Q: The Winged Serpent
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This fascinating film joins the sci-fi/horror genre with an action packed police story. Michael Moriarty stars as an ex-con, former junkie looking to make one big score. After robbing a Manhattan diamond center, Moriarty goes on the run, and, while looking for a hiding place, finds the nest of an enormous bird.
- Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Larry Cohen
- Poster & Still Gallery
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Someone or something is murdering unsuspecting citizens. Bodies show up missing their skin, heart, and in some cases their heads. Are they related? Detective Shepard (David Carradine) seems to think so, and does the research to prove it. Unfortunately, no one wants to accept his theory, that an Aztec cult has prayed and sacrificed the god Quetzalcoatl into being. They'd rather think that a monster just popped up out of nowhere and started eating the citizenry of New York City. Like that made more sense!
Love all the scenes without Moriarty's cartoon antics (so over the top he's in another dimension, a not so parallel universe where acting like a whack-a-doodle won't get you institutionalized). Otherwise, it's a fabulous monster movie just begging for a remake.
The DVD is good, with a commentary by Bill Lustpig and L. Cohen, but it is more of a case of Lustpig complimenting Cohen for his economic practicality than for his storytelling abilities (I agree with him for the most part, but this gets silly after a while, and since he made "Maniac" I think you understand what I mean). I still can't forgive Cohen though for discovering Bruce Willis, like that's going to be something to put on his tombstone.
I saw 'Q' for the first time on cable in the early 80's and watched it several times because there weren't a lot of channels to watch back then. I was curious to watch it again to see how it held up and if my memory was correct and their wasn't a lot of footage of the monster. I was correct there wasn't a lot of footage of the monster. Very little despite what the director says in the commentary.
DVD & EXTRA'S: The blu-ray quality is decent but not extraordinary. I'm always thankful to the distribution company, in this case, Shout! Factory, for making these old lower budget movies available on blu-ray so even if the pictures wasn't remastered I'm ok with it. The extra's provided are the commentary track by director Larry Cohen and a Theatrical trailer. The commentary track is very good. It gives a lot of information and many interesting facts.
PLOT/SYNOPSIS: Q starts with Detective Sheppard (David Carradine) is investigating some grizzly deaths along with Sgt. Powell (Richard Roundree of 'Shaft' fame). Apparently people are willingly being skinned alive. These acts seem to involve some sort of ancient Aztec ritual which we know is done to summon Quetzalcoatl, the winged serpent. We also get to see a window washer meet Q with the expected results.
Jimmy (Michael Moriarty) is a small time crook who is supposed to be trying to go straight. He has a girlfriend (Joan) who likes to help and date losers like Jimmy. Jimmy goes out and gets involved with a bunch of other crooks and is given the job of driver in a jewelry store heist. The heist goes bad and Jimmy goes on the run and somehow ends up at the top of the Chrysler building. Jimmy goes wandering to the top and finds an unbelievably large nest with an equally unbelievably large egg. Soon after Jimmy hears of all the strange deaths and figures out that he can make lots of money. He agrees to reveal the location of Q's nest to the city of New York if they grant him immunity for past crimes and pay him one million dollars. The city gives in and Jimmy is now a rich man. However, Detective Sheppard makes him come along for the ride when the police department go to the site of the Q's nest. Sheppard, Jimmy and the police make it to the top of the Chrysler building and Q shows up right on Q for a battle against New York's Finest.
PRODUCTION: Most interesting is the fact that it almost starred Bruce Willis and Eddie Murphy. The director wanted both of them in the movie but was overruled by the Producers. Bruce Willis would have had David Carradine's part but Bruce Willis was an unknown at the time and they needed somebody with a name. I don't remember if the commentary track said Eddie Murphy was up for Richard Roundtree's role or for the lead.
The movie was obviously shot in and around New York. For me, the most interesting parts of the movie were the shots taken inside the Chrysler building. Those are actual shots in the top of the building by the windows. The only part that wasn't shot there was at the very top where the nest was. That in itself was a very interesting story. Larry Cohen tells the story of how years later the nest caused all kinds of excitement and confusion because it was left behind in the building it was filmed in and nobody had been up in that part of the building for many years when it was discovered and believed to be real.
At first I wasn't sure if the shots were real. I thought to myself how could the top of the Chyrsler building look like that. But it is in fact real. Cohen went higher than he was supposed too. He had asked for permits many times before he got them. He went into areas he wasn't supposed to go. You see junk all over the place. There are also some dangerous ladders that they climbed in order to get those shots. At the end you see people hanging outside they windows. That is not a special effect. They actually had the actors hanging outside!
I also found the part about the smaller Statue of Liberty interesting. Cohen tells the story of how it ended up on the top of the building he shot on in the commentary. I don't ever remember hearing about it before.
Most of the shots of Q, were stop motion shots. Only some of the closeups were not stop-motion. There isn't a lot but what's there is good for the times.
SOME ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS: I find it almost unbelievable that nobody in New York City saw Q. Especially since he is flying around in the daytime. I know this was before cell phone camera's but really, nobody saw him flying around? 8 million people in New York City and nobody looks up when Q is flying around. You'd figure they's at least send for the national guard with a flying monster on the loose. Another completely unrealistic moment is when Sheppard sends Jimmy up the latter first. I mean, really, the police send up a civilian to do their dirty work? I know Sheppard was pissed at him for holding up NYC but this is just ridiculous. They didn't even give him a gun.
Overall, I'd say this is a decent darly 80's sci-fi/fantasy movie. You can't really call it 'kaiju' but it is sort of a monster movie. It's not great but it's not the worst way to spend an hour and a half either. Stop-motion animation was nearing it's end at this point. We were a decade away from Jurassic Park which would change monster animation forever.
Recommended for 80's sci-fi fantasy fans. Today's generation would find this just a tad boring.
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