They Call Me Quetzalcoatl

Friday Midnight Movie, ‘Q: The Winged Serpent’ (1982)

Q, the huge yellow chicken prowling for rooftop hunnies

What a film to start your midnight movie watching with, fantastically peculiar on every conceivable level, genuinely funny (intentional? You decide), and a great genre creature. This film is the laugh-out-loud express train. That’s not to say you’re laughing at it, but its genuine eccentricity is a joy to behold.

Plot wise you have a bodged store robbery (a Jewellery store called Neil Diamonds! Yes!) culminating in one of the thieves (Michael Moriarty) hiding out in the roof of the Chrysler Building (for no conceivable reason at all) where he bumps into a yellow skinned Aztec giant serpent bird. Meanwhile said resurrected bird (some kind of subplot involving sadistic Aztec New Yorkers or something) fabulously picks off poor old Manhattan roof dwellers. Watch in awe as they think up ways to get people on roofs and the ingenious reasoning for why the monster is never seen even though it only attacks in broad daylight. Brilliant.

But the monstrous featherless cirrhosis suffering bird isn’t the predominant reason for recommending this, it’s the outrageous cast performances that make this film a Deadly Movies hit, lead in spectacular fashion by the absolutely barmy Michael Moriarty who ambles his way through the script and delivers an adlibbed virtuoso performance worthy of Crispin Glover on a crack bender. Moriarty staggers blindly along the narrative like a drunk swinging a bucket of toads. Surrounded by a supporting cast who are equally clueless, including the spectacularly misplaced casting of Malachy McCourt as the Police Commissioner who’s rough tough lines are delivered with a camp sparkle akin to Kenneth Williams on a banana cruise.

An utterly charming creature feature, made on the fly by Larry Cohen that makes the most of the Chrysler Building, a beautiful piece of architecture often overshadowed in movies by its big brother the Empire State Building . In the words of Michael Moriarty ‘Stick it…, Stick up your brain. Your tiny little brain!’

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