Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released on October 29, 1982
Directed by Larry Cohen
Written by Larry Cohen
Cast: Michael Moriarty, David Carradine, Candy Clark, Richard Roundtree, James Dixon, Malachy McCourt, Fred J. Scollay, Mary Louise Weller, Bruce Carradine, John Capodice, and LA Dodgers third baseman Ron Cey as Detective Hoberman
A window washer on the Empire State Building is suddenly decapitated…the police find a body in a hotel room with its skin removed…a woman sunbathing on the roof of a high-rise is suddenly snatched by an unseen something…and stunned New Yorkers all over downtown are wondering why blood is falling from the sky. It could only be one thing: the dreaded Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, or as we know it by its more manageable name, Q. But I have a question: it’s midday in Manhattan, and nobody notices a gigantic winged serpent flying above them, screeching madly and leaving mutilated carcasses wherever it goes?
Back in 1982, when Q was released to theaters, this sort of cheap monster film would’ve been right up my alley, and for a buck on Mondays at my local multiplex, it would’ve been easy on the wallet, too. So why didn’t I see it? What kept me away? It couldn’t have been the cool poster art, by noted Conan artist Boris Vallejo, or the fact that it was rated ‘R’, since I was already nineteen and had free reign over restricted movies. No, the answer was quite simple, and was something I sensed then, and probably should’ve sensed during my recent introductory viewing: this movie was just freaking dumb.
Michael Moriarty plays Jimmy Quinn, an aspiring musician who’s also a ‘wheel man’ for a gang of crooks. When a jewelry store heist goes sour, Quinn hides out from the authorities in the rafters of the Chrysler Building, where he discovers a rather large nest containing a rather large egg, and what’s left of that missing sunbather. Meanwhile, a police detective, played by a low-key David Carradine, is looking for Quinn and trying to track down whomever or whatever is responsible for these murders. And since Quinn has the answer to that second problem, he sees that knowledge as a way to save his own hide, and become rich and famous at the same time.
I’m guessing Q was meant to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek, and any movie about an enormous dragon-like beast attacking a metropolitan city shouldn’t be taken all too seriously…but good lord, could the filmmakers have at least tried to use more common sense and less laziness in their storytelling? (And by ‘filmmakers’ I do mean Larry Cohen, who wrote, produced, and directed). Frankly, I was just bored with it all, and even as cheesy entertainment I found it hopelessly lacking; there was just too much Moriarty and not enough Quetzalcoatl. Although now that I think about it, perhaps the ‘Q’ of the title stood for Quinn, which in the grand scheme of things makes a lot more sense.
And speaking of Moriarty…his character was just too much of a whack job for me to care about, and his actions and attitude really got tiresome after a while. I had to wonder, was it his character who was high, or Moriarty himself? Either way, it didn’t take long for me to realize that not only was this guy a nutcase, but a total dickhead as well, and a lousy excuse for our film’s ‘hero’. For me, Carradine’s no-nonsense detective was the most natural and likeable of the bunch; the same went for Candy Clark, playing Quinn’s overly-patient girlfriend, who deserved much better than this neurotic jerk. What she ever saw in him—and why she hadn’t already dumped his sorry ass—is beyond me.
What’s also surprising is the number of Q devotees who exist out there, who not only enjoy the movie from a non-schlock point of view, but somehow find Moriarty’s off-the-wall performance worthy of accolades. Well, I’m here to tell you I’m not one of those devotees; if Q was supposed to be a joke, I flat-out didn’t get it, and as a horror/sci-fi offering, I was seriously not impressed. And if you’re going to make a movie about a giant winged serpent, your most frightening moment shouldn’t be Richard Roundtree being attacked by a child’s kite. (3/10)