As we’ve learned from the writings of Mark and Peggy Noonan, the Powerline trio, and others, George W. Bush isn’t merely an effective leader whose talents are uniquely suited to this period of crisis; he’s a being with powers and abilities far beyond those of ordinary mortals! Which is fine, if winning the War on Terror requires the Chief Executive to reverse time by flying around the Earth really fast, or fight insurgents from the Phantom Zone who possess both superhuman powers and Hugh Hefner’s pajamas. But what if, as the future unfolds, we discover that the real threat isn’t Islamofascism or rogue Kryptonians, but bored immortals who dress like Belgians and can’t get it up. Then who you gonna call?
Suddenly the Clenis isn’t looking so bad, is it?
In order to prepare for this possible dystopia of erectile dysfunction, we present the following educational film:
Directed by: John Boorman (at his most Boorish)
Written by: John Boorman
Zardoz begins in a style reminiscent of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, except instead of a pair of crimson lips superimposed on a black screen, we see the head of a fey Brit, who has drawn facial hair on himself with an eyebrow pencil and donned an Egyptian-style head-dress made from a periwinkle dishcloth. This is “Zardoz” (of the Tumbridge Wells Zardozes) and he’s here to explain things so we don’t get confused.
Like Criswell, he informs us that what we are about to see are future events, that will affect us in the future, while his towel-draped head bounces from one side of the screen to the other, like the cursor in Pong. Zardoz confesses that he’s a “fake god” with a “fake mustache,” but assures us that the boredom we’re about to experience will be genuine.
The credits roll, and “ZARDOZ” appears in a strange, dramatic font (I think it’s Xanadu Bold Condensed) followed by the most chilling words in the film: “Written, Directed, and Produced by John Boorman.” Yes, John’s reward for the success of his previous film, Deliverance, was a bag of peyote buttons and carte blanche to film the subsequent hallucinations. The resulting motion picture was largely deemed a failure by those members of the audience who were not concurrently hosting a large amount of psilocybin in their cerebrospinal fluid, but fortunately, Boorman redeemed himself with his next effort, Exorcist II: The Heretic.
The future gets off to a goofy start when a giant paper-mâché bust of Santa Claus screaming like a howler monkey hovers over the English Midlands, while cavalry soldiers wearing nothing but Angry Santa masks and scarlet hot pants ride around below, the wan light reflecting from their white, hairless, Poppin Fresh-like thighs.
The Giant Screaming Santa Head lands and we learn that this is Zardoz, god and motivational speaker. Zardoz reads the minutes of the last meeting, recounting how it raised the Hot Pants Men from brutality and taught them the sacred catechism (“Who wears short shorts? We wear short shorts!”) so that they might go forth and slaughter everybody who had the decency to wear slacks. To accomplish this, Zardoz reminds them, “I gave you the gift of the gun. The gun is good. The penis is bad. The penis shoots seeds [and occasionally kidney stones] and makes new life.” So auteur Boorman’s vision of the future comprises a society of hot pants-wearing Santa fans who worship the head of Andrea Dworkin.
Anyway, the service ends with the traditional admonition to “go forth and kill!” Then Zardoz suffers a painful attack of acid reflux and vomits guns, just like Hobo Kelly’s toy machine if her mid-60’s syndicated kids’ show had been sponsored by the National Rifle Association rather than Milton Bradley and Bosco.
Zardoz lifts off, and suddenly a topless Sean Connery fills the frame, sporting a French braid, Harry Reems’ mustache from Sensuous Vixens, and enough armpit hair to knit a Cowichan jersey. He looks around at his masked compatriots with a perplexed, irritated expression that seems to say, “What the hell? Boorman told me I’d be playing King Arthur. This looks like a bloody nudist camp on Guy Fawkes Day.” Then he turns toward us, points a revolver, and shoots the cameraman. Alas, he’s not getting out of the film that easily…
To be continued…