Q: The Winged Serpent/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Q: The Winged Serpent

Larry Cohen's 1982 giant monster thriller which was originally marketed without showing a single image from the film, starts off without wasting any time. There is blood, skinned people, sliced-off heads and topless women within the first few minutes. You know, a 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 clouded 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.


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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