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Q - The Winged Serpent

By Jerry Renshaw

OK, who's Q, anyway? "Q" is short for Quetzacoatl, an enormous winged serpent and Aztec deity who's called back to life after a series of ritual human sacrifices in Manhattan. It takes a lot to keep a critter like Q satisfied, so he flies around and lops the heads off sunbathers, window washers and swimmers as handily as popping grapes off the vine. The police are confounded by the murders, decapitated bodies (blood rains from the skies on NYC denizens) and Q-sightings. The solution comes in the unlikely form of Jimmy (Michael Moriarty), a petty thief. After a heist goes bad, he hides from his cronies in the uppermost spires of the Chrysler Building and stumbles on the giant bird's nest and egg. He leads the NYPD up to the lair for a big showdown with Q, but it's not quite as easy as anybody thought, of course. Director/screenwriter Larry Cohen was one of the more inventive, original voices of Seventies B-movies, with credits that include God Told Me To, Black Caesar, It's Alive!, Hell Up in Harlem and The Stuff. With Q, Cohen put together an interesting, entertaining mix of Fifties sci-fi homage (complete with great stop-motion special effects for the terrifying beast), action movie, and crime drama. It also touches on the metaphysical question of how exactly one goes about killing off a god. It'd be difficult to think of a more compelling performance from Moriarty; as the piano-playing, scat-singing small-time crook Jimmy, he's repellent and sleazy. However, he's struck on something that will give him 15 minutes to bask in the spotlight ("I'm the most important man in New York!", he gloats) and give him a chance to redeem himself and save thousands of lives. Moriarty brings a depth to the character that makes him absorbing, if not quite sympathetic, and gets to come across with the choice line, "Stick it up your…brain! Your small little brain!". With plenty of humor, suspense, a gallon or two of gore, and great performances from Moriarty and David Carradine and Richard Roundtree as his cop nemeses, this is great, original, entertaining sci-fi fare.

 

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FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Soundtrack unavailable at Amazon.com - try eBay (see links below)Rated RNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Larry Cohen

Stars: Michael Moriarty, David Carradine, Richard Roundtree, Candy Clark, John Capodice, James Dixon, Malachy McCourt

Released: October 29, 1982

Availability: DVD VHS


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