I think that I may have misled - I said "From php, I can unzip it and work with the files." but I meant to say "From php, I can then unzip any archive file and work with the files by calling the executable to do the work."
This unzip.exe that I mentioned before may be your best bet -- once the executable is in place, the php calls will work. It really is simple php after the unzip program is on the server. There are versions of this that will run on either Linux or Windows (please read the PHP: Zip File Functions - Manual: and see if it isn't what you need.)
Some hosting services may already provide this unzip library or an alternate compiled library for you to access via PHP or Perl. If not, some may do all of the back-end installations of the unzip.exe for you - to all of your appropriate cgi-bin folders.