They Shoot Penises, Don’t They?

What follows is the barely coherent review of the 1974 film Zardoz, starring Sean Connery.

Barely coherent, because the simple act of watching this movie has warped my mind so far beyond anything since The Garden (which I just found out stars Tilda Swinton – I was that traumatized), that I was practically drooling by the end of it, and not because of the gratuitous boob shots. But more to the point,  the impact this movie has had on me must be shared with the world wide web.

I’d been wanting to see this movie for a few months now, ever since finding this picture on the internet. Take a moment to feast on the glory that is this picture. I don’t even know where to begin.

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Feast your eyes on the thigh high boot/red diaper combination, not to mention the suspenders which double as ammo belts. Take a moment to admire the braid, the post-Bond receding hairline and the epic mustache. What really intrigues me about this picture is that Sean Connery actually autographed it. If it were me, I’d be signing it ‘Burt Reynolds’.

Despite my desire to see this movie, I put the plans on the back burner, hoping for perhaps one day Hulu.com to carry it for streaming. This never happened.

It wasn’t until a good friend came over one day and said "I HAS A NETFLIX, LET ME SHOW U IT!" (No, he wasn’t being silly, this is how he talks. He has a speech impediment, don’t hate!) A quick scan of the science fiction selection produced a ‘watch now’ stream of Zardoz. My excitement was overwhelming, but alas, my friend was content watching a zombie movie instead.

Later that night, though, I reloaded the page and watched the movie from the comfort of my own bedroom. And then I locked myself in the bathroom, and cried under a scalding hot shower for an hour and a half.

I waited about a week, and decided to do it all over again.

The film begins, Rocky Horror Picture Show style, but with a floating head instead of singing lips. This head tells us he is Arthur (king of the Britons! Or so I wished). Arthur is also Zardoz, who, for a title character, ends up not really being all that interesting. His claim to fame is he’s 300 years old, and he wants to die. Arthur, a.k.a. Zardoz, entertains himself by posing as a god.

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I would be emo too if my facial hair were courtesy of Sharpie.

The year is 2293, and inexplicably, there are no flying cars. Just a giant flying stone head which delivers the best lines in the whole movie to a bunch of men in red diapers. "The gun is good. The penis is evil. The penis shoots seeds, and makes new life to poison the earth with a plague of men, as once it was. But the gun shoots death, it purifies the earth of the filth of brutals. Go forth and kill." Then, he starts vomiting rifles.

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At this point, you must abandon all hope, ye who enter. Writer/director (and possible recreational drug user) John Boorman takes Sean Connery on a magical journey through which he enters the mouth of the giant stone head, which is actually a storage facility for shrink-wrapped nude models, kills Arthur (which is apparently a problem, even though this is what Arthur wanted – so much for the right to die) and rides the head all the way to the town of the Eternals, Arthur’s people, who are in need of some serious therapy. Or at least a high dosage of Seroquel.

Eternalville (or maybe we should call it Eternia) is a town where random topless women ride horses, plants grow inside plastic bubbles, and people’s bedrooms look like the back room at a Spencer’s Gifts store. It is a town of good old fashioned family values, where the women are women and the men are also women. And we learn that in 2293 lolspeak has become the official language.

A lesbian couple adopts Sean Connery, probe his mind, and take him to their school’s show and tell day. There, they attempt to get him aroused by showing him videos of gigantic boobies and women wrestling in mud. They notice it has no effect, and assume he’s as impotent as the Eternal men. I still can’t believe the lesbians didn’t think of showing him some clips from brokestraightboys.com. One poncy English fop figures it out, however, and smirks knowingly as Sean Connery licks his hand. (This way you won’t be surprised when Sean ends up wearing the gown at their wedding later in the film.)  Poncy Man takes Sean under his wing, and shows him all the wonders of the carnival sideshow he calls home.

Visually, this movie is everything you would expect from the LSD generation. Kaleidoscope shots, nonsensical flashbacks, clothing exclusively from the misses and petites section, and everyone wearing do-rags look out of the closet of a high school production of The Ten Commandments.

But despite the overwhelming stink of cheese, this movie does one thing very well. It makes this ridiculous, farcical future seem plausible. Yes, even the scene with the octogenarian gang bang on Sean Connery at the Home For Perpetually Aging Renegades. The Eternals personify what can happen when a species grows so powerful they forget how to die, and therefore, their society stagnates. People whose lives never change and never expect change become unbearably dull. The Eternals live in a society where the only punishment for every transgression is forced aging, and since they do not die, they do not breed. By contrast, the brutals live in a post-apocalyptic world of violence, hunger, and superstition. The clash of these two cultures is what drives the story and eventually the conclusion.

I don’t want to spoil it for you, but you cannot miss the film’s final sequence. It is as hilarious as it is bizarre.

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The blushing bride.

But be warned, surviving Zardoz is not without its dangers. Side effects, while not universal, can be quite severe. Just look at what one victim of this movie did to their poor loyal friend.

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The only conclusion I need was found while searching for the above pictures. It goes like this:

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Yes. Indeed.

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