Q The Winged Serpent

Starring: Michael Moriarty, David Carradine and Richard Roundtree
Anchor Bay Entertainment UK
RRP: 16.99
Certificate: 15
Available 20 June 2005

Jimmy Quinn (Michael Moriarty) is a small-time crook who gets mixed-up with two unsavoury characters. They threaten him into taking part in an armed robbery. Whilst the others are caught Jimmy escapes with the cash, only to lose it under a truck after an accident. Guessing that the gang will give his name to the police, he flees and finally takes refuge in the uppermost roof pinnacle of the Chrysler Building (like you do). Here he finds a dead body, but instead of screaming and getting the hell out (as his cowardly portrayal would surely do) he climbs the ladder into the cone itself. Inside, he discovers a nest with what looks like a large egg. Meanwhile Detective Shepard (David Carradine) is investigating a series of mutilated bodies. When too many witnesses to ignore report having seen a giant bird, Jimmy soon realises he has bargaining power with the police. His long-suffering girlfriend and Shepard try to persuade him to do the right thing, but Jimmy has to learn the hard way that not everything is about him...

Q The Winged Serpent is a monster movie from the '80s which is still fondly remembered by some people. It comes from writer, producer and director Larry Cohen, who was also responsible (yes, that is the right word) for the It's Alive Trilogy. Just like those films this seems to be based in some strange unreality. Yes, it's about a giant man-eating bird that might be a god, but any supernatural subject should be set in a solid natural environment to work properly, and sadly this falls short in that respect.

I suppose the makers should be commended for attempting a giant bird on the big screen, but when seen in full the creation just made me cringe and pretend I hadn't noticed. Much more effective were the aerial shots, the shadows on passing skyscrapers and the super-fast glimpses as the bird attacked. Clash of the Titans, released around this time, was much more successful with its fantasy creations. Possibly it was due to the increased number of stop-motion and special effects dropped into a Greece of myths and legends.

Typecasting is alive and well, too. Even now, I can't watch David Carradine without thinking of his Grasshopper character from the seventies series Kung Fu. The Kill Bill films has made that situation worse rather than better, because in them he uses a multitude of martial arts!

The extras on the DVD at first glance seem better than they are. A commentary is only joined by two trailers, biographies & film notes, a gallery and Q Memorabilia via DVD ROM content.

In short, Q The Winged Serpent isn't quite good enough that I would recommend you get out of bed to buy it, and it isn't quite bad enough that you can enjoy it as a B-Movie. It floats somewhere in between. A sort of flying turkey.

Ty Power

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