Monday, December 26, 2005

Zardoz (1974)

Welcome to the Outland, where men like Zed (Sean Connery) dress in fashionable speedos and suspenders, and a gigantic stone head floats around, vomiting rifles on fearful acolytes down below. When the head lands to be worshiped like the angry god it is, Zed crawls into the mouth and stows away, because everybody knows you gotta join 'em to beat 'em. Eventually he winds up in an iffy computer-regulated paradise, the Vortex, where men are fey, women are harpies, and Zed becomes the target of a great deal of withered pseudo-philosophy. Seems the poor devils in the Vortex have gained immortality but lost their sex drives (though not their taste for pornography, interestingly enough). Plot Twist: triggered by his scanty outfit, some citizens propose using the virile Zed for breeding purposes; this kind of hilarious misogyny was better handled in A Boy and his Dog (1975). Zed rebels, becoming the inevitable fly in the KY jelly, staring pensively into shiny crystals and finally, through skillful manipulation of fun-house mirrors, brings Death back to the Vortex. At least there was no blowhard talk of him "fulfilling the prophecy." Bizarro sci-fi love child of Barbarella (1968) and THX-1138 (1971). Not to be confused with Outland (1981) also starring Sean Connery, actually a bloated space-set remake of High Noon (1952) with nary a giant stone head in sight.

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