Zardoz (1974)

Zardoz (1974)

“The gun is good, the penis is evil!”

In the year 2293, Zed (Sean Connery), an Exterminator in the class of Primitive Brutals, sneaks past the mouth of the stone god Zardoz into the Vortex, where Eternals live forever but cannot reproduce.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Charlotte Rampling Films
  • Class Relations
  • Dystopia
  • John Boorman Films
  • Revolutionaries
  • Science Fiction
  • Sean Connery Films
  • Slavery

Response to Peary’s Review:
It’s hard not to laugh out loud when reading Peary’s review of this notoriously “dizzy, big-budget sci-fi film, poorly conceived and directed by John Boorman”, given that he begins by likening Sean Connery’s Zed to “Pancho Villa in a red diaper”.

He refers to director Boorman’s presentation as “laughable”, deplores the “embarrassingly pretentious and trite scenes and dialogue”, and notes that audience members will become “hopelessly bewildered” by the muddled themes. (See SciFilm’s review for a detailed outline of various “messages” found in the film). With all that said, I can see its cult appeal: any film brave enough to state “The gun is good, the penis is evil!” must be viewed as pure camp all the way. My advice is to enjoy the special effects, laugh at the outrageous costumes, and forget that Boorman ever meant this film as a serious cautionary tale.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Fine special effects — especially the floating head of Zardoz
  • Colorful and unusual sets and costumes
  • Creative cinematography
  • Some genuinely intriguing (if unsatisfactorily explored) sci-fi themes

Must See?
Yes, once, simply for its status as a cult hit. Discussed at length in Peary’s Cult Movies 2 (1983).


  • Cult Movie


One thought on “Zardoz (1974)

  1. Not a must. I was tempted to call it one due to its (noted) cult status. FFs who ‘survive’ it could be up for some kind of ‘purple heart’ equivalent. Alas, though the 1st two-thirds are a unique howl/snore-fest (10 min. in, note the character who exclaims, “How pointless! How pointless!” and perhaps heed the warning), the last 30 min. (which includes the worst take on a ‘performance artist piece’) are so mind-numbingly awful that I wouldn’t wish them on anyone. It’s a long haul to discovering ‘the origin of the Vortex’; by that time, we’re past caring.

    For those still determined, chuckle-inducing moments include:
    -a number of statements by Charlotte Rampling, inc. “I’ve always voted against forced farming.”
    -finding out the name of ‘The Book’
    -when it’s learned that Zardoz had “a simple way of controlling the Outlands.”; not THAT simple, actually, what with having to navigate a huge stone-head, apparently from the heavens
    -the “We take life from you…” sequence
    -Connery in a wedding dress (complete with veil and moustache)
    -Connery being asked to “Inseminate us all…” (ALL?!)
    -Connery’s immortal words to his followers, “Stay close to me, inside my aura.”

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