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Zardoz, John Boorman's 1974 cinematic calamity, is not a film for everyone. Overblown and occasionally threatening to collapse under the sheer weight of its campiness, this quirky gem has nonetheless found a home among lovers of the quaint and offbeat. Loosely based on the fantastic tales of L. Frank Baum (the film's title is a hybrid of the words "wizard" and "Oz"), Zardoz tells the story of a society split into two populaces: the Eternals, an educated ruling class that possesses the secrets of immortality, and the Brutals, a warrior race who survive by physical force and animal instinct. Sean Connery stars as a cunning Brutal who infiltrates the Eternals' society to save his people from the wrath of Zardoz, their perpetually cranky deity. ("The gun is good!" explains Zardoz in one of the story's opening scenes, "but the penis is evil!") While Zardoz isn't Connery's worst film (Highlander II, anyone?), it's clear that this material is beneath him; indeed, as director Boorman (Excalibur) himself explains in this disc's wonderful audio commentary track, he was only able to procure Connery's services because the actor, forever typecast as James Bond, was unable to find a "real" project. (Boorman: "Sean was so desperate for film work at that time that he actually agreed to do this movie!") Still, Connery performs his role with gusto, marvelously overacting and pandering to the camera in some of cinema's most memorable — and unintentionally hilarious — scenes. Think about it: where else can you see Indiana Jones's future dad sail through the sky in the disembodied stone head of his god? Fox's DVD edition of Zardoz is presented in a nice anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with excellent color saturation for a film of its era (the image appears a tad soft in places, but Boorman explains in his commentary track that this was an intentional attempt to add more "mystery" to the visuals). Audio is in Dolby 3.0. Special features include the original theatrical trailer, a collection of radio publicity ads, a gallery of behind-the-scenes photos, and the aforementioned commentary track from a clearly embarrassed (and almost apologetic) Boorman. A definite camp classic. Keep-case.
—Joe Barlow