Grunge auteur Larry Cohen dedicated his career to making the most insane films he could conceive on the lowest budget possible. Imagine John Waters if he was obsessed with gangsters, monsters and people exploding into white goo, rather than Transvestites and psychopaths. (Though come to think of it people exploding into white goo is an interest that they may very well share)
Q The Winged Serpent might be the apex of Cohen’s insane brand of exploitation cinema (And I only say “might” because the man also has The Stuff to his name). In Q a giant Pterodactyl like creature who might also be an Aztec God (We’ll get to that part later) terrorizes and devours half of early eighties New York. Showcasing his divine nature by snacking on nude sunbathers and biting the heads off of the annoying. Hot on the trail of the giant flying lizard are New York cops Keith Carradine and Richard Roundtree, but it’s small time hood Michael Moriarty who holds the key to taking it down, having stumbled upon its lair.
That’s right; Bill, Shaft, and er- Michael Moriarty team up to battle a giant flying lizard. Tell me thats not a good time at the movies.
The interesting thing about the film is that being shot so low to the ground it’s almost like there’s a secondary film going on in the background. Cohen and crew shot guerrilla style, without permission or permits, and the New York they capture in the background of the film, going about its giant flying lizard less day to day life is just as vivid and tactile as anything in the filmography of Ferrara or early Scorsese. Catching a street level view of New York at all social strata. From the gutters of Harlem to the patchwork busted up attic at the top of the Chrysler building.
As said the film was made somewhere beyond on the cheap, and as a result Q isn’t exactly going to blow anyone’s mind with its striking realism (though I believe anyone with even a little affection for the art of stop motion is going to have some kind of a soft spot for it that big ole ungainly creature), and long passages go by that are notably Giant Killer Pterodactyl thing free. Cohen fills the time with a subplot involving a cult dedicated to the giant killer Pterodactyl thing, complete with flaying, hearts being ripped out, and various musings on the theological implications of a giant monster creature. The whole subplot can best be described as unhinged. Which in all fairness is a pretty decent description of the film as a whole.