Q: The Winged Serpent

There’s so much in this movie that I don’t know quite where to start.  Let’s start with the basics: worshipers of the ancient, Aztec god Quetzalcoatl , have been performing sacrifices and as a result have brought “Q” back to life.  Q is a 40-foot-long winged serpent that has set up shop in the Chrysler building and uses the New York skyline as her own buffet.  The NYPD had their hands full between investigating the ritual murders before heads, arms, and blood start raining from the sky.

Starring as our stalwart police detectives are none other than David “Kwai Chang Caine” Carradine and Richard “Shaft” Roundtree.  What’s more, they are playing pre-Giuliani New York police detectives, so not only are they jaded, not only are they underpaid and grouchy, but they (and the city as a whole) look completely rumpled and dirty.

Part of what makes this film-and the majority of director Larry Cohen’s pictures-so fascinating, is how Cohen presents ludicrous events and how something very closely resembling the real world would react to them.  There are no secret agents, clandestine government agencies, covert religious sects or chosen saviors in the film.  There is only an over-worked and incredulous police force.  There is a gigantic flying lizard literally picking people off of rooftops and all Carradine can do is research the ritual killings, interview history professors, and put together a theory that just happens to be correct, no matter how insane it appears.  When Carradine and company finally do track down Q, the assault on the bird feels more like a police raid than a climactic battle between man and the wrath of nature.  But, that is exactly what makes the film so interesting.  Well, that and Michael Moriarty.

Older readers will remember Moriarty as the original ADA on Law & Order back before Sam Waterson (my favorite of Jim Henson’s Muppets) took over.  Q began a long working relationship between he and Cohen which included The Stuff and Cohen’s episode of the Showtime's horror anthology series Masters of Horror: “Pick Me Up.” Moriarty plays Jimmy Quinn, the greatest asshole ever.  Mere words cannot do justice to hope thoroughly and exquisitely annoying Jimmy Quinn is.  You have to imagine the dread combination of Veruca Salt , Walter PeckEllis Carver, Carter Burke, Biff Tannen, and Chet Donnelly… exposed to gamma rays.  Quinn is a former addict/full-time loser who happens upon Q’s nest and uses the information to extort money from the city of New York.  Along the way, he will push every single button in your soul until you wish you were the man with knife at his throat.  I honestly do not know why Moriarty was not nominated for such a performance.

If that is not enough, be sure to keep an eye out for some of the greatest reaction shots from the cheapest New York local actors.  It’s a wonderful combination of bad acting and imitation Ray Harryhausen special effects.  And, remember, body parts falling from the sky!

Evil Toons

After the enthusiastic response to the screening of Idle Hands, Event 8 was picking up steam, with the crowd clamoring for more. Admittedly, I wasn’t prepared for a fourth movie that night. Fortunately an extensive DVD collection saved the day yet again with a copy of Evil Toons!

Any fan of crap-tastic cinema knows they’re in for a show with good ol’ Fred Olen Ray. Occasionally working as a “T&A specialist” for low-budget, direct-to-video flicks (as-in they hired him to inject more nudies), his ability to find excuses to have actresses strip down in movies is unparalleled, even by Paul Verhoeven. He’s made over a hundred movies, and what can I say? They're fun, if just for the simple fact that its easy to see that the guy loves what he’s doing.

Well, that and they are so. Incredibly. Dumb.

Take this particular picture, where 4 college girls (Madison StoneBarbara DareMonique Gabrielle, and Suzanne Ager) take a weekend job cleaning up a creepy mansion for a more than slightly pervy Dick Miller, only to have the ghost of “some guy” (David Carradine!) appear, give them a flesh-bound demon-book, which they promptly set down to read-thus unleashing the titular animated demon.

The fact that 3 out of 4 of the girls in the picture were either actively, or were about to start, working in the porn industry at the time the picture was made, is a pretty clear indication of where the movie’s gonna’ go. Before the bad-book even makes an appearance, four breasts already have. And when the demon-who for the record, is only seen in the picture in full animated form for about 39 seconds-initially attacks, it performs one of the funniest bits of sexual harassment ever committed to film, carefully yanking off the top of his intended victim in full view of the camera…with his tongue.

He then, conveniently for the budget, assumes her blood-covered-yet-still-topless form, and continues stalking the rest of his prey (who all also achieve various stages of undress before being eaten). Between all of this we get scenes of bad Three Stooges-style skits of varying lengths, and some daffy cameo-ish appearances by Arte Johnson as yet another pervy old guy. All-in-all, a fun-filled ride for the whole family!

Words cannot begin to describe how much this film warms the cockles of my heart. Not only that, it was a perfect closer to Event 8, with the crowd really getting into how bad it was, all while still appreciating the film’s…other qualities. If we’d stuck with the last two movies of the night, the Halloween event would easily have been remembered as one of the best.