Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.


Cinema Monolith: 3/10
IMDb: 6.1/10
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide: *** out of 4

Released on October 29, 1982
Rated R
93 minutes

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)

8 comments on “Q

  1. Dracula

    King Kong could have taken Q out! Any chance of a Godzilla vs Q in theaters anytime soon?


    • Todd B

      Yeah, King Kong would’ve beat his ass senseless…and I think the closest we’ll get to a Q monster match-up would be Q vs Mecha-Q.


  2. Lord have mercy Todd! What the blue blazes have you found??? Never heard of it. AAARRgggh Quetzalcoatl! “bless me”. I can’t stop sneezing today!

    I just watched the trailer, it does look really stupid fun but I bet that’s all the film squeezed into two minutes. Surely Shaft would’ve punched Q square on the nose. Maybe he just couldn’t be bothered? “He’s a complicated man but no one understands him but his woman.”


    • Todd B

      If you’re allergic to bad movies, and have been sneezing ever since watching the Q trailer, then you definitely should steer clear of this! Although I’d love to hear what you thought of it, so maybe you DO need to watch it…and it is available on YouTube here! In advance: I’m sorry, and you’re welcome.

      And yes, our man Shaft does have my favorite laugh-out-loud moment from the film! “He’s a complicated detective but no one understands him but his kite.”


  3. Been years since I watched this but wouldn’t you know I picked up the Blu Ray edition last year. Might be sooner than later. Don’t recall to much about it overall so yeah guess it’s time.


    • Todd B

      I’ve discovered that the Blu-ray experience seems to improve a movie by a point or two overall, so maybe you’ll have a better time with this one than I did. I just checked out that Blu-ray edition, and the cover art uses the longer title Q, The Winged Serpent, which is not on the poster I know or the DVD’s title card. I’d be curious to find out if your version of the film uses the expanded title, or just Q like mine did.


      • I’ll look into that and get back to you. Funny I have no recollection of this playing movie houses but remember It’s Alive being advertised to death from same director and those ads had all us kids conjuring up horrific images of the hospital room massacre.


      • Todd B

        I remember those ads for It’s Alive…very simple, just showing that bassinet with a black background and that ominous narrator warning us about the movie: “Don’t see it alone…please.” And then he goes on to say it’s rated PG! Why didn’t I go see this back then…and why haven’t I seen it EVER?

        Liked by 1 person

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From the Monolith: 125

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