John Boorman's psychosexual vanity project Zardoz was a spectacular failure for the director, but — in spite of (and because of) its nonsensical plot — this 1974 film is nowadays lauded as a cult classic.
Boorman, who could do no wrong after directing Deliverance, spins a wacky yarn about Zed (Sean Connery), an "Exterminator" in the year 2293 AD who kills other human "Brutals" in the name of Zardoz, his flying stone godhead. One fateful day Zed sneaks aboard Zardoz's head only to discover that his deity is actually Arthur Frayn, a hyper-evolved "Eternal" who lives in a hidden community with other psychic immortals. There Zed gets into all sorts of shenanigans, like impressing the local women with his virility, chest hair, and sartorial prowess (suspenders and red banana hammock). Sultry!
We love Zardoz here at io9 (see: my avatar, Annalee's review of The Book of Eli which notes that that film is a stealth reboot of Zardoz), but we also understand that the film can be a chore to get through stone sober. Therefore, I've cherry-picked 10 of this coital epic's finest scenes for your viewing pleasure. Sure, these scenes may be confusing out of context, but trust that they didn't really make a ton of sense to begin with.
1.) The Best Intro To A Movie Ever, Part I
The film opens with Arthur Frayn's (a.k.a. Zardoz's) head bobbling at the audience and waxing meta about how Hollywood is god or some other dross. His speech is vaguely insulting and his moustache is drawn on with magic marker (indeed, Arthur makes for a fine no-budget Halloween costume). Already the audience is girding their loins for an arduous trek through the most masturbatory celluloid steppe in science fiction history.
2.) The Best Intro To A Movie Ever, Part II
Even though Zardoz is 106 minutes, it's nice enough to put the best speech in cinema history at the three-minute mark. If you've ever seen this scene, you know it by heart. And if you've never watched this before, make sure you're not drinking anything. We've entered spit take territory.
3.) Psychic Attack, Part I
Early in the film, Zed sneaks into the Vortex, a force field-shielded village where the Eternals live. The Eternals are immortal, have lost the ability to procreate, and possess psychic powers that cause victims to overact.
4.) The Apathetics
Immortal life in the Vortex is horridly dull, so some of the Eternals have become Apathetics. The Apathetics mostly stand about and have baguettes chucked at them by their Eternal caregivers. Zed attempts to have sex with an Apathetic. When she doesn't react to his primal urges, he caber-tosses her comatose corpus.
5.) Entering the Prism
The Eternals also have a sophisticated transportation system powered by flailing. Side note: this man once played the definitive James Bond.
6.) The Sexy Experiment
Because of their immortality, Eternal men are forever flaccid. Zed, who is a genetic aberration from the outlands, is a veritable erection master. In this sequence, the Eternals force Zed to watch softcore pornography, but Zed only has boner shorts for Charlotte Rampling.
7.) The Psychic Attack, Part II
Because the Eternals cannot kill "renegades" in their community, they hyper-age them instead using psychic jazz hands. In this sequence, a renegade Eternal named "Friend" refuses to meditate, so the cast of Godspell use their super-aging brain waves to give him a grand mal seizure.
8.) Zed's Secret Disguise
Presented without comment. Seriously, I have no words for this.
9.) The Orchestra Dies
At the end of the film, the Brutals invade the Vortex and kill everyone...including these musical old men. This is easily the most pointless scene in Zardoz, but it's one of my favorites.
10.) The Best Ending To A Movie Ever
In the film's last minute, Zed and the now-mortal Charlotte Rampling make a life with each other in some smelly cave. Their existence fires by in fast-forward, not unlike the ending of Ice Pirates. And when Ice Pirates makes your film look like the paragon of logical storytelling, you know you've got something special on your hands.