Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Film

‘Q The Winged Serpent’ – A Neo-Noir Monster Movie with a Gritty New York Setting

Genre pioneer Larry Cohen takes a stab at the giant-monster genre with Q, The Winged Serpent, a first-rate grade-Z schlock masterwork, which successfully combines a film noir crime story with good old-fashioned creature effects. The title refers to the winged Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, represented here as a dragon-like, flying serpent hovering over New York City. Detectives Shepard (David Carradine) and Powell (Richard Roundtree) investigate a bizarre series of deaths where victims have been snatched from high-rise buildings and dropped to the streets below, minus their head. After witnesses report seeing the flying creature, Shepard follows a lead that Quetzalcoatl has been brought back to life by a series of sacrifices performed by a killer they are also chasing. Meanwhile, when a diamond heist goes wrong, petty thief Jimmy Quinn (Michael Moriarty) hides out in the infrastructure of the Chrysler Building where the creature has made a nest. Quinn takes advantage of knowing where the serpent resides and tries to negotiate with the law, trading in the whereabouts for a pardon and a million dollars in cash. It’s a typical oddity from Cohen, a revered figure in cult movie circles, who wrote and directed such gems as It’s Alive!, Bone, Gold Told Me To and The Stuff.

Sleazy, entertaining, and guerrilla filmmaking at its best.

Q-the-Winged-Serpent1

Given his budgetary restrictions, Coen directs Q much like Spielberg directed Bruce in Jaws. We see a shadow here and there across the sides of skyscrapers and along the Brooklyn Bridge, and we catch a glimpse of it’s giant claws, but Cohen keeps the creature mostly offscreen for the first two acts. The cinematography by Robert Levi and Fred Murphy makes the most of the Big Apple atmosphere, and the aerial photography representing Q’s-point-of-view is especially impressive given the low budget. The monster itself looks silly, brought to life by a combination of stop-motion animation and prosthetics (courtesy of David Allen) – but the homemade, Ray Harryhausen-like quality only adds to the pic’s odd charm.

What makes Q such an enjoyable film, is not so much its gore nor its creature, but rather Cohen’s sense of humour, and Michael Moriarty’s knockout performance. The film lights up every second Moriarty is onscreen as the small-time criminal, down on his luck, and on the run from the mob. His performance is so good, that the story becomes more about Jimmy than about the giant serpent terrorizing a city. A frequent Cohen collaborator, Moriarty (best known for Law & Order), dominates every scene, stealing the spotlight from everyone including David Carradine (a bigger name actor). The film’s best scene in fact, takes place in a diner, where Carradine and Moriarty go head to head in what feels like an outtake from Michael Mann’s Thief. Carradine looks as if he’s always trying to catch up to Moriarty’s quivering hysterics, and the fun comes not in seeing Quetzalcoatl decapitate civilians, but rather in seeing whether Jimmy can break his streak of bad luck. The supporting cast includes Candy Clark as Moriarty’s girlfriend, Richard Roundtree as a detective investigating a mysterious series of deaths, and Malachy McCourt as a police commissioner.

Cohen used what little resources and money he had and made the most of it. Q is a movie crammed with witty dialogue, bizarre plot twists and some great ideas. Sleazy, entertaining, and guerrilla filmmaking at its best.

– Ricky D

Q-stills

Some people take my heart, others take my shoes, and some take me home. I write, I blog, I podcast, I edit, and I design websites. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Goomba Stomp and Tilt Magazine. Host of the NXpress Nintendo Podcast and the Sordid Cinema Podcast. Former Editor-In-Chief of Sound on Sight. Former host of several other podcasts including the Game of Thrones and Walking Dead shows, as well as Sound On Sight. There is nothing I like more than basketball, travelling, and animals. You can find me online writing about anime, TV, movies, games and so much more.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We update daily. Support our site by simply following us on Twitter and Facebook

You May Also Like

Wrestling

Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin Best Survivor Series Matches (1996) The greatest and arguably most important match in Survivor Series history is without a doubt, Bret...

Wrestling

Deadman Walking Best Survivor Series Matches (1991) Survivor Series 1990 is known for the iconic debut of The Undertaker, and technically that is correct...

Wrestling

Chris Benoit & Kurt Angle vs Los Guerreros vs Edge & Rey Mysterio Best Survivor Series Matches (2002) The 2002 Survivor Series Tag Team Championship match...

Blog

Back at it again with Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales with this awesome recreation of one of the best scenes from the Spider-Man: Into the...

Blog

The Best BTS Songs Part One: 30 To 16 If you’ve read my work here before, you may have realized by now that I...

Blog

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is one of the best-selling games this year, having currently sold more than 26 million copies worldwide. Various brands and...

Game Reviews

A fun bit of fan service, Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory may not be worthwhile for casual fans but will greatly please series stalwarts.

Blog

2020 has been an awful year for many of us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have nice things. For example, the annual Game...