STARRING: Oliver Reed, Geraldine Chaplin, Don Gordon, Diane Cilento, David Markham

1972, 96 Minutes, Directed by:
Michael Campus

Just like Silent Running and Soylent Green, Z.P.G. is a ‘Seventies vision of how cack the future is going to be one day . . .

According to this 1972 movie we will all one day have to wear gasmasks out-of-doors because of the permanent thick smog that has settled over the dismal urban areas that now cover the Earth’s entire surface; all animals – even common household pets - will be extinct; we will eat tasteless bright-colored paste out of plastic containers; and – worst of all – we all wear identical blue jumpsuits with bellbottom trousers. (Some of us will get to wear huge golden pendants around our necks though – bling of the future!)

Oh, and did we mention that there will also be a complete ban on having children, a crime which will be punishable by death? Hence the movie’s title, Z.P.G., which stands for Zero Population Growth. But then, who would want to bring any children into such a depressing Malthusian dystopia of a world? (Especially if it gets you killed along with your child.)

The couple played by Oliver Reed and Geraldine Chaplin (Dr Zhivago) in this movie, that’s who. Much of Z.P.G. is concerned with their efforts to keep the child’s existence a secret from neighbors and strangers in the street. Finally they are captured, but manage to escape in one of the most ludicrous scenes ever filmed . . .

The rest of the movie is just as ridiculous and unbelievable. Worse still, the film is glacially slow and boring. The couple played by Reed and Chaplin are both emotionally reticent and uninvolving, especially Reed who goes through the entire motion picture with a permanent scowl which implies that he is either severely constipated or pissed off with his agent for letting him star in a piece of B-movie crud like this . . .

If the ‘Sixties were a big party, the 1970s was the hangover the morning after, which is why the decade had so many dystopian flicks (right from Logan’s Run to Mad Max). Ultimately Z.P.G.’s biggest problem isn’t its 1970s pessimism though. No, the movie’s biggest problem is its preposterous screenplay.

Z.P.G. is someone who has never read any science fiction in their entire life’s idea of what the genre is all about. Without any energetic camp (where is Charlton Heston when you need him?) to compensate, this is just a dull slog of a movie . . .



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