Oh my! Never saw Zardoz, which was released while I was in high school.
It definitely seemed both bizarre and risqué at the time, so I’m sure my very religious parents would never have let me see it, but – at least in my memory – I had no interest in catching this movie. Sean Connery was just coming off a decade of playing the suave, polished, playboy spy James Bond – the epitome of masculinity in the 1960s; by contrast, the character he played in Zardoz came off in previews and promotional materials as less masculine ( in his “hippie” wardrobe) and a bit silly.
As I recall, the film was panned by critics, and even audiences leaving the theater after a showing would advise those waiting in line not to waste their money.
Your revelation of “Zardoz” as a conscious contraction of “Wizard of Oz” is news to me; though I doubt it would have made any difference to me at the time, it does provide a lens within which to make sense of elements of the plot should I ever get around to watching it, though I’d say the chances of that are relatively slim.
On the other hand, the well-reviewed musical, “Wicked,” is based on a 1995 “revisionist” novel of the same name by Gregory Maguire. I have not read any of Maguire’s sequels, nor seen the Broadway production, but the book is grounded in the mythology of this imaginal reality created by Frank L. Baum. The novel both expands on and challenges Baum’s vision – definitely worth the read, at least in my mind.