Wild Zero Review
After attending a concert by Guitar Wolf, the band he idolises, wannabe rock 'n' roller Ace inadvertently rescues the band when they find themselves held at gunpoint by the venue's manager. In return for the favour, Guitar Wolf make Ace their blood brother and give him a special whistle with instructions to blow it if he ever needs their help.
Help is needed sooner than might reasonably have been expected when shortly after meeting Tobio, the possible girl of his dreams, Ace finds himself surrounded by the living dead who have risen from the grave to feast on the living in time honoured fashion. Soon Guitar Wolf arrive on the scene and they, Ace, Tobio and a local arms dealer called Yamazaki join forces to battle the zombie army and the invading fleet of UFOs that raised it.
On paper it works. Take trashy Japanese post-punk band Guitar Wolf. Add veteran music-video director Tetsuro Takeuchi. Supply a video camera and crew. Leave to simmer in Thailand for three weeks. Add a pinch of romance. Add liberal amounts of rock 'n' roll. Bring to boil, adding a liberal dose of zombies and exploding heads. Spice up the mix with a few UFOs. On paper it works. Unfortunately, in reality, it just doesn't quite hit the spot.
It should have been a non-stop adrenaline rush of violence, romance, loud music, guns and zombies, but despite the occasional flash of brilliance, Wild Zero is bogged down with uneven pacing, choppy editing and really bad acting. Given the fact that all parties involved clearly intended to produce nothing more than a trashy B-movie, criticising the film for being sloppily made might seem churlish if it wasn't for the fact that the film falls far short of it's true aim of providing non-stop, outrageous, brain-dead entertainment. Zombies and exploding heads are good things to have in a movie, but unfortunately they're not quite enough to sustain Wild Zero's 98 minutes by themselves.
The ArtsMagic release of Wild Zero is a dual-layer DVD-9 encoded for Region 2 only.
The disc features a pristine, reference quality transfer. That's one sentence that will never be used to describe the ArtsMagic release of Wild Zero. Flesh tones are decidedly off, with the supposedly normal actors looking only slightly less ill than the zombies. Black levels aren't. The picture is not so much soft as downright fuzzy. A silver disc went into the machine, but what comes out looks remarkably like VHS, only anamorphic.
It would be wrong for punk music to sound clear and defined, and there are certainly no worries on that score, because the music, dialogue and everything else sound as fuzzy as the transfer looks.
Wild Zero is supplied with a minimal selection of extras. The Bio/Filmographies section contains text-based information on director Tetsuro Takeuchi, Guitar Wolf, Makoto Inamiya, Masashi Endô and Shirô Namiki.
Two trailers for Wild Zero are also included. The original theatrical trailer is a minute-and-a-half long and makes the film look as exciting as it wishes it were. The second trailer, presumably produced by ArtsMagic themselves, runs for an excessive eight-and-a-half minutes and is as uneven as the main feature itself.
The somewhat pointless Stills section contains ten images from the film rather than more worthwhile production stills or artwork.
Within Preview are trailers for three other titles released by ArtsMagic under their Eastern Cult Cinema banner, Evil Dead Trap, Junk and Uzumaki.
Finally, the misleadingly titled Artwork section contains cover images for various other ArtsMagic releases.
A Japanese rock 'n' roll zombie movie sounds great on paper, but Wild Zero falls far short of expectations. Anybody nostalgic for the experience of renting straight-to-video horror in the Eighties may want to give ArtsMagic's release of Wild Zero a look, anybody else would be advised to wait for the forthcoming US release which can only be of higher quality. ArtsMagic would be advised to consider reducing their output rate and upping the quality of their releases before they become synonymous with sub-standard DVD releases in the same way that Tartan already are.