Q: The Winged Serpent/DVD/German DVD Review

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< Q: The Winged Serpent‎ | DVD

DVD Review

Larry Cohen's 1982 monster movie that was marketed without showing a single image from the movie, starts off without wasting any time. There is blood, skinned people, sliced-off heads and topless women within the first few minutes. Classic exploitation strategy. The movie then develops into a police story, with Shepherd (David Carradine) and Powell (Richard Roundtree) trying to solve a series of ritual murders that look like being of Aztec origin. At the same time, three gangsters try to rob a jewelry store, which goes awry and the driver, Quinn (Michael Moriarty) stumbles across something really weird in an attempt to hide from trouble: Something that looks like a giant bird's nest on top of the Chrysler Building. It all starts making sense to him when he realizes that the city papers have been full of reports about a large bird of some sort killing rooftop construction workers and sunbathing hotties. He smells his chance to make big money and sells his knowledge to the city administration, who send Shepherd and an army of special forces up the building to track down and kill the "flying serpent", while Powell and a few undercover cops track down the Aztec ritual murderer. Shepherd thinks the two cases are connected.

I wasn't so sure what to make of this movie, because I had never heard of it, and the trailer and DVD cover clowd the movie in mystery. Well done, because the surprise effect made the movie even more entertaining than it was. While Moriarty does a great job playing the nutcase wanna-be bigtime gangster and Carradine plays the routine detective, Roundtree probably didn't spend more than 3 hours working on the set of this movie, and was probably just an asset to put into the ads. His character is unimportant. What IS important is the fast paced script and the great ideas that make this movie really scary (if you can overlook the horribly cheap effects that were used). Q is a remarkable little urban monster movie slash crime flick and is really fun to watch, although it won't knock your socks off. I had fun watching it and Larry Cohen fans in particular might appreciate how he pulled off such a gem in only three weeks of shooting.

THE DVD that was just released by Koch Media here in Germany is a re-release, but this time it is basically the same thing as released by Blue Underground in the States. The Blue Underground release offers the sound remastered in several surround sound formats, a trailer and some DVD Rom content, but it also costs twice as much.

The picture quality is okay considering the material, but this is really just a favor to the fans, Koch also clearly didn't put as much effort into restoring this as they do with their spaghetti westerns. There is considerable grain and the colors are not perfect, but all in all the picture is good. The same applies to the sound, which is a bit quiet and lacks dynamics (reviewing the 2.0 stereo track here only) but is free of annoyances (the movie is uncut, scenes that were never dubbed into German are subtitled). The extras are nice, considering that the audio commentary is the only valuable one, but for that, it is a great audio commentary. Cohen delivers first hand stories from the production and gives insights into the making of the film. A great audio commentary.

FINAL WORD: Q is a great little monster flick and cop movie that will find its fans and is definitely entertaining. The DVD does justice to this gem and offers good quality for the money and a really great audio commentary. The Blue Underground DVD costs twice as much as the Koch Media DVD just for offering a little bit more extras and remixed surround audio tracks that might add some value to the experience, but I was not able to test that.

Special thanks to Koch Media for providing this DVD


Sebastian, co-founder and admin of the Grindhouse Cinema Database (GCDb). He also started The Spaghetti Western Database (SWDb), The Quentin Tarantino Archives, The Robert Rodriguez Archives, Nischenkino and Furious Cinema. Outside of movies, he works on the intersection of technology and policy. He lives in Berlin, Germany.

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