Dusting Off The Shelf: Letter Q

30 Apr

Stewart here…

As our boss has no films that start with the letter “Q”, she asked me to find a “Q” movie worth talking about.  We could’ve gone with Quest For Fire, or even Quantum of Solace.  Instead, I’ll be talking about something more up this blog’s alley: a giant monster movie!  And its the 1982 monster movie: Q, The Winged Serpent!

Synopsis:  A giant winged monster (the Aztec god, Quetzalcoatl) is grabbing people from the rooftops of skyscrapers all over New York.  Meanwhile, a down on his luck petty crook played by Michael Moriarty (who you may recognize as the first assistant D.A. on Law & Order) accidentally discovers the creature’s nesting place inside the Chrysler building, and uses this knowledge for his own benefit, professionally and financially.  Its up to cops played by David Carradine and Richard Roundtree to use Moriarty’s crook to find and stop the giant monster before it creates more of its kind.  Also, there’s ritual sacrifice and a large climax as the police shoot it out with Q over the Chrysler building!

It’s flying into town to make a killing!

Why I chose this film:  First off, I enjoy a good monster movie, and this one was waiting in my queue of movies to see for a while.  It has a great cast attached, and is directed by Larry Cohen, a staple of low budget genre flicks through the 70’s and 80’s that range from blacksploitation (Black Caesar) to horror (Its Alive!) to the truly bizarre (God Told Me To).  Also, this has some surprisingly good stop motion stuff involving the creature, culminating in that big climax at the top of the Chrysler building.  As a goofy monster movie, its fine when its all about Q.

Of course, this movie is not toe to toe winged serpent monster, and a good amount of it is watching our hero cops try to figure out how Q came into being in New York and dealing with the fidgety paranoid Moriarty.  And depending on how you feel, Moriarty’s character can be grating (purposefully so) because of how he feels marginalized and having to lash out at everyone around him.  But that’s nitpicking in a low budget movie like this, and at least, everyone came to play in this.  Its a monster movie in New York, people!


Will I watch it again:  Absolutely.  Its cheesy fun to watch how they pull off all those Q attacks (basically stop motion monster, giant fake claw takes people away, rinse, repeat), and its a rare monster movie that uses all its practical locations.  You have no doubt this is shot in New York.  Realizing they had filmed on top of the Chrysler Building and fired off rounds of ammo from it to get the desired footage is just a great low budget story that you just couldn’t repeat again in the modern age.  And out of the Larry Cohen filmography, its one of the more rewatchable ones.

Well that and The Stuff.   There’s another out there Moriarty performance worth checking out for yourself.

Speaking of Cohen, here’s a brief chat about making the movie along with a teaser that, unlike the actual trailer, doesn’t spoil everything:


Why you should watch it too (or run far away!):  If you love cheesy monster movies like those on Syfy, its not difficult to recommend this one for you.  Its not a “so bad its good” movie like the Sharknado movies, but given a few hard drinks, its a fun one to turn on and watch.

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