Zardoz (1974) (part 4 of 15)
Cut to a viewscreen for more of Z-Dawg’s memories. In this memory, four Janus Mask Guys come riding up on horses, and they pursue a group of pasty white Sport Coat Guys. You know, someone really should tell these guys that wearing sport coats without a tie underneath went out with Miami Vice.
As the Janus Mask Guys throw spears, we cut to Z-Dawg and find him in a totally different room standing with his back to another viewscreen. Several other hippie guys and gals are all here, watching his memories up on the Star Trek viewscreen with interest. “Terribly exciting,” a girl says. So, I guess in the future, people will be much more easily entertained.
They’re all in what looks like a big orange tent with mosquito netting hanging from everywhere. A really fey looking guy in a shirt that exposes his nipples [?] wonders about the pain the Sport Coat Guys experience. A hippie chick yells that he can’t “equate their feelings with ours!” Wow, it’s almost like the Eternals see the rest of the human race as nothing but animals!
She says it’s “just entertainment”. On the screen, Janus Mask Guys spank the Sport Coat Guys with swords. If that’s entertainment, then I mourn for the future. We again see Z-Dawg on the screen getting it on with Net Girl, and May calls this a “key image”.
Cut to Z in front of the viewscreen, talking and heaving up and down like he’s about to puke. “My father was chosen. My mother was chosen. Only we could breed. Only the chosen!” I believe those are the people we call “heterosexuals” these days.
May and Consuella commiserate about this “selective breeding”, and wonder what Arthur Frayn was up to all these years in the Outlands. Consuella tells May to “never discuss this in the Vortex!” Huh? I thought they were in the Vortex! Make up your mind already, people!
Cut to an Eternal who looks like the result of cross-genetic breeding between Paul McCartney and Eric Idle. He says they should cut Arthur Frayn some slack because no one else wanted to run the Outlands. “He’s an artist! He does it with imagination!” You know, I think I saw that slogan on a bumper sticker once.
On the viewscreen, more Sport Coat Guys get gunned down on the beach. The Red Diaper Brigade whoop it up as Z narrates. “I love to see them running!” he burrs. “I love the moment of their death when I am one with Zardoz!”
Idle McCartney walks up to Z and touches him, noting his “obscenely decaying flesh”. Then he provides sharp commentary on this movie by adding, “The sweet scent of putrefaction already in the air!”
Idle checks Z-Dawg’s teeth [!], calling him a “strong beast” and asking what May will do with him. May explains that she wants to break down his DNA and babbles on and on about some other science-y stuff that’s of no importance to the story.
Consuella gets all smirky and says, “That all sounds respectably scientific.” Actually, no. No, it doesn’t. Unless by “respectable” she means “ridiculous”. Connie asks all the hippies to consider May’s “under-thought” in this matter. As in, the plot of this whole movie was “under-thought”.
She reminds them of how May wanted to have “new births” even though there are no deaths, but her idea was promptly shot down. Meanwhile, an Eternal woman in light blue goes up and starts fondling Z. Connie continues to denounce May’s plans to bring “this animal” into their little enclave, and reminds them all to “think about equilibrium.”
Connie says Z-Dawg’s “presence will dismay our tranquility!” Well, “tranquil” is certainly one way of describing the plot. As another hippie woman comes up and caresses Z-Dawg’s body, Connie warns them all of May’s “destructive tendencies”.
May insists they can control Z-Dawg, but Connie says that if Z had the chance, he would “rape and kill as it always has!” There’s some watermelon, watermelon noises as a woman cries out, “I don’t agree!” and a man shouts, “No, no!” Oh yeah, the taxes! The finger thing means the taxes!
Connie points out the “disrupting effect” Z-Dawg is already having. Suddenly, Idle McCartney blurts out, “Let’s keep it! Anything to relieve the boredom!” Truer words have never been spoken.
A chick in white strolls through the shot, saying she wants to see more memories. Of course, the actress is totally putting on that overdone “this is my only line in the movie” voice. Inexplicably, all the hippies shout in agreement. Connie calls all of this a “psychic disturbance” and asks a chick named “Avalow” what it will “portend for the future.”
Avalow comes forward, and she turns out to be Topless Chick. She’s not currently topless, but she does have Princess Leia-style buns in her hair. A clarinet plays as she says, “How did we conjure up a monster in our midst, and why? That is the question we must answer.” All the watermelon, watermelon noises start again as if this is the most brilliant thing anyone’s said so far in the movie. Actually, checking the tape, I think it is.
Idle McCartney comes forward during the murmuring and whispers to Z-Dawg that he’s “set their fur flying.” Then he puts his arm on Z-Dawg and wonders what’s going on in his “pea brain”. Idle calls him a “sly old monster” and gives him a “chin up” gesture. In response, Z tries to lick his hand [!]. Er, no. That’s not food, Z-Dawg.
Idle just gets a mischievous smile as a bell rings to signal a vote. They all come forward, and a woman in black asks who “For” keeping Zed around. Weirdly, everyone silently signals their votes like they’re in an auction [?]. Seriously, they even have their own individual little hand gestures for this.
The woman then asks who’s “Against”, and Connie votes no by sweeping her hand across her neck. Man, this ballot is even more confusing than the ones in West Palm Beach.
It’s a landslide in the “For” column, so May gives Connie a “nah nanny boo boo” look and Connie takes off in a huff. Idle McCartney turns to Z-Dawg and tells him, “Congratulations, you get to live for three weeks!” Uh, when did “three weeks” suddenly enter into the equation?
A little later, we find some of the hippie chicks in what looks like a petting zoo as they brush the fur of deer and small ponies. Connie is among them, and we see her walk over to feed some monkeys in cages.
As we make our way down the row, we find Z-Dawg in a cage [!]. Idle McCartney lets him out and says, “Morning, Monster! Time for work!” Coincidentally, “Morning Monster” is what I am before I’ve had my caffeine before work. Connie shadows the two of them for a while until they pass through a tunnel. As soon as they’re out of sight, Idle grabs a stick off the wall and cracks Z across the back. Idle angrily demands to know where Arthur Frayn is. Again, didn’t they already learn Frayn was dead and being “reconstructed”?
Then there’s a “pipe organ” sound effect, only played in reverse, as Idle stares at Z-Dawg and Z cringes in pain and collapses against the wall. Friend says, “Ever hear the expression, ‘If looks could kill’? Well, here they can.” Of course, if you were actually born with the ability to kill someone with a look, how popular would this saying really be?
Idle walks forward, and we now see he’s wearing pink tie-dye shorts and a brown macrame t-shirt. And he’s holding a whip. Lovely. Z remains silent about Arthur Frayn, so Idle says they’ll just have to “wait and see”. As they continue walking, a newly cheerful Idle says, “Whenever you’re ready to, just ask me questions!” Geez, is this guy bipolar, or what?
They cross the grass towards a quaint stone building, where a bell chimes and the door opens. Inside is a room of marble statues, and Idle tells Z-Dawg he’ll be performing “menial tasks” for him here. Z, still in his red diaper, takes a long look around. “Is this your god’s house?” Idle says they have “gods, goddesses, kings and queens! Take your pick!” Idle says all the subjects of the sculptures are long dead. “Died of boredom!” A line like that is the bad-movie-recap equivalent of a slow ball, so I’ll just let it pass.