Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Q This

I’ve wanted to watch Q The Winged Serpent for a ridiculous amount of years. Then I forgot about it. Rinse, repeat. Thankfully, I had lunch at a Thai restaurant last week and what poster should they have hanging on their lobby wall? 

Oh yeah. Q-ueue it! 
Quick Plot: Random New Yorkers are being grabbed by a gigantic stop animation winged creature, their blood and limbs that don’t make the diet dropped down upon unsuspecting and horrified pedestrians. Only Michael Moriarty--here playing an ex-con, ex-addict wannabe jazz pianist--and cool detective David Carradine can save the city.

The best thing I can say for Q is that in the first ten minutes, the following events transpire:
-A man is skinned
-Blood rains down upon Manhattan
-Michael Moriarty scats
I’ll bet you a Metrocard swipe you guess how I feel about this film.
Slowly, but surely, I’m coming to realize how very much I adore the canon of Larry Cohen. From the haunting monologues of God Told Me To to the giddy insanity of The Stuff, he’s a filmmaker that never fails to be interesting. Like The Stuff, Q is never actually scary, instead tapping into the grimy spirit of ‘80s Manhattan, the utter oddness of Michael Moriarty, and the glorious then-modernization of old school giant urban monster mashing. It’s kind of a joy in all possible directions

High Points
Enough can’t be said about Michael Moriarity in a Larry Cohen film. The man seems batshit insane in real life, but when working with a Cohen script, his bizarre approach is simply fascinating.

Low Points
Between the adorably dated stop motion and quirky script, there’s nothing actually scary about Q, but isn’t that okay when we have lines like “Maybe his head just got loose and fell off?”
Lessons Learned
The Chrysler is a great place to hide things

Even the toughest gangster can lose some street cred when he sports a vibrant velour track suit
Mimes can make surprisingly effective--and silent--spies

The more PC way of saying ‘flayed’ is ‘skinning’
I will eventually add Q to my collection because much like just about every Cohen film I’ve ever seen, I get the feeling it will benefit from repeat viewings when the surprise factor can be replaced with relaxed enjoyment. The DVD includes a typically fun Cohen/Bill Lustig commentary, a great discussion that reveals some hilarious tips for directing Moriarty (hint: it involves songwriting). 


  1. I remember seeing this movie when it came about. It seemed odd then. It seems odd now. Moriarty made that movie work, I think.

  2. Since it's Cohen, it's a guarantee that it's odd!

  3. Haha, that movie sounds amazing! I should get it for a palate-cleanser after Satan's Little Helper, which I found in a bargain bin for 75p. (I remember how much they hated it on Night of the Living Podcast, so I'm a little afraid to watch it...)

  4. I didn't despise Satan's Little Helper. It's pretty annoying (with the most obnoxious child actor since Jake Lloyd) but there's some black humor to it that I found mildly amusing. Just not as good as Q!

  5. Man, I haven't seen this in years! I remember always randomly catching it on TV late at night and loving it. I also really love Larry Cohen. I put him up there with Dan O'Bannon as a writer of really interesting genre films - there's usually more emphasis on stuff like characterisation and plot. Have you seen 'It's Alive', Emily? Really strange movie about a killer baby that manages to be equal parts ridiculous, compelling and strangely moving.

  6. I think the O'Bannon comparison is sound. And I LOVE the It's Alive series, although I really should revisit all the films. Love how the first is so dark and sad, and then the next two just get crazy (wonder if the Moriarity had anything to do with that...)