Weaponized Weirdness on Hulu: Zardoz (Watch it Now Before It’s Cancelled)

 

 

 

I’ve been scarce around here of late, because I think I’ve beaten the topic of Battlestar Galactica to death and what with the COVID, and the lockdown, and everything else, I needed to escape from reality for a while. And what better way to do that than by writing a military history of the Spanish Civil War?

 

But I’ve finished the first draft and now I have to leave the rainbows and unicorns of 1930s Spain and come back to the grim present.

 
A cursory glance at Hulu’s latest offerings revealed one of the strangest, cruelest, most twisted and downright sadistic movies ever made. Nevertheless, I decided to skip Star Trek: The Motion Picture and instead immersed myself in the glorious pseudo sci-fi/erotic futurism of Zardoz.
 
 

Zardoz | Trailer | 1974

 
 
 
Intoxicants Are Mandatory
 
Once, long ago, I watched Zardoz sober.  I found it tedious and silly, but mostly tedious.  However, if one self-medicates with drugs and/or alcohol (as the cast and crew almost certainly did), it’s a fascinating journey into the weird psycho-sexual gobbledygook of the 70s.
 

 

For those of you raised on a steady diet of #MeToo and affirmative consent, this is going to bring on a serious culture shock.  Sean Connery (who must have needed money very badly) is a “brutal” named Zed.  Yep, he’s the symbolic Last Man with the Last Letter as his name.  Deep, huh? (This film is full of messages as subtle as a Louisville Slugger to the forehead, starting with the odd prologue which should be your signal to toke up and top off.)

 

 
 
 
Zed is a stranger in a strange land.  Through cunning and luck, he infiltrates the Vortex, peaceful center of an otherwise violent world, where effete elites live an increasingly jaded existence, burdened by eternal life.
 
 
You see, in the grim darkness of the far future, roving bands of warriors will rampage at will, riding bareback and using a collection of British prop guns that never need reloading.  Their credo (I am not making this up) is: “The gun is good.  The penis is evil.”  (I knew some radical feminists in college who totally agreed with this.)

 

“The penis is evil. The penis shoots seeds, and makes new life, and poisons the earth with a plague of men, as once it was. But the gun shoots death, and purifies the earth of the filth of brutals. Go forth and kill!”

 
 
Anyhow, Zed shakes up the decaying, increasingly apathetic society (including a group of people cleverly named “the apathetic,”) via the innovative strategy of physical assault.  This not only brings an end to their cozy world, it also breaks up a lesbian couple who decide that Connery is the dish they’ve been craving all along. 
 
 
 
 
Decadence Breeds Despair
 
Okay, once you dump the gratuitous nudity, obligatory violence and expository dialogue that could have been cribbed directly from Masters & Johnson bong session, you’ve got story that really focuses on what it means to live without fear of death.
 
 
As someone who crafted a brilliantly-written but tragically underselling book on the topic, I’m sympathetic to this concept.  Still, I’m not sure I would have gone all-in on the plastic wrap and handlebar mustaches.
 
 
Anyway, this is actually relevant to our current situation, where we clearly have people with more money and affluence than they know what to do with, so they amuse themselves by destroying everything within reach.  Zed is merely the embodiment of their Death Wish.
 
 
 
Whoa.  That’s heavy stuff.
 
 
Alternatively, you can watch Zardoz for what it is: one of those oddball should-be-preserved-under-glass artifacts of the 70s like Phantom of the Paradise or Space: 1999
 
 
Either way, it will probably be canceled soon, so watch it while you can.
A.H. Lloyd

A.H. Lloyd

Obscure author and curmudgeon. Read my other ravings at www.ahlloyd.com and buy my brilliant books.

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