Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

The film of choice for a drug intervention

Zardoz (1974)
Starring: Sean Connery, Charlotte Rampling, Sarah Kestleton and John Alderton
Director: John Boorman
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

In the distant future,the intellectually curious (yet violent) barbarian Zed (Connery) hides in the floating head of his tribe's god Zardoz and ends up being brought to a Utopian land of immortals who have developed telepathy but lost all passion for life. Here, he may become their salvation or their destruction... or perhaps even both.

If you have a friend or family member you want to convince to stop drinking or using drugs, do this:

1. Get a copy of Zardoz.

2. Get a copy of "The Russia House" or "Hunt for Red October" or "Goldfinger", whichever Sean Connory-starring film they are most likely to want to watch.

3. Put the copy of "Zardoz" in the other movie's box.

4. Next time the friend or family member is blitzed, sit down to watch the movie with them. Show them the box when they ask "what is this shit?" or "why is James Bond wearing pirate boots and a diaper?" or "why is that giant floating head vomiting guns and shouting about penises?" or "why are those old people doing ballroom dancing?" or "why is James Bond pulling Clay Aiken in a rickshaw while wearing nothing but red man-panties?" and say you don't know what they're talking about and make comments as if you're watching the movie the box belongs to.

5. When they stumble off or pass out, switch "Zardoz" for the real movie. Return "Zardoz" to the rental place or destroy it.

6. When your momentarily sober friend or loved one next asks about that weird movie they half-remember from the night before, insist that it doesn't exist. Put the movie that belongs in case in the player and show them what they watched.

7. The fact that they hallucinated something as unbelievably strange as "Zardoz" will scare them straight right then and there. They will be BEGGING you to enroll them in a detox program and they will never touch drugs or booze ever again. Guaranteed.

"Zardoz" is a beautifully filmed sci-fi movie that is so desperate to offer intellectually deep social commentary that it ends up coming across like a boorish grad student at a party trying to convince you of how smart he is. There are some interesting points raised about human nature and civilization, but they are presented so heavy-handedly and in such a trippy environment that you won't really be able to pay attention to them; you'll be too busy wondering how ANYONE thought this movie was a good idea, and, more specifically, how ANYONE thought featuring Sean Connery in pirate boots and a diaper was a good idea (including Sean Connery... he must have been really desperate for a paycheck in those initial post-Bond years).

Aside from curing drug addicts and alcoholics, "Zardoz" might bring a dose of startling weirdness to a Bad Movie Nite. It's not a very good movie, but there's enough here to make it worth watching if you're in the right frame of mind. It's a botched sci-fi film that exists at the crossroads between "Brave New World" and "Road Warrior" and "2001" and "Slipstream", but that crossroads is also home to a pseudo-intellectual swamp haunted by giant floating heads and patrolled by a gun-toting Sean Connery in a red diaper!

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