[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.

[Box Office Report] Secret Life of Pets and Dark Phoenix Win the Weekend in Underwhelming Openings

The new releases of this past weekend failed to make a large impression at the domestic box office. The Secret Life of Pets 2 opened to $47.1 million. To compare, the first film knocked it out of the park with a $104.3 million opening weekend, a record-breaker for original animated properties. So I didn’t expect the second film to hit that, but it is surprising how not-close it got, especially after opening on 4,561 locations, second highest theater count ever to Avengers: Endgame. I found the first film’s marketing to be much better on an underwhelming film experience. I expected the original film to be about the secret lives our pets have when we aren’t around, much as the titles suggests. Instead, it was a cheaper less-interesting version of Toy Story.

Fox’s last outing with this iteration of the X-Men, Dark Phoenix, opened to a disappointingly low $33 million, making it the lowest-opening of all the X-Men films and an absolute disaster set to perhaps even lose money, close to half the $65.7 million for X-Men: Apocalypse. News and rumors of the production nightmares as well as the reshoots and release date changes spelled potential doom for this film long ago, but I don’t think I expected it to fail on opening weekend. I had assumed that on its second weekend, we would see a higher drop-off, but this was a surprising turn of events. I checked out Dark Phoenix on Thursday night, and while I felt it was far from the worst in the franchise, it was still in the lower half of rankings, with a disappointingly soulless reinterpretation of the Dark Phoenix Saga.

Disney’s live-action Aladdin claimed third place this weekend with $24.5 million on its third weekend of release. The newest of Disney’s live-action interpretations of their famous properties, Aladdin stumbles in a few places but overall is a fun nostalgic ride that aims to try something new with the story, and I really enjoyed it. Globally, it sits at $604 million, which is currently the fourth highest-grossing film of the year behind Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel, and China Film Group’s The Wandering Earth.

Fourth place this weekend is Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the third film in the MonsterVerse behind Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island, with $24.5 million. King of the Monsters has struggled in its release even though I felt like it was a major step up from the 2014 Godzilla, including all that kaiju which I love so much. The film has issues with its human characters but I liked them more than the blander humans of the 2014 film. It’s doing just fine globally, but its domestic run has been a rough one.

Rocketman nabbed fifth place this weekend, the musical biopic of Elton John claiming $14 million. I caught the film yesterday, and I absolutely adored it, and I hope it holds onto the Top Five for a bit longer.

Late Night opened in limited release with $249 thousand in four theaters. I quite enjoyed Late Night, and it should see some recognition for Emma Thompson’s incredible performance as an aging late-night talk-show host.

Next weekend should be an interesting one as Men in Black International drops alongside the newest Shaft sequel and Jim Jarmusch’s zombie film The Dead Don’t Die. Late Night will also open in wide-release.

So what did you see this weekend? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Eddie Murphy to Appear in Grumpy Old Men-Inspired Film Directed by Tim Story?

Deadline is reporting that Eddie Murphy is set to star in a new film based on the Walter Matthau-Jack Lemmon film Grumpy Old Men, to be directed by Tim Story and produced by John Davis.

The film remains untitled, and no one has been attached to play opposite Murphy at this point. Director Story recently wrapped Shaft and has also helmed the Ride Along films.

The original film featured Matthau and Lemmon as two elderly rivals who find themselves further torn apart when an attractive new neighbor moves in on their block.

My only question is whether this film will have any connection to the originals. If not, then I’m fine. I happen to love the original two films and watch them yearly around Christmas. Being a Minnesota native, they hold a special place in my heart.

In all fairness, though, I just don’t want this to be connected to a film I love so dearly because it sounds like a dud from the start. Eddie Murphy hasn’t had a great track record in a long time and, outside of his work with Shrek and Dreamgirls, he has been a part of mostly garbage. As far as Tim Story goes, I’ve never been interested or impressed by him. His work on Fantastic 4 continues to age poorly and his comedies have not interested me.

Maybe it just depends on who rounds out this cast. If they make some truly inspired casting choices for the other grumpy old man and the neighbor, I may change my mind. There’s also the question of how close this film will be to Grumpy Old Men. Will Eddie Murphy’s character have an even older senile father? A lot of questions to be answered, but right now, I couldn’t care less about this project…for now.

But what do you think? Are you excited at the prospect of Eddie Murphy in a Grumpy Old Men-like film? Who should play opposite of him. Let me know with a comment below, and don’t forget to like, comment, and subscribe!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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[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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