Larry Cohen’s love-letter to the creature feature, Q: The Winged Serpent may not be for everyone. Released theatrically in 1982, the film contains just the right amounts of campy humor, low-budget gore, stop-motion creature effects, with a few scares thrown in for good measure.
Studio: Shout! Factory
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
Run Time: 1 Hr. 32 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Disc Type: BD25 (single layer)
Release Date: 08/27/2013
Michael Moriarty (NBC’s Law & Order) stars as Jimmy Quinn, a fast-talking and down on his luck ex-con who gets involved in a jewelry store heist that leads him to the discovery of a mythical winged creature attacking citizens from atop Manhattan skyscrapers. David Carradine is Shepard, the New York detective investigating a series of gruesome sacrificial killings that ultimately lead to the same winged creature. When their paths finally cross, Jimmy makes the city an offer they can’t refuse: $1 million in exchange for the location of the creature’s nest (atop the Chrysler Building). Richard Roundtree (Shaft) plays Shepard’s partner, and Candy Clark (American Graffiti) plays Jimmy’s girlfriend.
The Production Rating: 3.5/5
Writer-director Larry Cohen (The Stuff, It’s Alive) somehow managed to put this movie together in a matter of weeks after being fired from the much bigger-budgeted I, the Jury, convincing former American-International Pictures executive Samuel Arkoff to put up just over $1 million to finance it (still a small sum even by 1982 standards). What is surprising is, even without taking that into consideration, Q: The Winged Serpent works as a fun little monster movie. Moriarty steals the show with his rather wacked-out performance (L & O fans would find it hard to believe this is the same actor who played the very serious ADA Ben Stone), and the early effects work by David Allen (Young Sherlock Holmes), Randall Cook (Lord of the Rings), and Peter Kuran (Men In Black) still hold up reasonably well.
Q: The Winged Serpent has been released on various formats by various studios over the years (VHS/Beta/Laserdisc: MCA/Universal, DVD: Anchor Bay and Blue Underground), all of them looking a bit washed out. The 1080p transfer provided to Shout! Factory is very likely the best this independent film will ever look. Compressed using the AVC codec, the transfer approximates the film’s intended aspect ratio of 1.85:1 by slightly opening the top and bottom of the frame to 1.78:1. The low budget nature of the film is apparent in the overall softness and muted colors in the image, yet there is a consistency throughout. Grain is left intact and is never an issue.
Video Rating: 3/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo track is a slight improvement over the original mono soundtrack. Music is spread across all channels (when played back in Pro-Logic mode), and there are a few panning effects. Dialogue is driven to the center channel, and for the most part is intelligible. However, there are a few sections where sound levels are a bit inconsistent, and at times slightly distorted. Like the video, much of this can be chalked up to the source material.
Audio Rating: 3/5
Audio Commentary by Writer/Producer/Director Larry Cohen: Cohen discusses this film at great length, speaking almost non-stop for the film’s entire 92 minute running time, praising Moriarty’s performance, casting David Carradine, shooting at the top of the Chrysler building, and some possible alternate casting choices (Bruce Willis and Eddie Murphy!).
Special Features Rating: 3/5
Theatrical Trailer (HD; 2:32): Apparently sourced and upconverted from an old VHS or Beta, the trailer has some major issues with dropped frames and interpolation, and the image is washed out.
Teaser Trailer (HD; 0:33): The teaser doesn’t fare much better, appearing in an extremely soft and overly cropped (at approx. 2:1) transfer.
Fans of Larry Cohen’s campy monster flick will likely be thrilled to finally have this on Blu-ray, along with a very interesting commentary track from the film’s creator.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewed By: Todd Erwin
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