Q: The Winged Serpent (1982) An Illegal Alien Trump Really Should F##king Squawk About Q: The Winged Serpent (1982) An Illegal Alien Trump Really Should F##king Squawk About
Jimmy Quinn is a piece of shit. He is a small time crook too cowardly for the big score and he doesn’t have the... Q: The Winged Serpent (1982) An Illegal Alien Trump Really Should F##king Squawk About

Jimmy Quinn is a piece of shit. He is a small time crook too cowardly for the big score and he doesn’t have the stones to go straight. When Quinn gets nervous he looks like a lacquered dog turd plopped at the curb, surrounded by mounds of rotting garbage. After all, this is the New York City of 1982, folks. It wasn’t the spit shined amusement park it is today. It was a glorious dump–a breeding ground for all manner of cretins, criminals and cast-offs. The city resembled a festering Petri dish for pornographers, pimps and palookas. Yeah, we all miss it. It was a wonderland where someone like Quinn could scrape out a living and dream of the easy way to a fortune. A guy can find some crazy shit climbing around under the spire of the Chrysler Building. Maybe he will get lucky and find a way to blackmail the city for a million dollars. Again, this is 1982.

Larry Cohen’s Q: The Winged Serpent is an entertaining monster movie. Made in 1982, it is a throwback to the B-movies that were made thirty or forty years before that. is the kind of flick you may have watched with your father on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Maybe you’re playing with your Godzilla toy on the floor, anxiously awaiting the next guy to get his head bitten off, and the old man is half asleep on the couch. He has one hand wrapped around a Budweiser can and the other is down his pants as he drifts back to the days when he felt his first breast. This would have been before he made the mistake of marrying your mother, having you and ruining his chances of playing third base for the New York Mets. A bum knee and lack of talent will do that to you. The watery look in his sleepy eyes tells you he wishes he was that construction worker snatched off the roof by that giant, snot colored bird with the thirty foot wingspan.

968full-q--the-winged-serpent-poster

is blessed with sharp, witty dialogue and good performances from a group of familiar faces, who just never seemed to reach super stardom, or who had fallen out of the spotlight for awhile. The story (and there really is one here) involves the police investigating a bunch of mysterious deaths of people on rooftops, as well as a bunch of gruesome, sacrificial type murders in the dark corners of abandoned warehouses. Listening to Detectives Shepard (David Carradine) and Powell (Richard Roundtree) use gallows humor to lament the case as they stand next to a waterlogged body with the heart cut out, or watch a headless corpse get wheeled out in a body bag is a real treat. It is also a testament to Larry Cohen’s effective and efficient screenplay. The audience is interested even when we don’t see the monster or witness drops of blood and body parts splashing onto the streets from high above the city.

Enter born loser, Jimmy Quinn, played by an excellent Michael Moriarty. He’s a bundle of nerves who is a decent piano player, but an even better wheel man for some lowlife jewel thieves. His benevolent girlfriend (Candy Clark) tries to get him to go straight, but he just screams at her and tells her to fetch him a drink. According to her, Quinn isn’t above smacking her around either. A real gentleman, this fucking guy is. The skilled Moriarty makes him loathsome and pitiable all at the same time, the kind of skell he would be prosecuting on the early years of Law and Order. It is fun to watch the way in which Cohen–usually a clever genre writer–makes Quinn the focal point of the movie.

The serpent, Q, is an ancient Aztec god. It’s full name is the laborious to pronounce Quetzalcoatl. This ten dollar name seems more fitting for some luxurious Mexican airline, or tasty seafood dish. The screenplay gets some smiles out of David Carradine’s character trying to pronounce it as he confers with Aztec experts on scenic university campuses and in stuffy museums. Herein lies an interesting question.

Can you kill something if you can’t pronounce it’s name?

The performances by the main cast members are uniformly good. Along with Cohen’s screenplay, they all give us more than your normal B-movie (that isn’t a backhanded compliment because most B-movies are better than the crap we get from major studio releases, both thirty years ago and today). Carradine, sometimes so stoic and tacit in his roles, seems to be having a real blast in this without winking to the audience. Roundtree is his usual intimidating self. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get to kick any real ass in this. Although, he does get to taunt and smack Quinn around in a police station, so that is fun to watch. Moriarty is excellent in this movie. Watching him get drunk with the power his knowledge gives him makes the audience really despise him when before we had some sympathy for him and his situation. It really is a nuanced performance and Cohen gives him a great arc. If his character would have been in a straight drama it would have garnered more attention than it got.

The cinematography by Fred Murphy is astounding in this. He makes us feel entombed in claustrophobic places and has us soaring high above Manhattan in other instances. Robert O. Ragland’s fun score underscores the aerial photography and almost sounds like dark circus music to terrify those of us with a fear of heights, or monsters that can rip you apart with sharp claws.

The monster?

Given the shoestring budgets that Larry Cohen usually worked with on his directorial adventures, the monster in is a great piece of stop-motion magic created by a team that featured David Allen. It gets the job done and adds to that nostalgic feeling that you are watching some 1950s sci-fi movie that had Ray Harryhausen doing the creature effects. Cohen wisely limits showing the winged serpent in full view until the ten minute showdown between it and a small army of cops who are holed up in the top of the Chrysler Building. Watching the beast swoop down on the spire, dodging machine gun fire laced with tracers, and chomp down on unlucky police officer is what these types of movies are all about.

If you have 90 minutes to kill, pop in and pretend you’re a kid again. It’s a fun ride.

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Tarmac492

Imprisoned on the overtaxed, overpopulated and overpriced fortress of Long Island, Tarmac492 seeks refuge in the pop junkyard of his brain. He enjoys books, film, television, music and a good drink, or seven every now and again. Beautiful women love being "friends" with him and they find his useless knowledge mildly diverting. Tarmac492 hopes to move to Tierra del Fuego where he can waste away--blissfully drunk and anonymous--at the end of the world.

  • Full Frontal Throttle

    Nice blast from the past!

  • Full Frontal Throttle

    Q!

  • Full Frontal Throttle

    I guess Q and It’s Alive are his big films. He wrote the Maniac Cop series, but I can not remember any other “quality” films that he did. He did sooooo much baaaaad stuff!

  • Tarmac492.1

    God Told Me To is very good. The Stuff was pretty entertaining. He wrote alot of stuff, too. He seemed to have that weird, flirty relationship with A-List Hollywood Studios that Romero had. Like they just werent quite good enough to get there, but they loved their basic ideas.

  • Full Frontal Throttle

    Forgot that one

  • Full Frontal Throttle

    Might need a Cohen Top 10………………

  • Tarmac492.1

    Return to Salem’s Lot might be the worst movie ever. He did something with Betty Davis that was awful, as well. Cant deny he has really done some garbage.

  • Abe

    I swear I did see this on a Saturday afternoon. Some window company sponsored the entire show because those were the only commercials on…odd times.

  • Full Frontal Throttle

    Wicked Stepmother?

  • Tarmac492.1

    yup. garbage. He wrote Bestseller which was good.

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    Yeah, they never quite crossed over into bigger budget affairs, but it didn’t really matter until the eighties ended and all the independent companies went bust. Then the work dried up for both, as well as many of their peers.

    You could never get a film like this, or other sleazy but competently made and cleverly written ‘B’ creature features from the early eighties such as Alligator or Basket Case, made today. It’s either bland PG-13 studio pics or amateur-hour micro-budget horror movies, with no in-between.

    Damn shame. You’d have thought the availability of cheap digital equipment and home FX packages would’ve engendered a renaissance in this sort of movie, but alas, that doesn’t seem to the case. I guess the appreciation for good trash has died a death in today’s sterile and homogenized world.

  • Tarmac492.1

    agreed. Especially your last paragraph. A damn shame. Fucking Alligator is a fucking entertaining movie. Would love to see Sayles do some more genre work. He was involved with JP4 years ago, wasnt he?

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    Yes, and his script involved using raptors as military weapons – which seems to be where they’re going with the next sequel, anyway, so they probably owe him a check in the mail.

    I seem to remember it was a really goofy script, and had a squad of dinos bearing shoulder-mounted cannons and storming a fortress to kill some terrorist mastermind. Might have been laughed at as a mainstream effort, but if it was done as a low budget movie without the JP name, it could have been as fun as the above-mentioned creature features.

  • Tarmac492.1

    That is pretty funny. Good drive in(what is that??) fare.

  • Great text again, but man, I gotta say I am not a fan of this movie. There was maybe the most casual cultist killing ritual ever captured on screen and that’s not a good thing. And my alarm bells ring whenever I see Carradine as a major cast member, especially when he plays a good guy. I am not that big of a fan of Cohen, but I have a soft spot for “Ambulance”.

  • The Maniac Cop movies rock though.

  • Alligator is a masterpiece.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Thanks. But they were giving themselves up to the god, willingly. I thought the dialogue was real and witty with some great one liners. And I really think Moriarty’s performance was great in this. Great opening with the window washer.

  • Tarmac492.1

    was that Avco Embassy? And Lewis Teague is garbage except for Alligator. Jewel of the Nile and Navy Seals are shite.

  • Full Frontal Throttle

    They certainly do, in a cheesy 80s kinda way.

  • Full Frontal Throttle

    Maniac Cop Boi

  • Full Frontal Throttle

    Gator

  • Full Frontal Throttle

    Size means something

  • As cheesy as they were, they were well done.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Robert Z’Dar bitches!!!!

  • Tarmac492.1

    “How big is it?”
    Punk kid “You know an El Dorado?”
    “The car?”
    Punk kid “No, a refrigerator.”

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    Cat’s Eye was a good anthology flick.

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    The first Maniac Cop was rather pedestrian. That series is a rare case of horror sequels mining the general concept to more entertaining and inventive effect.

  • Yeah the 2nd one was much better. Is William Lustig underrated? I think so.

  • and who could forget this:
    https://youtu.be/9MtdhFL1Fm8

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    Yes, although, like a lot of others, he didn’t do much after the early nineties. I guess the cleaning up of the Big Apple during that period put paid to things as much as the death of the Independents.

    I recall there was a remake of Maniac Cop in development for awhile, with Nicholas Winding Refn onboard as writer and/or director. The Cannes crowd would eat that shit up, lol.

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    Rap and eighties horror make strange bedfellows:

  • Bop

    That troll was fucking hilarious. What a nasty little fellow.

  • Bop

    I found him very hilarious in Tango & Cash.

  • Never saw this, I’m ashamed to admit.

  • KilliK

    LOL

  • KilliK

    Harry as a toddler?

  • Zed

    Poor Bette.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Maniac might be the Zenith of sleezorama-slasher flicks. It is fairly disturbing flick to watch. I would put it up there with Henry:Portrait of a Serial Killer as the best and most effective serial killer/slasher movies ever. Yeah, Silence of the lambs was great and all, but did it disturb you like Maniac? No. Shouldnt a realistic serial killer movie disturb you? You dont think there are people like Spinnell’s character roaming the red light districts of the world? Don’t be afraid to go into the water, be afraid to walk down the street.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Yes, the cleaning of NYC killed these type of flicks. They went from realistic terror to almost supernatural as those kinds of areas no longer exist in the city. The city is quite beautiful now. I still like to find the pockets that are only half cleaned up. You need some grime in your neighborhoods. Amazingly enough, there are probably areas of Long Island(once the beautiful suburbs) that rival the city’s worst ‘hoods. Shit, I got mugged at gunpoint getting off the train in the town I grew up in, so there you go. Madness.

  • Tarmac492.1

    A Refn slasher/horror flick would most likely be beautiful. Sign me up.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Rivals the mayhem of the piranha attack on the camp and resort in Dante’s flick.

  • Tarmac492.1

    If you like dirty little b movies you should enjoy. You ever see It’s Alive?

  • I think the only Larry Cohen films I’ve seen were “The Stuff” and “The Ambulance”, If I remember correctly.

  • Stalkeye

    David Carridine, Richard Roundtree and Michael Moriarty?? Kane and Shaft vs Q?? Shit, I overlooked this one fo sho!
    Mike was a solid actor but never really got to blow up as he should’ve.
    have you seen Report to the Commissioner or Holocaust? His best performances IMO.

  • Stalkeye

    Well, I liked the first one at least starring Bruce Campbell.

  • Stalkeye

  • Stalkeye

    “Don’t be afraid to go into the water, be afraid to walk down the street.”

    Growing up in NYC, that was the foist rule of thumb.

  • I like the 2nd one with the supernatural angle even more, to be honest!

  • Stalkeye

    That’s definitely some straight up 80’s Shit.

  • Stalkeye

    And in some cases, Metal.

  • Stalkeye

    I barely recall the 2nd one. But now that you mentioned a Supernatural spin on the franchise, (Which should have explained Michael Myers since the first two Halloween Films.) I may need to revisit the sequel. KODI, here I come!! *Wink*

  • I cannot promise that you will love it but I promise you will enjoy it.

  • Full Frontal Throttle

    Lol

  • Stalkeye

    That’s good enough for me.

  • Stalkeye

    “Yes, the cleaning of NYC killed these type of flicks.”
    As well as the careers of many Jizz Moppers. Oh, Giuliani, look at what have ye have done?

  • Coupon: The Movie

    He also created the 60’s TV show The Invaders with Roy Thinnes.

  • Coupon: The Movie

    Moriarty is great in It’s Alive 3. Q and that one were made back to back and the deal was Moriarty would sign for both.