BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
During the 1970s, overpopulation and pollution was one the minds of many. From scientists to audiences, the world was all-abuzz with the idea that too many people bumping into each other might just kill us all. It wasn’t due to a concern of disease and infection; it was over resources and pollution.
Science fiction films – offered from directors like George Lucas and Roger Corman – offered countless solutions, regardless of how humorous or disheartening they were. The long-running Planet of the Apes series informed us that even the apes were concerned about such things. Soylent Green just told us to eat people. And The Omega Man suggested it would be Charlton Heston who would alone survive the end of the world.
Yet it was one forward-thinking film that got left behind and casually dismissed for being a lazar-brained attempt to cash in on a global fear. Starring Oliver Reed and Geraldine Chaplin, ZPG describes a bleak and oppressive future where babies become blackmail items and are eventually liquidated and parents – no matter their willingness – a scarcity.
Critics couldn’t have been any further from the point with their collective dismissal of the 1972 Danish-American dystopian science fiction film. ZPG: Zero Population Growth tackles the realities of the situation with a blistering frankness that both disturbs and educates. Sure, the film depicts a world of cannibalism and food riots, but it also educates with just how jar along the synthetic has come along.
Director Michael Campus’ ZPG is possibly one of the most sobering glimpses at the suffocating aspects of our crowd-controlled and smog-filled world. It in, all women are banned from giving birth for a total of 30 years. Apartments house an ABORTION machine. Women are encouraged to use it after sex with their spouse.
For those families desiring a child, there are robots to adopt as they can be programmed to behave like the child they might wish to have. Creepy little robotic buggers that walk slow, talk slow, and act like medicated toddlers. They even cry. British film and television special effects designer Derek Meddings (known for his work in The Land that Time Forgot) designed the robots for the movie and, as he also worked on James Bond pictures throughout the 70s, there’s a retro-funkiness to their design that keeps them locked in the film’s production era.
These orders are all deemed appropriate by the World Deliberation Council who also patrol the streets in the search for illegal children. The citizens are encouraged to do the same and respond by pointing and chanting “baby, baby” until the authorities come to investigate. But for the married couple Reed and Chaplin portray, the artificiality of robo-babies is not enough. They want a real child and, when it is discovered, their sin (in the government’s eyes) threatens to loosen the entire oppressive flag of the future.
The fight that’s bound to be brought forward is one no one wanted, yet everyone needs in order to find a peaceful place to live. Co-starring Don Gordon and Diane Cilento neighbors who want to share the real child as if it were a common household item they share in ownership, ZPG remains an unsettling look at futureshock exploits.
ZPG is presented on blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber Studio Classics. It is currently available for purchase.
MPAA Rating: PG.
Runtime: 97 mins
Director: Michael Campus
Writer: Frank De Felitta, Max Ehrlich
Cast: Oliver Reed, Geraldine Chaplin, Don Gordon
Tagline: Smog covers the earth. The oxygen is depleted. Love is encouraged. But the penalty for birth is death.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Childbearing is herewith forbidden."
Theatrical Distributor: No theatrical distribution in U.S.
Release Date: 1972
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: March 28, 2017
Synopsis: In the not too distant future, a very smoggy and overpopulated Earth government makes it illegal to have children for a generation. One couple, unsatisfied with their substitute robot baby, breaks the rules and gets in a lot of trouble.
Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber
Available on Blu-ray - March 28, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English SDH
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A
Kino-Lorber presents ZPG on blu-ray with mixed to murky results. The aspect ratio is 1.78:1 and helps to retain the theatrical release’s overall feel. Obviously, the image is crisper than anything that has been previously seen. Unfortunately, that’s not saying too terribly much. The set design is a pure blah (with muted colors galore), but black levels are uneven and lines struggle to maintain their edges when the robotic toddlers appear. Minor print damage, at the beginning of the film, settles down after a bit. The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 sound mix, while muffled a bit, is adequate for this release.
A commentary by film historian Steve Ryfle has been included.
- Trailers, trailers, and more trailers are included. Nothing too terribly special.