[31 Days of Horror Part VI: Jason Lives] Day 7 – Q: The Winged Serpent (1982)

Director: Larry Cohen

Cast: Michael Moriarty, Candy Clark, David Carradine, Richard Roundtree

Screenplay: Larry Cohen

93 mins. Rated R.

 

Larry Cohen (Original Gangstas, As Good as Dead) is not talked about enough, and he’s a filmmaker that should be on the level of a Roger Corman. For decades, Cohen rocked out many low-budget horror films and genre pictures, and he unfortunately passed away this year. Today, I thought we would discuss Q: The Winged Serpent, Cohen’s response to Godzilla and kaiju films.

There’s something big killing people in New York City, and police have been receiving reports of a big flying lizard. As detectives Shepard (David Carradine, Kill Bill vol. 2, Bound for Glory) and Powell (Richard Roundtree, Shaft, TV’s Being Mary Jane) search the streets and skies for the killer, loser crook Jimmy Quinn (Michael Moriarty, The Yellow Wallpaper, TV’s Law & Order) believes he can help…for a price.

Gosh, I really wanted to love Q. I didn’t love it. I thought it was okay, very cheesy but mostly in a good way, but the film just plain isn’t that good. It’s biggest problem is that I don’t like anyone in the movie, and no one in the film is interesting enough for me as an audience member to attach myself to. Hell, I was more attached to Q, the creature, than to anyone else in the movie.

I’ve never seen Michael Moriarty play a character quite like Jimmy Quinn. His performance is great but he’s in a movie where he seemingly is the lead and I couldn’t stand him. Jimmy Quinn is so damned unlikable that most of the scenes he was in just stalled the movie out. I was more into the performances and chemistry between Carradine and Roundtree, but they didn’t get much time to shine.

The creature is pretty cheesy but it mostly works. It fits the tone that Cohen is trying to craft. I would argue it is more fun to see this type of old-school creature design than a CG monster-fest, but this is who Larry Cohen is. This is the type of film he excels at. It’s what he’s good at. It just doesn’t work as well as other Cohen films have.

Q: The Winged Serpent is a less-than-stellar monster movie. It’s too bad because the problems with the film could’ve been easily avoided if the characters were either more likable or more interesting. Quinn is not enjoyable to focus on, and we don’t get enough time with any of the other characters that could’ve been more fun to follow. There are better Cohen films, and I feel like hardcore Cohen fans could find a lot more to love than the average movie viewers.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

[Happy 15th Birthday!] Shaft (2000)

shaft2000a 

Director: John Singleton

Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Vanessa Williams, Christian Bale, Jeffrey Wright, Richard Roundtree

Screenplay: Richard Price, John Singleton, Shane Salerno

99 mins. Rated R for strong violence and language.

 

Apparently, Shaft is one bad motha-“Shut Your Mouth!”

shaft2000b

John Shaft (Samuel L. Jackson, Pulp Fiction, Avengers: Age of Ultron) has carried on the family crest from his uncle John (Richard Roundtree, Se7en, Speed Racer). When he responds to a racial attack and has millionaire rich-kid Walter Wade, Jr (Christian Bale, The Dark Knight, Knight of Cups) arrested in the death of a black youth. Now, with the help of Narcotics specialist Carmen Vasquez (Vanessa Williams, Eraser, Temptations: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor), Shaft must defend the woman who witnessed the attack from Wade who has now teamed up with drug lord Peoples Hernandez (Jeffrey Wright, Casino Royale, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1).

Shaft is surprisingly not terrible, though it seems to have forgotten a lot of what made the original so cheese-good.

The greatest idea put forth here was to make this incarnation of Shaft a sequel to the previous trilogy. We even get to see the Richard Roundtree as the uncle, also known as John Shaft. I love the idea of continuing the story. Too many films just go the remake route but this works so well.

Sam Jackson does a great job here, but he gets bogged down by the truly disappointing work from Wright and Bale.

I also felt this to be the tamest of the Shaft series. Literally, he doesn’t have any of the sensuality of the original character. Now, granted, as I said before, these are different characters, but I feel like it was a big miss from the film.

shaft2000c

Shaft is good, but I can see why the franchise never continued. Singleton’s directing works in short spurts but this film didn’t really go anywhere. The film had several plotlines that didn’t go anywhere, for example the thread involving Dan Hedaya and that other guy becoming crooked cops. I just didn’t care. There were just a lot of chopping to be done to this film and a lot of elements missing here.

 

2.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For my review of John Singleton’s 2 Fast 2 Furious, click here.

 

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