DVD Shopping Bag: Q The Winged Serpent (Mania.com)
By:Robert T. Trate
Date: Monday, August 19, 2013
As fall approaches, the pumpkins sprout, and the horror titles will arrive in the DVD Shopping Bag. Over the next several months, a cornucopia of titles will surface. Many will be the rehashes in new packages with the same old special features that now grace the $5.00 bin at Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target. Since we love our horror here at Mania, I thought I would spotlight a growing surge in my collection. One that may overtake my Criterion titles with a shelf of their own.
While writing the DVD Shopping Bag Column for the past 5 years, I have acquired numerous Horror and Sci-Fi titles. Not so long go, Shout! Factory obtained the rights to distribute numerous titles from Roger Corman’s New World Productions. These films were banished for decades to VHS oblivion with no special treatment whatsoever. Shout! Factory gave them not only a proper transfer, but supplied special features and retrospectives, as well. For many fans, just having these films on DVD is enough. Now, here they are on Blu-ray with multiple covers and behind the scenes features that haven’t been seen for years. Science Fiction films, though, are not for everyone. Some people just love to have their blood curdle with fear. Thankfully, in 2012, Shout! Factory launched Scream Factory!
For the past year, Scream Factory has delivered time and time again. Halloween II, Halloween III, The Fog, Life Force, The Burning, From Beyond, and, next week, Q The Winged Serpent. I have had the privilege to review many of these titles and place them in my home library. The insanity doesn’t stop there as Day of The Dead (see details), Prince of Darkness (see details), and even Darkman (see details) are getting royal Blu-ray treatments. As this week’s releases are really nothing to get excited about, I thought I would jump ahead and give you a taste of what is to come. So, who is in the mood for a little Q The Winged Serpent? During the Summer of 1982, I was seven years old and far more interested in the adventures of Luke Skywalker than horror movies. I was just discovering cable and jumping into the world of repeat viewings. Last summer, Mania did a retrospective on the Summer of ’82 and featured Q The Winged Serpent (see review). I had long forgotten about the title from my days as a video store clerk. It’s a strange thing to touch a movie and know something about it, but never have watched it. I read Rob’s review and looked for the title on Netflix at the time. Alas, no luck. When Scream Factory announced they were going to release it, I knew my time had come.
It’s strange how the premise of film can sway you one way and the cast and crew can sway you another. Here is the premise for “Q”: “New York police are bemused by a spate of reports of a giant flying lizard that has been spotted around the rooftops of New York, which they assume to be bogus until the lizard starts to eat people. An out-of-work, ex-con piano player is the only person who knows the location of the monster's nest and is determined to turn the knowledge to his advantage, but will his gamble pay off or will he end up as lizard food?”. Does that sway you to sit down and spend time watching this flick? Me? Well, not so much. However, after reading that Larry Cohen, the director of It’s Alive and The Stuff directed this film as well, I was a tad more interested. Mix that with Shaft himself, Richard Roundtree and Bill from Kill Bill, the late, great David Carradine, and I’m in. See, movies not only interest me, but actors and their careers as well. Where were these two icons at that time in move history? On an upward swing or a downward one? Roundtree was working steadily, but hadn’t played Shaft in years. He was now appearing on the likes of CHiPs and The Love Boat. He was working, which is the best thing for anyone in his craft. Carradine’s career is all over the place. So this foray into horror was probably a good thing. His career seemed to regulate him to action flicks because of his Kung Fu background. Regardless, like Roundtree, the man was working.
What is so strange about Q The Winged Serpent (besides the villain/ creature and the fact that nobody in New York City sees it in broad daylight) is our main character. Cohen cast Michael Moriarty in the lead role of Jimmy Quinn. Moriarty was a regular of Cohen’s being in both the The Stuff and It’s Alive, but here he is totally miscast.
Despite being a criminal, he is still our window into this world. Don’t tell me that a film cannot have likable bad guys and have them still be our protagonists. Quentin Tarantino has made a career out of this. In this case, however, there is just nothing likable about Moriarty or his performance. He cheats on everything and can’t even land a job as piano player (his chosen profession). He is just terrible at everything. So when he plans on extorting money out of the city of New York, one has to wonder why we should root for this guy. The selling point for Q The Winged Serpent is David Carradine. It is his Detective Shepard that allows the audience into this fantastic tale. Carradine delivers heart and the mystery, thus saving this story about a giant winged serpent terrorizing New York.
The special effects are dated, a fact the Blu-ray highlights all the more with its high definition. In fact, if anything, this film reminds us of far better effects supplied by the likes of Ray Harryhausen years before. This is still a fun ride into the dark world of Aztec mysticism and a giant killer serpent. I think this film should be paired with The Manitou (1978). If only Scream Factory would give that one the royal treatment, as well.
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for August 20th, 2013
ACTION / ADVENTURE / KUNG FU/ THRILLERS / WESTERNS
Hunted Starring Dirk Bogarde, John Whiteley and Elizabeth Sellars
Manhunt Of Mystery Island Starring Linda Stirling, Roy Barcroft
They Called Him Amen Starring Sydne Rome Luc Merenda
High School DxD: The Series [Blu-ray] Starring Jamie Marchi, Scott Freeman and Teri Rogers
Legend of the Legendary Heroes: Complete Series [Blu-ray/DVD Combo] Starring Ian Sinclair, Luci Christian, Eric Vale
Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine (Bllu-ray/DVD Combo) [Blu-ray] Starring Sonny Strait, Christoper R. Sabat, Josh Grelle
Princess Knight, Part 1 (Litebox)
Tsuritama: Complete Collection
Betty Boop: The Essential Collection, Vol. 1 Starring Mae Questel, Bonnie Poe, Ann Little and Cab Calloway
Epic (Blu-ray / DVD + Digital Copy) Starring Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Amanda Seyfried
Epic (Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack) Starring Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Amanda Seyfried
Epic Starring Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Amanda Seyfried
There Goes the Bride Starring Jessie Matthews, Owen Nares and Carol Goodner
The Big City (Criterion Collection) Starring Madhabi Mukherjee, Anil Chatterjee and Jaya Bhaduri
Aegri Somnia [Blu-ray] Starring Tyhr Tubiak, Daryl Dorge and Ward Massner
Evidence Starring Stephen Moyer, Radha Mitchell, Caitlin Stasey
Pit And The Pendulum [Blu-ray] Starring Rona De Ricci, Jonathan Fuller, Jeffrey Combs, Tom Towels, Stephen Lee, Frances Bay, And Oliver Reed Lance Henriksen
Stricken BluRay Edition [Blu-ray] Starring David Fine, Brett Gipson and Stephanie French
Subspecies 3 Disc DVD Box Set
The Unseen [Blu-ray] (1981) Starring Barbara Bach, Stephen Furst, Sidney Lassick
Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season Starring Steve Buscemi, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon
The Good Wife: The Fourth Season
In Search Of... Season 3 Starring Leonard Nimoy
NCIS: Los Angeles - The Fourth Season
NCIS: The Complete Tenth Season
Parenthood: Season Four Starring Monica Potter, Peter Krause, Lauren Graham
Revenge: The Complete Second Season Starring Emily VanCamp, Madeleine Stowe, Gabriel Mann