Q: The Winged Serpent – A Retrospective

Lets have a quick conversation about schlock. I always appreciate anytime a filmmaker is swinging for the fences. Doesn’t always have to be an arthouse jam. It can be the guise of any kind of 60s/70s churn trash that manages to have someone smart behind the lens.

And to me, that’s what I want in schlock. I don’t care if its one takeaway, like a single shot or line read. Sometimes the whole movie can be worth it for one scene a glory in a sea of violent, crazy stupidity.

Especially this time of year. I just decided to reactivate my sub to Shudder so I can get me a good dose of schlock, when suddenly…

Criterion, you fuck. I just gave shudder my money. While I am still trying to decide, I went ahead and looked at the list. Got some good shit on there like Near Dark or Society. Plus a few others I haven’t seen.

Among those, I was recommended this film by a motherfucker much more well versed in schlock. And luckily enough for me, its on prime right now.

So, I watched it.

What a delightful piece of trash. You know, I think this thing may be textbook schlock.

Lets take it in pieces, that monster looks like bad Harryhausen. The director does everything in his power to cut around it. You only really see it at the very end. The movie starts with like 3 kills all in a row (including one with classic unnecessary nudity). All of them are cut so fast you don’t really get to see what is killing these people.

So buried in this giant monster living in NYC killing people movie is a procedural in which David Carradine and Richard Roundtree try to figure out what is going on…AND a fucking heist movie in which Michael Moriarty completely botches the heist and spends the rest of the movie trying to redeem himself.

To me, I think those two sub plots is really what makes this movie. ESPECIALLY Michael Moriarty, who turns in a performance that is leaps and bounds above being in a giant fucking monster movie. I mean, it is almost worth watching the whole movie just to see that performance.

Also, the script is shockingly tight. A ton of horror movies tap dance to get to that 90 min runtime. This feels like the perfect length. Never overstays its welcome. Doesn’t drag it out.

The actual kill effects are much much better than the Harryhausen-style monster. They are fucking gross in the style of the time, and look relatively clean.

The ending is definitely lackluster and probably the weakest part of the entire enterprise. But again, it doesn’t linger. We move on and credits.

Overall, I am really glad I watched the thing. You kind of forget sometimes what its like when a single director writes a thing, shoots it, and its not a fucking franchise and its not dragged out over like 6 episodes.

3/4 – Looking for some schlock? Check out Q. If not just for Michael Moriarty’s performance.

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