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Q: The Winged Serpent


'Q' earns a B+.

Rod Lott August 23rd, 2013

Michael Moriarty's Quinn is a lowlife blowhard, a criminal who never has paid taxes but always is quick to pay attention to the bottle. Yet it's this very collection of human deficiencies that marked Q: The Winged Serpent unique upon its 1982 release and helped keep it alive ever since.

qwingedserpent
It also helps that it's about a giant, dragon-like creature that snatches up New York City residents from rooftops for snacks.

Running concurrently with a serial killer skinning his victims, the monster's appearance has the Big Apple police force on edge. While running away from some of New York's finest, Quinn mistakenly stumbles into the serpent's nest, and sells the info of its whereabouts to the authorities for an even million. His payment hardly marks the end of Quinn's run-ins with Q, aka Quetzalcoatl, a deity of the ancient Aztecs.

Writer/director/producer Larry Cohen (The Ambulance) makes B movies on purpose, and Q clearly is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the giant-monster subgenre of the Atomic Age, played straight. He also makes movies that cast NYC as a character, usually seedy. Whereas King Kong famously scaled the Empire State Building while being shot at, Q's home base is the Chrysler Building, from which he swoops in and out via stop-motion and miniature effects that were good for their time and budget, not to mention with a smidge of planned imperfection.

With a cast that includes Candy Clark (Zodiac) as Quinn's long-suffering girlfriend and Kill Bill's David Carradine and Shaft's Richard Roundtree as cops, Q: The Winged Serpent is one of Cohen's best works. Its self-knowing humor and Moriarty's unconventional leading-man performance see to that.

Cohen contributes a proud commentary to Shout! Factory's Blu-ray, otherwise void of extras beyond trailers. —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:
The Ambulance DVD review
The Feathered Serpent: Complete Series DVD review
Shaft: The TV Movie Collection DVD review

 
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