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 sat... more »isfied, 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. --Jerry Renshaw« less
"Q is a fun, low budget thriller from B-movie auteur Larry Cohen. The premise is that an ancient Mexican God Quetzalcoatl has taken the form of a giant flying serpent and is living somewhere in New York, feasting on unsuspecting residents. Sunbathers, window washers, high-rise construction workers are all fair game for this gigantic beast.Michael Moriarity stars as Jimmy Quinn, an out of work piano man/small time criminal. It's so weird seeing him in a role like this, as I am used to seeing him on the TV show Law & Order as an ADA. In this movie, his character stumbles on the secret location of the beast's nest, and he tries to use that information to get money and the respect he thinks he deserves. While a criminal, I did feel a certain amount of sympathy for this character in the beginning, which evaporated rather slowly as the intoxication of power sets in, along with its' illusions. In the beginning, he was just some poor schlub who couldn't catch a break, but later on his true nature appeared. I read a quote once, I am not sure by who, that said something like 'to really see what's in a man's heart, give him some power'. David Carradine plays a detective who's trying to solve a series of gruesome murders, and his investigation leads him into uncharted territories of the unknown. The deeper he gets, the more he butts heads with his supervisors, who would rather see things cleared up neatly and without any superstitious mumbo jumbo. Also look for Richard Roundtree, as Sergeant Powell, a cop wound a little too tight whose beliefs are based on what he can see and touch.The actual creature does not get much screen time, but its' presence is noticeable throughout the movie. I really enjoyed the storyline with Quinn, his tenuous relationship with his girlfriend (Candy Clark), and the manner in which he tries to use the vital information. Here's a small time schnook, never had a break in his life, literally trips over something, sees nothing but the value to himself, and tries to get everything but ends up with nothing.Here is another fine example of a filmmaker making a lot out of very little. The horror aspects of the movie are present, and the special effects are used sparingly, but the characters drive the story. Another example of this is the original Jaws movie. I suppose the special effects were kept to a minimum due to budgetary limitations, but it helped, rather than hindered, the movie. This movie also has a raw, gritty feel to it, in the sets, use of locations, dialogue, giving us an almost documentarian feel.The movie is presented in a wide screen format, with good audio. A number of special features include commentary by the filmmaker, biographies, trailers, and promotional materials. All in all, not a bad way to spend 93 minutes."
BEWARE! This version DOESNT have the original ending!
cookieman108 | 09/19/1999
(2 out of 5 stars)
"ANCHOR BAY DOES IT AGAIN! THEY GOOFED! With Anchor Bay famous for restoring cut scenes, for giving you bonuses like alternate ending or deleted scene, I was HORRIFIED to see that despite the new widescreen transfer, they failed to restore the original theatrical ending! When i saw this at the theatres, the film ended with a message telling you what happened to Michael Moriarity's character. BUT when it came out on MCA videos and on Showtime, the message scene was cut out. But when it played on HBO and CINEMAX, and syndicated TV, it was in. So I figured Anchor Bay will restore it, but they didnt! So if you still hvae the old cable, or even the syndicated TV print, DONT ERASE IT!"
Its Name Is Quetzalcoatl, but Just Call It Q
Michael R Gates | Nampa, ID United States | 07/21/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"No matter how preposterous or cliche a film's bare premise may sound, if Larry Cohen's name is attached to it, you can be certain that it's an interesting and entertaining piece of cinema. Cohen's scripts and films are always filled with lots of wild imagery (both literal and figurative), often complex themes, and lots of sophisticated satirical subtext. And his 1982 opus Q: THE WINGED SERPENT is no exception, despite whatever the goofy-sounding title may seem to imply. As usual, writer/director Cohen's tongue-in-cheek film sidesteps the usual horror cliches and instead delivers a fairly tight story, interesting characters, clever dialog, and a ton of subtle yet witty social metaphor. And yes, there is also a little nudity and gore.
The titular Q is Quetzalcoatl, a flying serpentine god of the ancient Aztecs who has been summoned to modern-day Manhattan via bizarre sacrificial rituals performed by a contemporary Aztec priest. Since its arrival in The Big Apple borough, the humongous beastie has been swooping down on unsuspecting pedestrians, swimmers, and sunbathers and chowing down, but police are initially skeptical of the eye-witness reports of a giant flying reptile but are at a loss for any other explanation. Enter street thug and opportunist Jimmy Quinn (Michael Moriarty). Having inadvertently stumbled across Q's nest, Quinn's willing to give that information to the cops--for a price.
The special FX in Q: THE WINGED SERPENT, especially the stop-motion animation of the serpent itself, are admittedly cheesy. But the FX aren't really the point as far as Cohen is concerned; they're just window dressing. Instead, with his usual satiric flair, Cohen uses the film to take some playful pokes at the modern Western lifestyle. For example, Q: THE WINGED SERPENT draws several sardonic parallels between ancient pagan religions and modern Christianity. Notes one cop after learning the details of the Aztec sacrificial ritual: "The victim's heart is ritually removed and presented to the god. Luckily, all WE have to do today is eat the wafer and drink the wine--that?s being civilized." And in several shots of the Chrysler Building, Cohen makes deliberate visual comparisons of the modern architecture to that of ancient Aztec temples.
The acting in the film is pretty good overall, and Cohen manages to coax an especially outstanding performance from actor Michael Moriarty. In a role that is the opposite of the conservative types that he usually plays, Moriarty is hilarious yet believable and sympathetic as the dim-witted, hapless hood who hopes to sell his knowledge of Q's whereabouts to city authorities for a cool $1,000,000. David Carradine (of KUNG FU fame) does a pretty good turn as the city detective in charge of the Q case, and Richard Roundtree--cinema & TV's original SHAFT--is delightful as Carradine's partner. Cute Candy Clark, nominated for an Oscar for her performance in 1973's AMERICAN GRAFFITI, also does a great job in a minor role as Moriarty's live-in girlfriend.
Blue Underground's DVD release of Q: THE WINGED SERPENT is a must-have for Cohen fans. It offers a nearly pristine digital transfer of the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 (16x9 enhanced), with audio options that include the original mono, an excellent stereo remix, a Dolby 5.1 track, and a DTS 6.1 track. Bonus features include an informative and entertaining running commentary with Cohen and his protege Bill Lustig, as well as a teaser trailer, a photo gallery, and some DVD-ROM-only goodies.
In short, Q: THE WINGED SERPENT may not be Cohen's best flick, but it's a pretty good one that won't disappoint fans of the writer/director or fans of B-movie horror. And Blue Underground's DVD is well worth the price of admission."
Larry Cohen Strikes Again!
Linda K. Brengle | New Albany, Indiana United States | 09/17/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you like outrageous humor, Q is simply irresistable. First, there's a giant mythic Aztec "serpent" which makes a habit of swooping down on unsuspecting New York sunbathers and construction workers. (We get to see New York through the eyes of the bird---expressionistic style.) In a likeable performance, David Carradine as a police detective, diligently researches the creature and then tracks it down---his efforts climax in a hilarious "finale" in which Carradine and his cohorts attempt to machine-gun the monster as it collides into buildings. Doubling the fun is a wonderful performance by Michael Moriarty as a frustrated jazz pianist who resorts to small-time crime to make a living and ends up discovering the serpent's egg at the top of the Empire State Building. (As Mr. Moriarty happily confides to the audience, "I'm afraid of almost everything, but I'm not afraid of heights!") Whether singing scat songs, hobbling through New York on a gimpy leg, or demanding immunity from the police ("I want a Nixon-like pardon!"), Mr. Moriarty is always a delight. And so is this movie."
Celia Doyle | 11/25/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"We all love a good B-movie, and "Q" tops my list of guilty pleasures. It is, simply put, a good old-fashioned B-movie romp, with all of the requisite ingredients- a fabulous monster, a scenery-chewing cop, an oblivious public, and an anti-hero (you can't decide if you love Michael Moriarty or hate him). I would definitely recommend "Q" for viewing on a laid-back Saturday evening with a bowl of popcorn."