Zardoz (1974) (part 9 of 15)
But talking to May turns out to be the trick, because next we find Z-Dawg running back to the Vortex. He calls out May’s name, but for no reason at all finds all the hippies standing around covered with sheets [?]. Wow, so all the Eternals come complete with their own dust covers? Cool! And believe it or not, but we haven’t even gotten to the point where things really stop making sense.
Z-Dawg goes into a room and spots May under her own sheet. And I just gotta say, this is like the weirdest slumber party ever. May raises her arms, and says she’s already well aware that Z-Dawg wants to destroy the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. “You want to destroy us,” she says.
“I want the truth!” Z cries out. All together now: You can’t handle the truth! Bah, I deride your truth-handling abilities! May tells him that he must “give the truth if you wish to receive it.”
Z comes over and says that he’s “ready” to give the truth, so May lifts up her sheet and lets him inside [!]. Hey! It is a slumber party!
“It’ll burn you,” she whispers to him. He says he doesn’t care about getting burned like all the people who paid money to see this thing in a theater. May then says to “Tell me everything!” and Z-Dawg, for no apparent reason, kneels and cowers on the ground and starts whimpering [?]. Welcome to another installment of Whaaaa?
May tells him to “Show me pictures.” Okay, here’s me in Rome, here’s me at the Space Needle… “Open your mind.” She wants to see his memories, but Z just keeps cowering and whimpering. Cut to shots from Z’s memory of the Big Giant Stone Head, interspersed with present shots of May. Honestly, it’s hard to know which face is freakier.
Z-Dawg cries, “Zardoz!” and flashes back to when he was a Janus Mask Guy riding through an abandoned town with his homies. He says that Zardoz gave them guns because they were “the Chosen Ones” who were supposed to “kill the Brutals, who multiply and are legion!” For no reason, Z’s sounding really stressed out when he recites all this, almost to the point of sobbing [?]. God, this movie is bizarre.
In the memory, Z-Dawg and his Red Diaper Posse do a little target practice on Sport Coat Guys, as Zed’s VO explains how they “roamed the Outlands” and killed and killed, and “It was enough! Man was born to hunt and kill!”
However, one day, “I lost my innocence!” He sees a face in the window of a building, and shoots at it. He runs inside the building and follows footsteps upstairs to a library. Z says he didn’t know who the person was, but “he led me on, like a game!”
Z is standing between shelves of books when suddenly, a hand pokes out from behind a shelf, holding up a book in front of him. This better not be a copy of Dianetics.
Z-Dawg aims his gun, meaning to shoot the book, but the hand stops him. The unseen person starts turning pages and making gestures like one of Barker’s Beauties. Then he lets go of the book, and it just hovers in mid-air [?]. Z-Dawg walks forward and it turns out to be a preschooler’s book, with the open pages showing that “I” is for “ink” and “L” is for “lorry”.
Z-Dawg’s VO says that he had never seen a book before. From that point on, he quickly learned how to read [?]. “It came easy!” he says. “I read everything!”
He learned “what the world had been before the Darkness fell!” There was one particular book, however, that he struggles to block from his mind. May demands to know what the book was called. Z-Dawg yells, “I don’t remember!” and we see a clip of him ripping a book apart.
Z refuses to say what the book was, and runs through the library screaming, “Zardoz!” Shhh! Then we cut to Z, still under May’s sheet, as she again demands to know what the book was called and Z screams like a woman.
May says he must have known that Arthur Frayn was really Zardoz, and that he must have been the one who killed Arthur. Flashback to Z-Dawg inside the stone head, shooting Arthur Frayn. Suddenly, things are calm under May’s sheet. She says he “murdered your own god, by accident.”
She asks, “Or was it an accident?” No. Actually, it wasn’t. She continues to pester him about the book. We flash to Z reading it and posing for one of those “reading is power” posters. “It was a trick!” his VO yells, as he again rips up the book. May asks what he means, and he replies, “Zardoz said, ‘Stop.’ Said, ‘No more.'” And so did I, about an hour ago, but what good did it do me?
Apparently, Zardoz didn’t want any more killing, so he told Z to instead take prisoners, and make them into slaves. Cut to Z and the Red Diaper Brigade rounding up people with whips. Zardoz wanted them to grow wheat. May asks, “Did you need wheat?” Z-Dawg, sounding really cranky for some reason, says, “No! We ate meat!” And we liked it! Because we were men!
He acts like eating wheat was some huge betrayal, because they were “hunters, not farmers!” There’s a repeat of the shot where Z-Dawg watches Sport Coat Guys plunge stakes into the ground. Back under the sheet, May grabs Z-Dawg’s head and asks him how he got into the Big Giant Stone Head. “Show!” she cries. Don’t tell!
Z-Dawg explains that each season, Zardoz came down to take their harvest. Cut to Sport Coat Guys on the ground doing the “we’re not worthy” thing again. They chant “Zardoz! Zardoz!” as the Big Giant Head comes in for a landing.
Meanwhile, Z-Dawg gives askance looks to his Red Diaper homies, who, strangely enough, all have Freddie Prinze Sr. mustaches. May somehow guesses that “Your friends were Mutants, too!” It sounds like all the Mutants cooked up a little plot once Z-Dawg told them about “the book”.
We then flash to Z-Dawg reading “the book”. May demands to know what it’s called, and we zoom in on the cover to reveal that it’s… The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. [!!!] There’s a shot of Z-Dawg totally freaking out and throwing the book to the ground.
After a random shot of Big Giant Head bellowing, “Zardoz is pleased!” we get a close-up of Zed’s thumbs covering the “Wi” part and the “of” part in “Wizard of Oz.” What’s that spell, kids? You got it, “ZARDOZ!” So Z-Dawg figured out all the obvious parallels between the Great Oz and the Big Giant Head, and he knew his “god” was based on a book. May realizes that for Arthur Frayn, this was a “simple way of controlling the Outlands”.
But Z reminds her of the end of the story, of how they looked behind the mask and found out the truth, so he decided to do the same. So, he got Toto to run over and pull back the curtain…
No, actually, he just decided to hide in the Head while the Red Diaper Brigade shoveled wheat on him. Actually, given all the Oz parallels in this story, I think it makes perfect sense to refer to the Red Diaper Brigade as the Lollipop Guild. And in the name of the Lollipop Guild, weeeeee welcome you to Vortex Four!
May asks what his plans were. “To kill Arthur?” Shot of Z coming out of the wheat. “To penetrate the Vortex?” Shot of Z pushing against the glass wall. She asks if he came here to find a way in for the Lollipop Guild, and we see him giving that Black Power salute again. The worst part is that this flurry of flashback clips almost tricks you into thinking the movie is coming to a finish. But in actuality, there’s almost an hour left. Not good writing.
May asks if he wanted “Revenge?” as we watch him shoot Arthur Frayn yet again. They bicker endlessly about whether or not he wanted “revenge” or “the truth!” This has got to be the most pointless argument since “potato” took on “potahto”.
Then we see Zed running through the library in slow motion and knocking all the books off the shelves. He continues to yell “the truth!” in VO while he hurls books at the camera. Then he full on just wrecks that library, toppling over shelves, yadda yadda yadda.
Now we’re back under the sheet. “Truth or revenge?” May asks. Good Lord, does it matter? He finally says, “Revenge!” and throws May down. He rests his head on her chest, revealing that her breasts are now exposed [?]. Yeah, I think you owe her some Mardi Gras beads now, dude. Then she starts kissing on him [!] because I guess all that revenge talk has made her horny.
Cut to Connie just staring at them through the sheet. She sarcastically interrupts, yanking away the sheet and asking May if this is what she calls a “scientific investigation”. She adds, “There’s another word for it: Bestiality!” Connie says May’s going to get aged fifty years for this. “No less!”
Connie screams that “no man, woman or beast shall ever desire you again!” Um, do any desire her now? Connie starts doing the freaky stare at Zed, and we hear that “backwards organ” sound again.
Z-Dawg falls back in pain, but rises up to grab at the other end of May’s sheet. Connie keeps doing the stare, but Zed shakes it off, and the two start doing an utterly pointless tug of war with the sheet [!]. Wow. This is what we’ve been reduced to, y’all. An idiotic tug of war.
Finally, Z lunges forward and rips off Connie’s shirt [!] and starts trying to lay the mack on her. Hey, what do you want? Zardoz never taught him about “subtlety”. Connie starts to run off, but she stops when Z-Dawg stumbles around the room with his arms outstretched. According to May, “He’s blind!” [!!] What? Why?
Z-Dawg stumbles around the room, walking into a weaving loom and getting all tangled up in threads like a housecat. Connie yells, “He’s out of control!” She says that, for some reason, this means the Eternals must now “become hunters and killers ourselves!” What? Geez, chill out, it’s just one guy. And you were going to “destroy” him anyway, weren’t you?
Suddenly, Connie and May just walk away [?]. Avalow AKA Topless Chick shows up, takes Zed’s hand, and leads him off [?]. Meanwhile Connie and May are… off doing something, I guess. God knows what.