Zardoz (1974) (part 3 of 15)
Cut to Connery next to the lake, hiding in some weeds. He spots a line of people in chef hats and brightly colored clothes heading into a man-high blue pyramid. They’re carrying what looks like meat and other offerings, and they disappear [?] when they pass behind the blue pyramid.
He then notices a flower, aims his mood ring at it, and asks what it is. The ring tells him it’s a flower. “For what?” Connery asks. “Decorative,” the ring non-answers. Then we cut to a woman riding a horse and wearing a chef hat. And by that I mean, she’s wearing a chef hat and nothing else. Fittingly, this is our first introduction to Topless Chick, but more on her later.
Connery is startled by a noise, so he looks up and sees several people in a tree, all wrapped around the branches. He listens to them humming [?] for a while, then wanders off where he catches another glimpse of Topless Chick on her horse. They make eye contact and he goes charging after her, but somehow loses her.
Then he runs through the woods for a while, until he comes to the lake. He kneels and drinks for a while, then suddenly turns around. He sees a Chef Hat Hippie approaching him, but for some reason, the image of ripples in the lake is superimposed [?] over the shot of the person approaching. Hey, don’t ask me. I know as much as you do.
The Chef Hat turns out to be a woman wearing a hippie Ren Faire-like flowery outfit. She’s totally freaky-looking, with freckles completely covering her face. Connery aims his gun at her, but she gives him a really freaky bug-eyed look and he cries out in pain. Finally, Connery falls and drops his revolver in the lake.
When he recovers, she starts interrogating him about where he came from. She remarks that he’s from the “Outlands”, but Connery knows he’s in a “Vortex”. He mentions Zardoz, and she probes him further on this. Connery explains that Zardoz says people go to the Vortex when they die. She asks if he thinks he’s dead. He looks around for a long time before responding, “Am I?” No, but you’ll wish you were after the reviews come out.
Soon, we learn that Connery is an “Exterminator” who kills for Zardoz. Freaky Freckle Chick knows he snuck in using the Giant Stone Head, and she wants to know how he got inside the head. When he claims not to know, she gives him that freaky bug-eyed look again. Christ, this woman has got to be one of the strangest looking people I’ve ever seen. The freckles alone are enough to make my skin crawl.
Abruptly, it’s flashback time! We see Sean Connery riding his horse along the beach like something out of a Spaghetti Western. Freaky Friday Freckles Chick asks his name, and he says it’s Zed. “Zed for Zardoz!” Yes, “Zed”. Just like how Brits and Canadians say the letter “Z”.
I’m sorry, but I just don’t think any movie hero should be called “Z”. Plus, I already used the obvious Pulp Fiction “Zed’s dead” joke in my Night of the Lepus recap. So, for the rest of this recap, I’m going to be referring to Sean Connery’s character as “Z-Dawg”. Hope you don’t mind.
We get glimpses of Z-Dawg and some other Exterminators on horses riding down the beach, all wearing their red diapers, and they’re all blasting away at anybody who moves. There are guys running along the beach, and oddly, they’re all wearing sport coats [?].
In voiceover, Freaky Freckles notes that there are “no abstractions” in his memory even though it is “certainly very fragmented”, and thinks entrance into the Vortex is responsible. Well, of course. That’s just a given, right?
In the memory, a Janus Mask Guy rides along the beach and tosses a net over a woman, who happens to be wearing an open shirt with no bra underneath. Quite the motif, that will be. Then we cut to Z-Dawg, lying on what looks like a massage table in a darkened room. There’s a Star Trek viewscreen on one wall, and on either side of the massage table are nude bodies suspended in mid-air behind glass walls. And yes, it’s all just as bizarre as it sounds.
Z-Dawg’s memories are shown on the viewscreen [??]. Freaky Freckle Chick watches while Z-Dawg says that on “Zarday 3/1/2” there were “25 Brutals exterminated,” with “Brutals” being the actual name for the Sport Coat Guys.
On the viewscreen, a Janus Mask Guy wrestles with the girl in the net. Z-Dawg calmly explains that on this day, he “took a woman in His name! Zardoz!” Janus Mask Guy is revealed to be Z-Dawg himself, who leans forward and starts macking on the girl.
The memory shuts off, going to a black screen right at the best part, much like when I try to watch scrambled Cinemax channels. After it ends, we see for the first time that Charlotte Rampling is also in the room watching the memory. Charlotte Rampling is a somewhat well-known British actress with a career that stretches back almost as far as Sean Connery’s, but she’s probably most famous for her starring roles in The Night Porter, Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories, and The Verdict opposite Paul Newman (or, on the opposite end of the quality spectrum, Orca opposite Richard Harris).
Here, Charlotte is wearing a green I Dream of Jeannie-like jumpsuit, and appears to have her hair in the same style as Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes in the “No Scrubs” video. Charlotte remarks, “It seems to be able to control its memory!” Meanwhile, Z-Dawg just holds his ears as he lies on his back on the massage table.
Freaky Freckle Chick tells Z-Dawg to show them “more of your work”. Sure, here’s Thunderball, You Only Live Twice… Z-Dawg reveals how Zardoz made them grow wheat, and up on the viewscreen, there’s footage of Z-Dawg surveying a bunch of Sport Jacket Guys burying stakes in the earth. Freaky Freckles exclaims, “Cultivation has started!”
One of the Sport Coat Guys collapses to the ground, and my man Z wastes no time popping a cap right into his head. Hah! That was hilarious, and making this part even more fantastic is that the Sport Coat Guy is a cameo by John Boorman himself.
The two hippie women commiserate. Charlotte doesn’t like the idea of the Sport Coat Guys being forced to farm, but Freaky Freckles points out, “You eat the bread.” So, don’t harsh our mellow. Freckles eagerly says this is their “first direct visual contact” with the Outlands since Arthur was “delegated to control them”.
Charlotte ain’t having any of this Outlands and Brutals stuff, saying prophetically, “These images will pollute us.” You don’t know the half of it, sister. “Quench it. Quell it.” Freckles points out no Brutal has ever gotten into a Vortex before, meaning a Vortex must be sort of like the Viper Club back in its glory days. She wants to probe into Z-Dawg’s mind further, in the hopes that they’ll also find out where Arthur Frayn went.
Charlotte puts her hand on Freckle’s shoulder, calling her “May”, and it turns out Charlotte’s also wearing a big cubic zirconium mood ring. May brushes her off, and asks the viewscreen to replay Arthur Frayn’s “last memory moments”. Appropriately, those “memory moments” show the Big Giant Head in the sky, slowly receding. Not so appropriately, Arthur himself somehow makes an appearance in these memories. Huh?
May bitches into her ring, asking to see the previous memories so they know how the fall happened. The rings says, “It is permitted only to show the accident. No other memory image may be shown without the consent of the individual concerned.” Whoa, so memories are like Major League Baseball broadcasts?
May tries to talk the ring into it, saying that they need to find Arthur in case he’s injured. The ring responds that Arthur’s dead, adding that “Reconstruction has begun.”
“Ah, yes,” May says. “There!” Sure enough, there’s a fake looking fetus inside a Ziploc bag behind one of the glass walls. Z-Dawg, meanwhile, is kinda freaked out to see this fetus. Charlotte, whose name is Consuella in this movie, says that’s that, and that’s all there is to this Z-Dawg business.
Consuella says May might as well “kill it”, adding for absolutely no reason, “May, for our love.” Whaaa? May says she’ll put it to a community vote, and if Consuella stands in the way, May will have no other choice but to “go to the Vortex”. Wait, I thought they lived in a Vortex. Out of nowhere, Consuella declares, “You’re hurting me.” [??] Her, too?
May says it’s an experiment, and they have to find out how “it” came here. She demands that Z-Dawg tell them where Arthur Frayn is. Huh? Didn’t they already find out that he’s being “reconstructed”? She asks again how he got into the head, and all Z-Dawg says is, “Zardoz.” Okay then, so I guess “Zardoz” must be an all-purpose word. Sort of like “Smurf”.