Blu-ray Review: Zardoz - Twilight Time Limited Edition

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Specialty reissue label Twilight Time has added the 1974 cult favorite Zardoz to their ever-growing catalog of limited edition Blu-ray releases. With a production run of only 5,000 (a wider release than TT’s standard 3,000-copy releases), fans of writer-director-producer John Boorman’s will want to snatch it up fast. The tagline reads “Beyond 1984, beyond 2001, beyond love, beyond death.” If that sounds a bit inscrutable, wait till you see the movie. Top-billed star Sean Connery’s oft-mocked costume (thigh-high boots and a red diaper, basically) offers another clue that Zardoz is unlike anything else before or since.

For fans of ‘70s sci-fi cheese (think the Planet of the Apes sequels, Soylent Green, Logan’s Run, that sort of thing), Zardoz is fairly essential viewing. Those without an acute taste for this type of tacky, overstuffed, and surprisingly pretentious material might not get as much out of it. For Boorman, this was apparently a real passion project, hence the triple hyphenate. In Earth’s distant future, humanity is divided into the Eternals and the Brutals. The Eternals live in the lap of luxury in the co-called Vortex region, while the Brutals toil away throughout the wrecked landscape of post-apocalyptic Earth. A false god called Zardoz, who floats in the sky in the form of a concrete head, has coerced the lowly Brutals to give up procreation in favor of rampant murder. We’re informed of the falseness of Zardoz’s status right up front, in a brief prologue featuring Niall Buggy.

Zardoz BD cover (215x280).jpgZed (Connery) upsets Zardoz’s plan when he steals aboard the concrete head and makes his way into the Vortex. Zed alternately fascinates and strikes fear into the Eternals, with May (Sara Kestelman) and Consuella (Charlotte Rampling) taking particular interest. Zed’s vitality injects a flash of red-blooded passion into the sterile world of the Vortex. It’s all very trippy and otherworldly, a genuine oddity of a film that suffers primarily from sluggish narrative pacing. The cast often seems unsure what exactly Boorman expects of them, which results in some unfocused performances. But again, there’s an audience for this kind of a ponderous extravagance. Even though Zardoz flopped theatrically 40 years ago, it has developed an audience and remains an interesting curio of its era.

Twilight Time’s Blu-ray offers a solid technical presentation of the imaginative, effects-heavy Zardoz. Having not seen the film since the days of VHS, I was astounded by the clarity in Geoffrey Unsworth’s cinematography that we see on this upgrade. However, the movie has been available previously on DVD and I admittedly don’t know that looked. Still, this 1080p transfer presents the hazy, soft-focus look of the film with great accuracy. The audio is listed as DTS-HD MA 2.0, though it’s apparently encoded as a 5.1 mix. It’s definitely front-centric, no issues of any kind. David Munrow’s score is included as a DTS-HD MA 2.0 isolated track.

The primary extras here are the audio commentaries, one by director John Boorman and the other by film historians Jeff Band, Joe Fordham, and Nick Redman. There are also a clutch of radio spots and the original theatrical trailer. Twilight Time has imposed a “three copy limit” on the high-demand Zardoz. Visit Screen Archives (distributor of Twilight Time releases) for ordering information while supplies last.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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