Zardoz (1974) (part 14 of 15)

This segment goes on forever, as we continue to see projected images of all the Eternals doing interpretive dance, with moans and shrieks all around. We hear a woman’s voice say, “Afraid?” No, not at all, but thanks for asking. Some of the images, by the way, are now getting that wavy effect like when they used to flashback to stuff on The Jeffersons.

Z-Dawg continues to run around, coming to mirrors, and viewscreens, and mirrors, and viewscreens, before finally getting fed up and shooting his gun. This appears to have no effect. Regardless, we hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir say, “You have destroyed us.” Um, okay. If you say so. You’re the Tabernacle, so I guess you should know, but I didn’t think it would be so easy. I guess all it took to destroy the Tabernacle was running around in a hall of mirrors confused for several minutes, and then shooting in a random direction. Who knew?

“You have found the flaw in the crystal,” the voice says, as we see Z-Dawg bouncing from mirror to mirror, with all the projected images and sounds suddenly gone. “We are gone,” the Tabernacle says. “You are alone.” So Z-Dawg starts shooting his gun a few more times, I guess out of boredom, and he continues running around as we hear his grunts and moans and screams echoing like crazy. Hello hello hello! Echo echo echo!

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He turns and finds himself face to face with a Janus Mask Guy, complete with red ammo belts and red diaper. Z-Dawg and Janus Mask aim their guns point blank at each other. The question you gotta ask yourself is, do ya feel lucky, well, do ya? Punk?

We focus in on the edge between two mirrors, causing an “arty” split screen effect where we see half of Janus Mask Guy on one side, and half of Z on the other. Wow! They both shoot, but Z is the quicker draw, and Janus Mask Guy goes down as the gunshot echoes like crazy.

Zardoz (1974) (part 14 of 15)

“If he sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the Tabernacle! That’s the Vortex way!”

Then we cut to the Janus Mask Guy on his feet again [?]. Here, we only see his reflection, and the gunshot wound in his chest “artfully” lines up with the bullet hole in the mirror. Like, wow, man. We cut back to Z-Dawg, and then back to Janus Mask Guy, who, surprise, surprise, is now Z-Dawg with a bullet in his chest. Wow. Zed killed his old self. Do you get it? Well, do you?

We zoom in on the bullet hole in the mirror, and find that the mirror is now oozing blood [?!]. Uhh… sure. Why not? In the mirror, there’s a close-up of Dead Z-Dawg’s face as he slowly collapses to the ground.

The next thing we know, we’re back in the statuary, and Eternals and Apathetics and Renegades are using pipes and sticks to smash up the marble statues. All of this is in slow motion, by the way, and we even hear their voices all slowed down like a tape player running out of batteries.

Cut to Z-Dawg still in the statuary, asleep on his desk with the zirconium hunk next to his hand. What a coincidence, because I need a nap right now. Friend, May, and some other female Eternals run in and try to wake Zed. When that doesn’t work, Friend orders the women to pick him up and carry him out the “east door”.

Suddenly, they see Connie and stop. Friend cries out, “Oh, it’s too late! He’s finished!” May pleads with her not to do whatever it is she’s about to do, but Connie simply says, “Wait!” and she goes over and kisses Z-Dawg on the bridge of his nose [?]. This instantly wakes him up [?!?].

Z-Dawg, a tenth of a second later, is already on his feet and fully alert. He says, “Stay close to me. Inside my aura!” [??] I’m really not sure who he’s saying this to, but that must have been one good nap.

The guys with pipes and sticks come running in, but Z-Dawg holds out a hand like he’s directing traffic. This causes “wind” noises to be foleyed in, and all the guys with pipes start walking backwards [!]. Hey, so this is where Michael Jackson got the idea!

As Z-Dawg and the female Eternals and Friend march forward, the film is suddenly run backwards [?].The guys with pipes walk backwards, then some of them leap backwards, way up in the air. Then we see the footage of them destroying all the statues played in reverse, as all the statues rise up from the ground and reassemble.

Zardoz (1974) (part 14 of 15)

“Beeefore you break my heart! Think it ohhh-ohhh-ver!”

Birds chirp as Z-Dawg, still holding the hunk of zirconium, leads them all outside onto the lawn. He just stands there, stoic, him and his zirconium, and all the women just look at him like he’s the best thing since sliced green bread.

Then, back in the statuary, everything gets busted up all over again [?] as the Apathetics and Renegades run back into the study. We get lots of watermelon noises like, “Where did they go?” and “He’s disappeared into thin air!” Uh, okay, so Z-Dawg had some kind of “make time run backwards” spell that he used to escape? If that’s the case, then why not make this movie run all the way back to the beginning, and just walk out then?

Outside, Z-Dawg is still standing there with his pet diamond. Friend walks up to him and asks, “What the dilio, dawg?” Or words to that effect. After a moment, Z-Dawg stares off into space and says, “An old man calls me.” [??] But it turned out he had the wrong number, so I hung up. Then he misquotes some other poem, telling Friends that “The voice of the turtle is heard in the land.” [?]

Back at the Old Folks Home, Z-Dawg is showing his pet rock to Grandpa Simpson. Grandpa says, “I remember now! The way it was! We challenged the natural order!” We pan over and see Z-Dawg, the Renegades, and all the Eternals, including Connie and May and Friend, standing in the Old Folks Home and listening intently. “The Vortex,” Grandpa Simpson says, “Is an offense against nature!” No, this movie is an offense against nature.

“She had to find a way to destroy us!” Grandpa weakly says. She? Who is he talking about? “Battle of wills,” Grandpa says. “So… she made you!” So, Z-Dawg is some kind of preordained savior who was meant all along to destroy the Tabernacle? Riiiight.

Grandpa Simpson says, “We forced the hand of evolution!” Good Lord, what are you babbling on about, old man? Grandpa does a totally freaky laugh, which quickly turns into a hacking smoker’s cough. Then he abruptly stops and dies. [!!!]

Z-Dawg crosses Grandpa’s arms and shuts his eyelids, saying, “A good death.” Compared to Kirk in Generations, maybe so. When all the Eternals realize that he’s dead, they’re ecstatic. Then Friend yells, “Look!” And we immediately cut to the Big Giant Stone Head flying through dark clouds.

It comes crashing to the ground right outside the Old Folks Home, or at least, that’s what I’m assuming. In a sure sign that they were running out of cash by this point, it’s accomplished using the cheapest special effect in the whole movie. To simulate the Stone Head “crashing”, they immediately cut away to the Old Folks Home and do the old “zoom in and out really quick and shake the camera” trick. Now, that was weak.

Then we see Topless Chick raising hers arms and singing as she stands in the middle of a big fountain. All of the Eternals are surrounding the fountain, and they have their arms outstretched, ready to do the Time Warp again.

Then we cut to Z-Dawg on a hill, fondling his pet rock. “Take this, and let your sons and daughters look into it!” He hands his pet rock to May on a horse. He tells her to go east, young woman. “There, you will pass through the wall!” May wants to know what will become of him and asks if he’s going back to his old ‘hood.

“There is no going back for me,” Z-Dawg says, and he fondles her hair one last time and takes off. He then gives really limp high fives to other Eternal women as they ride past on horses. Geez, man, considering you inseminated them all in that little “osmosis” session, is that the most affection you can muster? Strangely, all the women are now wearing parkas. I guess the flimsy pastel colored tunics are out this season.

Cut to Z-Dawg walking along somewhere, and suddenly a bunch of Eternals come running at him, screaming and wielding pipes. He continues to walk calmly on. Connie jumps out of nowhere and yells at the mob, “It’s useless! It’s over!” And then they all instantly stop the charge. [?]

Z meets up with Friend, who happily tells him, “The Renegades are dying like flies!” Another Eternal overhears this and is shocked. Connie says to this guy, “It’s not Zed to blame. We destroyed ourselves!” What? Why would they blame Zed? I thought they all wanted to die!

As they all stroll past the mirrored blue pyramid, Arthur Frayn suddenly pops up and says, “That’s truer than you know, Consuella!” Frayn himself, however, also wants to “claim some credit”.

Arthur Frayn says that “our Death Wish was devious and deep!” He says being Zardoz allowed him to choose Z-Dawg’s “forefathers”. He calls it “careful genetic breeding that produced this mutant! This slave who could free his masters! And Friend was my accomplice!” He was? You know, this little “wrap up” is coming dangerously close to the ending of your typical Knight Rider episode.

Frayn says he was the one who showed Z-Dawg the Wizard of Oz book, and we get a helpful flashback to Frayn holding the book to illustrate. He then claims that it was “I who gave you access to the stone!” The stone? Oh, the Stone Head. We get another flashback to Zed being covered in wheat. Then we flash back to Frayn doing a totally demented flip of his Chef Hat while his voiceover exclaims, “It was I!”

Zardoz (1974) (part 14 of 15)

I think I liked the old host of Reading Rainbow better.

Back in the present, they continue walking along, and Frayn says, “I bred you! I led you!” Z-Dawg replies, “And I have looked into the face of the force that put the idea in your mind. [?] You are bred and led yourself!” So, in other words, as Torgo once said, you have failed yourselves!

Friend puts his arm around Arthur Frayn and they have this “clever” exchange:

Friend: Arthur! We’ve all been used!
Arthur Frayn: And reused!
Friend: And abused!
Arthur Frayn: And amused!

Meanwhile, I snoozed.

Multi-Part Article: Zardoz (1974)

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  • Colinclout

    I’m sorry – for someone who slags off the movie’s script as being v. similar to the ramblings of a pot-addled high-school student, you *do* realize, of course, that what you have here is no better than that? I don’t understand the purpose of this: if the movie is as tedious and tiresome as you say it is, why would someone prefer to read your account of it? – which can’t help but be as equally tedious and tiresome as the movie is, unless enlivened by some real wit (which it isn’t). Pfffffffffft…ahhhhhh

    You do realize, as well, that the situation of The Eternals in the movie functions as a perfect analogy for your own life? I.e., anyone who goes out of their way to recount, in writing, *an entire fucking movie,* shot by shot, scene by scene, with next to no commentary on it apart from saying the equivalent of “Duh?” every once in a while, has *way* too much time on their hands…

    • You idiot

      So says the person who supposedly read through this supposedly tedious recap of a tedious movie and saw fit to leave a slightly long comment about why they didn’t like reading this when you could’ve just, I don’t know, did something else.
      And you say that they’re the one wasting their time.

  •  This review gave me more laughs than any movie review I can remember reading ever. And it has significant therapeutic benefit since I watched Zardoz (all the way through) and Ghod help me, get an uncontrollable urge to see it again every few years.

  • Spatula

    This is, hands-down, my favorite review-summary of Zardoz that has ever been written. Every time I read “Friend, for utterly no reason…” I’m just about in tears from laughter.

  • The best thing about Zardoz is its eroticism. It’s filled with tits and beautiful people doing beautiful things. Zardoz is documentary evidence of 70s eroticism in film. It has a cast of hotties and lots interesting sexual subject matter. I feel it also has some of the best social commentary of any science fiction film. I appreciate the references to Blake and Motzart and feel the literary aspect of the film must be informed by the works of Herman Hesse (who was very influential in the ’70s). There are so many brilliant scenes in this movie I can’t believe it. To an audience centered in contemporary cinema, the special effects of this movie seem corny. I never approached this movie with the jaded eye of that audience. The in-camera effects from the early 70s are iconic. This is classic sci-fi from the perfect moment in history. Zardoz is the most extravagant and best example of 1970s science fiction imaginable. It has a wonderful cast of stars and a brilliant director. It is an amazing collaborative accomplishment.