Awfully Good: Zardoz
Director: John Boorman
Stars: Sean Connery, Charlotte Rampling, John Aldteron
Is there a plot?
In 2293, a post-apocalyptic Earth has evolved in to two distinct parts: the enlightened elite known as “Eternals,” who live in a paradise of their own creation called the Vortex, and groups of savage slaves called “Brutals” and "Exterminators," who worship the false deity Zardoz. The Eternals are kept immortal by The Tabernacle and have long grown bored of their mundane perfect society, opting to use Zardoz to get the slaves to do their dirty work, like feeding another race of diseased humans called Apathetics. But when an Exterminator manages to slip in to the Vortex, his barbaric ways and functioning genitals cause a butterfly effect that could destroy their entire civilization.
And that's just like the first 10 minutes.
What's the damage?
ZARDOZ is one of the most pretentious, self-indulgent, bullshit movies ever made. Right off the bat, two things are painfully apparent: 1) Clearly everyone involved with this production was high at pretty much every stage of its creation, and 2) Sean Connery obviously owed someone money. (Actually, the aging star apparently had troubling finding work after leaving Bond behind and this was the best he could do…which is horribly depressing.) I usually take notes when reviewing a film and when I was done with ZARDOZ my gibberish stream-of-consciousness made absolutely no sense, mainly because this movie makes no sense. I thought about posting my notes here verbatim, but I was afraid people might think Charlie Sheen was guest writing this week's column.
Easiest "That's what she said" ever!
After the surprise success of DELIVERANCE, director John Boorman was given carte blanche to do what he wanted and ZARDOZ is what he came up with. If you were at all confused about what kind of movie this would be, the opening scenes should clue you in fairly quickly. We’re first greeted by Zardoz himself—a foppish chubby guy reciting a meta- soliloquy that reeks of bad community theater. (“I present now my story, full of mystery and intrigue - rich in irony, and most satirical. It is set deep in a possible future!”) Then the opening credits begin, but you're not safe yet! A bunch of guys wearing masks ride horses underneath a giant floating spaceship head, also Zardoz, before the head begins bellowing about the evils of penises and vomits firearms out of its mouth. Slowly a man turns around (Connery with hair extensions!) and fires a gun directly at the camera. Boom!...ZARDOZ!
When you least expect it…Zellweger Face!
ZARDOZ is equally ambitious and stupid; a film made by hippies wanting to create "art" with a message, but not knowing exactly what that message is. Boorman tries so hard to be trippy and deep, with references to everyone from Nietzsche to L. Frank Baum (wiZARDofOZ…get it?), but instead presents a psychedelic, incoherent mess that's such a bizarre trainwreck it's hard to look away. Here are some of the many topics ZARDOZ tries to educate you on: religion, sexuality, socialism, life, death, spiritual rebirth, the evil of guns, negative thoughts, interdimensional travel and cleavage—just to name a few. The film is also clearly about the death of God, but Connery plays a Christ figure who's brought into a future society he doesn’t understand, only to become the one person who can save them by gaining control of their reality and leading them all to salvation. So it's pretty much THE MATRIX but with more hallucinogenic drugs and awkward sexual situations.
And you thought Bridezilla was bad.
Because what ZARDOZ boils down to is a film all about penises. Characters are constantly talking about flaccid schlongs, erect members, or the potency of seed. Hell, there's literally a sequence where they show Connery porn and mud wrestling to see if he gets an erection. Mostly these higher beings claim to be studying what it means to be human, except the human they’re examining is Sean Connery—the physical embodiment of Man and Sex. Connery spends the majority of his screen time either walking around bewildered or randomly groping and sleeping with women (some consensual, others not). Though he starts as a slave, his raw manliness, thick mane of chest hair and powerful boners overpowers an entire society and soon he is receiving all of their secrets and power through what can only be described as sex osmosis. It also proves one thing: even when he dresses like a gay S&M pirate, Sean Connery can still score tail in any dimensional plane.
"And thanks to volunteer Jason Adams for letting us trace his genitalia at actual size for the purposes of this demonstration."
Zardoz himself speaks about the evils of the penis.
1) A collection of the film's bizarre sexual parts, including Connery taking an erection test, a group make-out session, and Connery getting so horny he goes blind. (NSFW)
2) Some of Sean Connery's most embarrassing moments, including playing with a jack-in-the-box, groping unconscious women, reenacting a scene from BUBBLE BOY and awkward beach rape.
3) Though it's filled with WTF moments, here are a few of ZARDOZ's strangest, drug-fuelled parts.
You get lots of boobs and Connery in an orange bikini for most of the flick.
Play Along at Home!
Take a shot or drink every time:
- You’re overcome by chest hair
- Connery fondles a girl against her will
- A mirror or reflection is seen
- Someone is legion
- You're confused
Double shot if:
- Connery hates books
Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email and give him an excuse to drink.