Monday, October 18, 2021

coke zero.

A few years back I contributed some words (and pictures) to DEAD FUNNY : THE RISE OF THE ZOM-COM (which is still available by the way).

Celebrating 30 years of the zombie-themed comedy, it re-traced the path that led to Edgar Wright's benchmark 2004 production, Shaun Of The Dead and features overviews of such classics as Return Of The Living Dead, BrainDead, Bio-Zombie, amongst others.


One of the pieces I wrote for it concerns quite possibly THE greatest Jet Rock 'N' Roll film ever made.

So I thought I'd reshare it here as part of the whole 31 Days of Horror thing.

Ladies and gentlemen (and all those in between) I give you.....

Wild Zero (1999).
Dir: Tetsuro Takeuchi.
Cast:  Guitar Wolf, Drum Wolf, Billy Bass Wolf, Masashi Endô ,Makoto Inamiya, Sato Masao, Namiki Shiro, Kwancharu Shitichai, Nakajo Haruka and Morishita Yoshiyuki.

“Love has no borders, nationalities or genders! DO IT!”

The world's greatest Jet Rock 'N' Roll band, the frankly fantastic Guitar Wolf (Guitar Wolf, the late great Billy Bass Wolf and Drum Wolf - basically the holy trinity of Rock 'n' Roll greatness) have just finished playing a gig for the sinister shorted, pudding bowl haired, Karaoke obsessed 'Captain' (Inamiya from Zero Woman Returns) who being a bad man is refusing to pay our hard rockin' heroes on account of them stepping in when he was beating up a drugged lady a few scenes earlier.

Before the situation can escalate into mindless violence tho' (well just yet) the bands number one fan, the high haired Ace (Transformers: Beast Wars Metals Endô), stumbles into the office to ask for their autographs which gives the band time to pull out their guns and shoot their way out of the place.

As a thank you, the band's enigmatic front man, also named Guitar Wolf first becomes blood brothers with Ace before giving him a mysterious whistle which will alert the band if ever he needs their help.

And to think all I got last time I saw them live was a push to the ground when I tried to get my live DVD signed.

Rock 'N' Roll eh?


And with that (and a loud howl obviously) the band disappear into the night.

The next day as Ace is heading to the next gig on his trusty moped minding his own business when he realizes that he needs petrol. Being a do-gooding reluctant hero type it'll come as no surprise that when he's queuing to pay (and buy a Snickers for the journey he manages to inadvertently foil a robbery but also save the sweetly naive (obvious) runaway Tobio (the pixie-like Shitichai) in the process.

Obviously it's love at first sight.

Or it would be if Ace wasn't late to see his heroes.

So blowing Tobio a kiss Ace heads off to the concert leaving his true love to hitch-hike home.

Or to wherever she's heading.

Which is straight into our hearts obviously.

Across town the Captain's men are out looking for Guitar Wolf but instead of finding of musical maestros they come across (not in that way) a gaggle of recently reanimated corpses out for flesh.

It appears that the dead are rising, intent on devouring the living and no-one is safe as Ace himself finds out when he runs across a group of zombies feasting on an ice cream man in the middle of the road.

Realizing that Tobio is defenseless and alone Ace hurriedly heads back to the gas station to save her.

Meanwhile the Captain is busying himself auditioning wee girls in Sailor Moon outfits to sing at his Karaoke bar.

Which is fair enough I guess.


If at this point you, like me were wondering what happened to the would-be robbers from earlier then fear not as we're soon back with them as they too fight against zombies, group politics and their own feelings for each other before teaming up with a tattooed, Burberry clad hitwoman (don't ask) in a Humvee and trying to find a safe place to hold out till help arrives.

Which after some broomhandle vs zombie action is what Tobio and Ace find themselves doing, hiding as they are in a deserted basement.

Overwhelmed by his feelings Ace opens his heart to Tobio and explains that  finding his one true love under such bizarre and deadly circumstances has strengthened his belief in faith and humanity before swearing his undying devotion to Her.

Overcome by such and outpouring of love Tobio tells Ace that she loves him too but has a secret she must share.

It appears that Tobio is, in fact, a fella.

Given his already slightly stressed demeanor, this news sends Ace over the edge and he storms of in a confused huff and boards himself up in a cupboard.

It's always darkest 'fore the dawn and the light that brightens this situation is a ghostly appearance from Guitar Wolf himself.

Explaining the situation to his hero Ace is soon brought to his senses by possibly the greatest speech regarding love and tolerance ever committed to celluloid as Guitar Wolf announces:


Picking up a handy crow bar Ace screams out for Tobio as he heads off to save her.


Guitar Wolf meanwhile have problems of their own to deal with as the Captain angry at his minions incompetence has decided to take matters into his own hands and whilst using various members of the undead as (in)human shields is currently firing a grenade launcher at random objects in the hope of finding the band and destroying them.

I bet Bucks Fizz never had this trouble post Eurovision.

As the captain causes more and more property damage and loss of bladder control he hones in on an abandoned apartment block unleashing his entire explosive load into the building in one last attempt to crush the band.

Imagine his (and our) surprise then as out of the burning chaos leaps an unharmed Guitar Wolf , dropping to his knees and re-tuning his guitar as he lands before letting rip with some killer riffs.


So the stage is set for a climactic battle between the forces of rock and rubbish fashions as the pair go head to head in a fight to the death.

As guns give way to fists our hero is fairly surprised when the Captain mutates into a bald super-powered mutant with laser eyes but just as Guitar Wolf looks about to be beaten Billy and Drum Wolf turn up with a handy bazooka, blowing the Captain to (ickle biddy) bits.


Well it would be if suddenly from nowhere a fleet of UFO's didn't appear intent on destroying/enslaving the Earth......

A triumph of style, wit and substance over budgetary constraints, director Tetsuro Takeuchi's ode to true love, rock 'n' roll and high, high hair is quite possibly the greatest ever made.


And whilst the audience may be drawn to the promise of zombies, aliens and rock 'n' roll the films true heart belongs to Ace and Tobio and the finest onscreen love story since Tony and Maria in West Side Story.

Tho' if I'm honest The Jets could probably give Guitar Wolf a run for their money if cornered.

And what of Japan's self proclaimed 'Greatest Jet Rock 'N' Roll Band'?

Well they're the leather clad, self deprecating glue that holds the whole thing together, part Elvis, part superhero team and all rock gods it's rare to see a bands energy and excitement actually captured on film so perfectly, artfully blurring the fine line 'tween reality and rocktastic fiction.


Referencing everything from Night Of The Living Dead to Mars Attacks! via the very best rollicking Rockabilly-fueled tunes Wild Zero is as unique as Ace's quiff is high and the world is a better place for it.

Complete and utter fun-filled genius and I love it.

And so should you.

ROCK 'N' ROLL!!!!!!

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