A few days ago, my chum James “Chewy” Vroman sent me a link to an article on the WIRED magazine website. The tempting title of this little rascal was Old Sci-Fi Movies Probably Aren’t as Good as You Remember. Well, that’s hitting below the belt — how could any self-respecting science fiction buff read this without wanting to discover more? I really didn’t have much on my mind (I know you’ll be surprised) when I clicked on this link, until I saw the movie Zardoz mentioned in the first sentence.
Sean Connery flaunting 2293 fashion in Zardoz (Image source: 20th Century Fox)
OMG! Zardoz! This was a 1974 Irish-American science fantasy film (and later a book) set in the year 2293 starring Sean Connery and Charlotte Ramping. The entire film was shot on a budget of only 1.57 million US dollars… and it shows. On the other hand, “The costumes alone are worth the price of admission to Zardoz,” as it says in the Zardoz entry for The Top 10 Greatest Bad Movies Ever Made on the ZIMBIO website (Zardoz came in #7 and — like you — I’m going to check the other entries as soon as I’ve finished writing this column). Critics found Zardoz to be confusing, poorly acted, and full of atrocious dialogue, but that’s what made it so… Hmmm. You know how some candies are so delicious they are dangerous, while others are so unpalatable as to make you gag, and then we have sweets like sour patch worms, which make you pucker your lips and grimace, but which still have you coming back for more. Well, Zardoz is like the king of the sour patch worms of science fiction. As an aside, two thoughts just popped into my mind: young Oliver Twist saying “Please Sir, I want some more” to Mr. Bumble, when he went bowl in hand to request more gruel (which tastes as good as it sounds), and Chip (played by Kevin Bacon), saying “Thank you, sir, may I have another” during his Omega initiation in the 1978 movie Animal House. But we digress… Moving on, some science fiction/fantasy films are awesomely good; some are dreadfully bad; and some fall in the sour patch worm area in the middle. In addition to Zardoz, a couple of others that I feel belong in this category are the 1968 movie Barbarella, staring Jane Fonda, and the 1975 movie A Boy and His Dog starring Don Johnson (the original 1969 narratives by Harlan Ellison were great, but the movie… definitely a sour patch worm). But it isn’t all about me (it should be, but it isn’t). How about you? Can you think of any science fiction or science fantasy films that you feel fall into the sour patch worm category?