Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Only once in a lifetime does a film like this come along to take you by your nerve-endings and frazzle you into a mess of spasms. Yes, ZARDOZ is a moom pitcher that you will never be able to rip out of your cranium, one that will stick around with you forever just like every other beyond-feeling flick from PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE to DEADBEAT AT DAWN. Something you ain't gonna be able to shake from your psyche until you're about as old and senile as the aged denizens of The Vortex living in abject mayhem flipping out while twenties-vintage dance music is constantly played. Yeah it's one of "those" films, but it's one that will separate the high energy true-believers from the IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE patsies, that's for sure! The feel bad, in a good way, movie a soul like I has been waiting for.

Imagine a meeting of minds between Edgar Rice and William Burroughs and you might get something akin to ZARDOZ. Or howz'bout this...ZARDOZ is a bold move taking the oft-tread Sci-Fi "dystopian utopia" saga and injecting some much-needed life and vision into its sorry carcass! Yeah, that's pretty much what ZARDOZ is, a futuristic thriller that is fortunately void of all of the modern day hangups and restraint that have turned me off to contemporary television and cinema faster than you can say HBO. And it's done with a peak perfection to the point where you actually feel like protagonist Zed (recently retired from James Bond actor Sean Connery) trying to get to the bottom of the mystery regarding the entire meaning and mystery that makes up the god Zardoz, an early-Greek-styled flying stone head that pukes weapons from its gaping mouth for his elect followers to murder reproducing "Brutals" with while his worshipers fill Zardoz with grain that is being planted for reasons that seem quite alien to these barbarians with flashy seventies-styled long hair.

Zed, for reasons that will become painstakingly clear in upcoming flashbacks scattered throughout the film, stows away on the floating head and is transported to the world of The Eternals, an immortal people who live in a society that reminds me of a cross between 14th century England and the hippy-dippiest Southern Californian commune you could find. Thus begins the real mystery regarding this seemingly primitive invader who has trespassed upon the sanctity of an advanced people with neo-psychic powers who have been living on for three centuries and, if anything, long and crave for a nice and painful death if only to break up the stultifying boredom.

The intruder isn't actually taken to kindly by everyone, with the Vortexans not sure of what to do with this decaying and armed primitive. May (played by Sarah Kestleman) wants to study him for scientific purposes which would seem sensible since he is the first peon from the outside world anyone has seen in over three centuries. However Consuela (Charlotte Rampling, an actress who worked wonders in these mid-seventies noir-ish dramas) would like Zed terminated immediately, perhaps after he demonstrates the process of sexual arousal by looking at her instead of the female mud wrestlers being projected on a screen. The tension between Zed and the Eternals, coupled with his own quest to discover just what Zardoz is, leads to a bubbling under intensity that pretty much underlies the entire film adding even more energy (remember that word?)  to a flick that's already packed to the gills with a whole load of mutated Science Fiction ideas and twists I never saw on CAPTAIN VIDEO, that's for sure! And hey, I'm not even talking about the mind-expanding psychedelic interludes with squiggly sperm-like protozoa darting about or the scene where Zed is being crash-coursed in the sciences and arts with text and classical paintings being flashed upon naked torsos!

I won't give any more away, but you should be more'n aptly pleased by the way ZARDOZ progresses with various plot twitches and switches that might take at least four viewings to fully comprehend. But one should be enough for it to give you the full impact. Let me just say that, without ruining things, the entire story ends in a huge violent cataclysmic bang that will undoubtedly leave you stunned, which in turn is followed by perhaps the most extremely somber and strangely moving ending in a film that I've ever seen in my life. Let me tell you that the final two or so minutes of this film had such a strange effect on me, as if it were ripped straight from one of my most feverish, Ny Quil-induced dreams to the point where it seemed as if director John Boorman actually plagiarized  my mind, that's how powerful even for a jaded fanabla such as I it is! (Oddly enough, having been vaguely tipped off to the ending yet vastly unsure of the situations surrounding it I did, prior to viewing ZARDOZ, conjure up a vivid dream where I viewed what I perceived the ending to be, and although what I dreamed was most definitely not in the film the same sad, depressing emotions that I experienced later were already evident in the hidden reaches of my cranium.) A fantastic's too bad it tanked like it did because it really deserves an even larger cult following than the one I assume it has these days.

Stills from the strangely moving closing of ZARDOZ

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Imagine starting to watch that movie 20 minutes into it AND viewing it in a crowded bar with the sound off and no close-captioning. Happened to me.