeuchi throws in quick impressionistic touches, such as when a would-be robber gets so nervous he combusts. (Don't worry, he's fine.)
The funniest weird touch of all, however, is Endo's repeated visions of a spectral Guitar Wolf, who appears to remind Endo that rock and roll has no boundaries, nations, or genders, so of course it is OK to get down with the chick you just found out is a dude. It's a hilarious moment, but unexpectedly inspirational, too. Especially because it comes in the middle of a gory zombie flick where people practically spend more time combing their immaculate hair than shooting monsters.
It takes some time for Wild Zero to pick up its chaotic energy, though. The significance of the early scenes is fairly confusing. Several new characters are introduced with no clear ties to the main plot except possibly to serve as the filling that the zombies will place between their lettuce and bread.
But this is all forgotten as soon as stuff gets real. As Endo's new-found faith is shattered, he goes Uncle Nutsy on an undead crowd. Meanwhile, Guitar Wolf and his crew, who are pretty much like if the guys from The Matrix founded the world's most kickin' garage band, ride out to save him.
There on out, Wild Zero is gold.