Film/TV Movie Reviews

Movie Review: ZPG Zero Population Growth

Who needs the radio when you can go outside and listen to this floating speaker in the smog with a gas mask on? (screencap by Mary Miracle)

When I was a child the Sci-Fi Channel played lesser known, older films. “ZPG” stands out in my mind as one of the most intriguing. I remember seeing it and thinking that it was disturbing, campy, and interesting. I finally managed to rewatch it recently and it’s still all of those things.

“ZPG” was filmed in 1971 and released in 1972 so it’s a very 1970’s, jumpsuits and all, version of the future. I recall the now defunct Disney’s Horizons when I visited there in the mid-1990s as totally reminding me of this movie, as that was the early 1980’s vision of the future.

ZPG’s main plot line concerns the title, zero population growth, which is how a country limits the population when it becomes too great to sustain. Though the film is billed as a British science fiction film it was shot in Denmark. There is a very aristocratic British feel to the film but most of the characters do not speak with a British accent.

The exact date of the future depicted in “ZPG” is unclear. The beginning mentions a 30-year ban on having children but they don’t say what year it is and then the film picks up about 8 years after that. You get the feeling that the film is supposed to be set far ahead from the 1970s, but because they were in the 1970s that is what is constantly referenced.

Some parts of the film are most likely because the UK had recently passed the Abortion Act of 1967 and approved contraceptive birth control in 1961..

“ZPG” head tattoo, screencap by Mary Miracle

Babies are marked with this blacklight head tattoo when they are born so there isn’t a way to get away with just having a kid and saying that he or she is a certain age. So what happens if they find out that is exactly what you did? I’m glad you asked because they fucking gas your entire family in this thing.

The film focuses on Russ McNeil and his wife Carol McNeil who work in a museum that displays all of the things that no longer exist in the current smog-filled, baby-scarce present. They are part of the swinging 1970s dinner date display.

“ZPG” museum, screencap by Mary Miracle
screencap by Mary Miracle

Check out this little rebel, that flower is federal property!

Well, what if you still want to bone your husband? Easy, just abort that fetus with the abortion machine that is conveniently located in your bathroom.

“ZPG” abortion machine, screencap by Mary Miracle

If you are feeling a little blue about this state of affairs you can call your psychiatrist on your home video phone. He gives out superb advice that includes watching porn, which reminded me of THX 1138 and buying creepy fake children to satisfy that mothering urge.

Things aren’t all bad though. I mean at least you get an allotted amount of food calories, which come in tubes, and you can visit your parents in the senior museum.

“ZPG” food tubes, screencap by Mary Miracle
ZPG’s Senior City, screencap by Mary Miracle

Plus, they have a personalized Home Shopping Network.

home shopping in “ZPG”, screencap by Mary Miracle

“I thought you wanted a tree, not a tree salesman.” He’s dry but it’s kinda working for him.

As you can imagine, his wife is not satisfied and decides that she will keep her baby. So she hides in the basement for 9 months and they say that she left him. It makes it very hard for him to fight off her friend since they had been swingers before. When he needs to learn how to deliver a baby he just goes to this modern library with video machines that you can learn things on. Of course, learning about childbirth is illegal but he has a great cover and gets to act like this.

video learning in “ZPG”, screencaps by Mary Miracle

Well, when their friends find out about that baby they decide that they should all just share it. I mean they were all sharing each other before that anyway. So, why not?

couple friends in “ZPG”, screencaps by Mary Miracle

How does it end? Well, I don’t want to give that away. I recommend viewing it for yourself.

ZPG’s facsimile baby, screencap by Mary Miracle