• Gareth Crook

Zardoz (1974) - 6/10

This is my first time watching the cult film Zardoz. I stopped short at cult classic, as I’m not sure that’s appropriate here. This is more a screening to determine whether it falls into the so bad it’s good category. Starring Sean Connery as Zed. You’ve probably seen stills of James Bond in his bizarre red pants and thigh high boots, even if you’ve not seen the film. The year is 2293. The chosen ones worship Zardoz, a giant floating stone head that prophecies that “The gun is good, the penis is evil”. If that’s not setting the tone I don’t know what is. Zed (Connery) is one of the chosen ones, urged to go forth and kill. Before inexplicably waking up in a pile of sand inside the head surrounded by naked people wrapped in cling film, where he mistakenly shoots god, Zardoz… or Arthur as we later find out. The head comes to land and Zed finds himself on a farm in a futuristic hippy commune of eternal beings. This is the 70s idea of what the future holds of course, which is holograms, hydroponic domes, mirrors, Siri rings and scant clothing. I mean thats not a terrible vision of utopia is it. Unfortunately for Zed, it’s not an existence he’s used to. Zed is an exterminator and doesn’t fit in this place, the Vortex, where he meets Consuella (Charlotte Rampling). She’s not a fan and wants to kill ‘it’, but May (Sara Kestelman) wants to study Zed and find out how he got there. There’s a lot of visual effects (some more effective than others) and kitsch set design. It’s bonkers, but not as bad as I was fearing. Zed is the savage to be poked, prodded, caged and made to work by Friend (John Alderton) who’s anything but. He is handy for a spot of exposition though. Helping Zed understand the society he’s crash landed in. Including the Apathetics, cursed beings that are, well completing apathetic to the point of motionless. A pitied underclass which highlights what Zardoz is really about. Class structure and power. The elite consider themselves perfect, a powerful group entity, above base needs like sleep and sexual desire. Something illustrated in a rather awkward scene that borders on very soft porn, but is bloody funny. Zed isn’t as primitive as thought though and is destined to upset the balance. It’s totally batshit, but there’s some nice The Prisoner type vibes as the philosophical quackery delves into themes of jealousy and revenge and Zed brings about a new order. It is a bit rubbish and it’s aged badly. It’s far too long, especially towards the end where it starts to feel needlessly bloated. Like they shot too much and didn’t know where to cut. The costume design is ridiculous and it’s easy to mock, but… I rather enjoyed it. I’m not sure it falls into the so bad it’s good pile but it’s fun to watch, there’s some nice ideas and never mind the red pants, when else are you likely to see Sean Connery in a bridal gown‽


6/10