September 5, 2004 8:01 AM   Subscribe

Zardoz speaks to you. A fifteen-page essay on John Boorman's, um, rather unusual film. Other analyses are here and here: Imagine a science-fiction film where the entire special effects budget was spent on cocaine. Not just for the director and script-writer, but also enough cocaine to make the producer and studio heads COMPLETELY UNAWARE of the film's content. That's the only way this film could possibly have been made. (reviews contain major spoilers)
posted by Prospero (27 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best line from Zardoz:
The gun is good. The penis is evil. The penis shoots seeds, and makes new life, and poisons the earth with a plague of men, as once it was. But the gun shoots death, and purifies the earth of the filth of brutals. Go forth and kill!
And no, it doesn't make any more sense in context.
posted by Nelson at 8:12 AM on September 5, 2004

I thought I understood the first half of the movie reasonably well even if it was a hodge-podge of hippie new age philosophy. Something about the need for Exterminators to trim the populace so it doesn't overproduce.

There's definitely a point where they just gave up on that too. Particularly when you find out the meaning of Zardoz. So lame.

Still worth it to see Connery sliding down that large mud hill.
posted by destro at 8:33 AM on September 5, 2004

The Onion AV Club had a little bit on the director's commentary (scroll halfway down).
Where to begin? How about "It's a kind of allegory for the notion of the haves and the have-nots, taken to a kind of extreme degree." Or "So here's this kind of Noah's Ark." Or "This sweat-licking scene was like something from Greek mythology... Wasn't it the goddess Isis?" Eventually, while laying out the film's complex philosophical underpinning, Boorman says, "You could say there were too many ideas in this picture."
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:41 AM on September 5, 2004

I liked it.
posted by ashbury at 8:47 AM on September 5, 2004

While this is all going on, a Red Diaper Guy with a long ponytail walks into the frame with his back to us. He raises a revolver, and cocks it. Then he turns around, and sadly reveals himself to be Sean Connery.

Unfortunately Albert Walker's prose is a little lacking...

We next find Topless Chick, naturally topless again, standing with Z-Dawg among some plants inside a plastic baggie.

This reads more like a video game walkthrough written by an adolescent who's buzzed on too much Mountain Dew.
posted by wfrgms at 8:55 AM on September 5, 2004

Silly me. I always thought it was goofing on "The Wizard of Oz".
posted by RavinDave at 8:58 AM on September 5, 2004

Then we cut to a naked May explaining Marxist philosophy while mathematical formulae are projected on her breasts. And you know, sometimes you type a sentence that makes you stop and ask yourself, did I really just type that?

Thanks for this, the 15-page review is pretty funny. I have a deep and irrational affection for Zardoz, ever since I saw it on TV late at night as a young child...when it seemed to make a lot more sense than it does now.
posted by biscotti at 9:40 AM on September 5, 2004

I hate Sean Connery so finding this movie when I was younger was fantastic. It is awful beyond belief. A friend and I have agreed that if we ever see/meet Connery, we're gonna tease the hell out of him about the fillm.

While this is all going on, a Red Diaper Guy... Then he turns around, and sadly reveals himself to be Sean Connery.

At the video store I used to work at we had a color publicity still of Sean in his "costume". We hung it next to the cash register and put word balloons with ridiculous things in his mouth ("Are you man enough to make this work?"). One Scottish customer we had used to get very upset with us and asked us to take down the picture as it was an embarassment to Connery. When we refused, he started offering us money. He gave up at $100. The picture is one of the things I rescued from the shop when it closed 8 years ago.

We recently tried to watch the DVD with the audio commentary. It was unbearable and Boorman's explanation for the film made it even more ludicrous.
posted by dobbs at 9:45 AM on September 5, 2004

A friend and I have agreed that if we ever see/meet Connery, we're gonna tease the hell out of him about the fillm.

Isn't fame a wonderful thing?
posted by digaman at 9:54 AM on September 5, 2004

Silly me. I always thought it was goofing on "The Wizard of Oz".

As opposed to what?

(You have seen the movie, right?)
posted by soyjoy at 9:55 AM on September 5, 2004

Many years ago I spent an afternoon drinking with this guy. He worked as an extra on Zardoz, playing one the guys in the old folk's home.

He said Connery was a real gent.

My drinking buddy also appears, as himself, in the documentary The London Nobody Knows, which is worth watching if you can.

I always think of this old guy whenever either movie is on tv .
posted by the cuban at 11:10 AM on September 5, 2004

the cuban, those are superb links. Next time I find myself in Oxford on a friday, I'll try and spot him.
posted by chrid at 12:16 PM on September 5, 2004

Ha! Thanks for this! One of the bars I frequent has a habit of playing really, really bad movies with the sound off. I've seen portions of this a couple of times and I've been dying to figure out what it is. I've considered taking it to askme, but I was unsure of how to phrase the question.

There's this movie about guns and Sean Connery wearing red diapers and a flying tiki-head. Oh, and there's this half naked chick and something about math. Anybody?
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:51 PM on September 5, 2004

Nelson mentions what is indeed the best of many good lines in Zardoz in the first post, but what he leaves out is that immediately afterward, the giant flying stone head that intones those words actually starts to puke rifles and revolvers and shotgun shells by the hundreds. That scene alone (which takes place in the first three minutes) pushes the movie out of the category of "so bad it's good" movies, and into that unnameable territory inhabited by films like Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle.
posted by Prospero at 1:16 PM on September 5, 2004

Know a woman who thinks Sean Connery is hot? Rent this baby for her.

That review made my brain hurt and the realization that it was a summarization scares me half to death. At least when you're watching it on video, you can turn it off when your skull begins to expand but hasn't yet exploded.
posted by tommasz at 2:06 PM on September 5, 2004

chrid - I last saw Lord Mustard about 5 years ago in Edinburgh. He looked pretty frail, so good luck in finding him...

If you do, buy him a pint - he a true 'gentleman of the road' and is full of fascinating tales.
posted by the cuban at 3:40 PM on September 5, 2004

I have nothing but good to say of Zardoz. He made us what we are.
posted by troutfishing at 8:55 PM on September 5, 2004

*hangs head in embarrassment*

There are TWO copies of this in my house at the moment - my partner's a fan of the diapered connery movie. One copy is just waiting for an unsuspecting victim. Every time a family member's birthday comes up, he tries to convince me to give them Zardoz. I always explain to him, horrified at the idea of inflicting it upon others, that they won't appreciate it and so it's a waste on them... (but I think he's catching on to my rhetoric)

What is the fascination with this cringe-inducing film?
posted by Ms Snit at 10:34 PM on September 5, 2004

horrified at the idea of inflicting it upon others

Trixie's my drug of choice for this purpose. Dreamcatcher is a close second.
posted by dobbs at 11:40 PM on September 5, 2004

For more of "Sean Connery in a stupid film" goodness, here's a short list for you to watch: Highlander II and Outland.

Let me see if I remember the best quote from Outland...

"I'd like it soon, or I might just kick your nasty ass all over this room." (thanks IMDB)

Imagine it in a Sean Connery "I'm annoyed, drunk on Suntory brand liquor and so very Scottish. Oh, and woman, you get hysterical and IRL I'll slap your crazy ass!" accent.
posted by shepd at 3:16 AM on September 6, 2004

Ms Snit, ever rubbernecked?

I'm sure you have.

There's your answer.

Sorry it isn't all that satisfying after all.
posted by shepd at 3:17 AM on September 6, 2004

(reviews contain major spoilers)

how do you spoil Zardoz? Surely the film spoilt itself...
posted by hnnrs at 5:19 AM on September 6, 2004

/me crosses fingers, hopes to find .torrent for this movie...
posted by alumshubby at 7:55 AM on September 6, 2004

The Ruthless Review link really nails it:

Just when you think that you're about to fall asleep, the director shows you something so absurd that you wake back up. And you think to yourself, 'there's no way he can top this. There's just no way.' And yet, he always does.

This incredible movie maintains a really high level of craptacular awfulness all the way to the very end where (SPOILERS!) Sean and the Babe hold hands, and turn old and crumble into dust.
posted by straight at 8:35 AM on September 6, 2004

alumshubby: the DVD can easily be had for $5.99, at Best Buy and the like. Believe it or not, the digital remaster is absolutely pristine--both its audio and video. It must have been a true labor of love.
posted by Prospero at 11:40 AM on September 6, 2004

On a trip to Florida many years ago, one of my friends bought a small purple cartoon dinosaur in a T-shirt named "Figment". That stuffed animal has been given as a gift many times over, left in mailboxes, hidden in homes during visits, sometimes disappearing for months only to pop up in the unlikeliest of places. It's a gift that keeps getting given, because the damned thing's just too bizarre to keep and needs to be passed around.

I think I've found a new Figment. Thanks, Prospero.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 5:52 AM on September 7, 2004

"This incredible movie maintains a really high level of craptacular awfulness all the way to the very end" - very nicely put.

Zardoz is a must see. For better or worse.

Has anybody mentioned Connery's thigh-high red plastic go-go boots that go with his diapers ?

Or the 60's inspired "drug trip" footage ?

It's soooooo delicious.
posted by troutfishing at 8:16 PM on September 7, 2004

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