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Q - The Winged Serpent

USA 1982
produced by
Larry Cohen, Samuel Z. Arkoff (executive), Peter Sabiston (executive) for Larco
directed by Larry Cohen
starring Michael Moriarty, David Carradine, Candy Clark, Richard Roundtree, James Dixon, Malachy McCourt, Peter Hock, Ron Cey, Marie Louise Weller, Bruce Carradine, John Capodice, Tony Page, Larkin Ford, Larry Pine, Eddie Jones
special effects by Dave Allen

Quetzalcoatl

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A series of mysterious & bizarre murders baffle police inspectors Shepard (David Carradine) & Powell (Richard Roundtree), as on one hand people are picked from rooftops & horribly mutilated, on the other hand, some killings seem to be performed in a ritualistic manner ... & then people even claim to have seen a big bird ...

Shepard soon does some research on unorthodox places & digs up the legend of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, who was symbolized by a winged, feathered serpent & who was worshipped by human sacrifices, like the ones in the murder-series ... but try telling that to the commissioner (Malachy McCourt) ...

It seems only luckless & nervy small-fry gangster/pianist Jimmy Quinn (Michael Moriarty) has any clue about what's really going on when he finds a giant egg, a birds nest & some corpses on the top floor of the Chrysler Building ... but he's in no position to go to the authorities, as he has taken part in a jewellery heist, & is now on the run not only from the police but also from his ex-partners, who think he's gotten away with the loot.

The gangsters however soon catch up with him, but thank god at just the right time he remembers his findings atop Chrysler Building & feeds them to the egg's mommy - which proves to be a giant flying serpent.

But luckless as Jimmy is, he soon runs into the police too & is arrested for the heist ... when he sees his big chance coming, & sells his knowledge about the flying serpent to the police for immunity from the law, one million in cash, & of course the book rights.

The cops - led by Shepard - do indeed find the nest with the egg, see the egg hatching & destroy the hatchling - which seems to be dangerous enough, But since they haven't found the mother-serpent too, they somehow manage to wriggle out of the deal of paying the million dollars, leaving Jimmy furious, so furious in fact that his girlfriend (Candy Clark) breaks up with him.

Atop the Chrysler Building meanwhile the situation heats up again as mother serpend is coming back - & boy is she miffed to find her offspring dead ... only eventually can she be shot.

... in a fleapit of a hotel, Jimmy is pitying himself for having gambled & lost everything ... when the serial killer who has performed all the bloody Aztec-like rituals to awake Quetzalcoats shows up on his doorstep, & proves to be pretty miffed that Jimmy's tip-off brought his god down. Only moments before he can sacrifice Jimmy too is he shot down by Shepard, who, with the winged serpent dead, still had to follow up some loose ends concerning the ritualistic killings.

 

Larry Cohen was always the thinking man's exploitation director, was every now & again delivering some sharp satire & social commentary with his enjoyable b-pictures. In this respect, Q might be one of his less-significant pictures, it is however still a fun hommage to 1950's monster-movies, with an enjoyably silly plot, some biting satire (like the small fry gangster seeing his big chance in a murderous beast, & demanding a full pardon - like Nixon), nicely drawn characters, some edgy acting (especially Michael Moriarty as the nervy anti-hero), nice creature effects, & a great use of New York City as a part of the story instead of as just a fancy backdrop.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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