Q, The Winged Serpent (1982)

I have long been obsessed with the mythological. I grew up feeding on fairytales thanks to Disney and the Brothers Grimm (both apart and together). Except most of what I was exposed to was the usual European fare that most white people in America are exposed to. That all changed in high school when my mythology world was opened up by a surprising source. I was excited about the release of Final Fantasy VIII and so were a lot of other people. I started to watch videos online of spoilers for the game. I was specifically obsessed with the summons in the game. The ability to pull a mythological beast out of thin air was amazing but one of the first summons in the game fascinated me. It was Quetzacoatl, who I learned in my Spanish classes was a hybrid of a snake and a bird and a god to the Aztec people. Aztec drawings had always looked too messy to me but the design that Square-Enix had come up with was beautiful.

I have long loved the combination of mythology and an urban setting. While I am obviously a huge fan of high fantasy, urban fantasy is what I most like to read. Horror is actually really fond of putting this kind of fiction out there. I think the appeal to me is that places I walked or drove by could be secretly hiding a monster or a coven of witches. It also makes monsters and non-human creatures more relatable while still keeping them amazing. The thugs in the alley are secretly trolls, a dragon is hiding in the subway by constantly avoiding the trains, the banks are secretly run by high elves. This was kind of the appeal of the second Predator movie. Instead of taking place somewhere in the woods, it took place in an entirely different ecosystem. Cities team with life the same as the jungle but with more politics and clearer social systems. It is fun to watch monsters interact with those systems.

The first thing I noticed was how much this movie is a blend of genres. This one is a blend of a crime story, a detective story, and a monster horror movie. The movie is, of course, about the afore-mentioned movie which is treated Jaws-Like with only fleeting glimpses. The creature’s impact is seen more than the creature itself which, unless you have dynamite effects, is really the way to go. Of course, eventually the monster has to appear and I really liked the look of it. In the early eighties, you are not going to have anything that looks too beautiful so you have to make some allowances. The monster is mostly depicted Clash of the Titans style and that works for me, especially something with that scale. One thing that really hit me was that I loved the camera work in this movie. There are some really interesting moving shots and angles that really made a lot of the scenes come alive when they could have been more flat. This movie also really has some brilliant shots that triggered my fear of heights.

The movie follows a small-time crook played by Michael Moriarty. I absolutely love the way he is depicted as the absolute opposite of an action hero. He’s flighty, weird, and absolutely anxiety incarnate. He is instantly likable as an oddball outcast. He is giving it his all in a B-Movie and it shows. The movie also follows two detectives played by David Carradine and Richard Roundtree. Carradine is the main focus but both of them get to crack wise and present a lot of the exposition to the viewer. The cast does a really good job of mixing in comedy, focusing on the situation being a ridiculous situation until it is proven correct. Carradine does a good job of grounding the movie while everybody else gets more comedic performances.

Overall, I really loved this movie. It has a lot of charm and it was a nice break from the scarier movies I’ve watched this year. I do not watch a lot of creature features and I had heard good things about this one. It definitely has some strong acting, especially Moriarty who is just giving it everything he has. I like the mix of human crime with monsters that the movie has as well.

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2 Responses to “Q, The Winged Serpent (1982)”

  1. rolandclarke Says:

    I enjoyed the movie a few times for many of the same reasons as you – mythology, urban fantasy, suggestive effects etc. I also watched many of David Carradine’s appearances on TV and in movies. And I met him when trying to cast a movie – never made; he was the antagonist. Quite a guy.

    As for Quetzacoatl, I have been fascinated by Meso-American mythology for decades. The Feathered Serpent was always the deity to inspire me. So much so that our Cavachon dog is called Quetzal – in part because of the bird, also a game my wife played, but also from Quetzacoatl.

    Like

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