Both budgets and box-office prospects for Japanese indie films have been declining for years. As the former approaches the zero mark, so do recognizable actors and other standard indicators of quality. Audiences, smelling amateurism, stay away.

Flying in the face of this dismal trend is Shinichiro Ueda's brilliant zombie comedy "One Cut of the Dead," made for nearly nothing with a no-name cast. An international festival favorite, it has stirred up the sort of pre-release buzz that films with 10 times its ¥2.5 million budget can't buy.

Though he has directed prize-winning shorts, as well as a segment of the 2015 omnibus feature "Cat Quarters," Ueda is a relative newcomer, as is the film's cast, who are all students at Enbu Seminar, a Tokyo film school. "One Cut of the Dead" is a workshop film made under the school's Cinema Project banner.