In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_10687421_10152289281917007_4858446204490388004_o

Private Violence

A look at the complexity of domestic violence, especially when it comes to the difficulty of prosecuting abusers in a court of law, "Private Violence"…

Thumb_large_fqswmulnnx3zirvlso5sxv9zcn

Rudderless

If this directorial outing was in any sense an audition for the talented Mr. Macy, he should be congratulated on passing it.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

Q

  |  

A few days after “Q” was screened at the Cannes Film Festival (under its original title, “The Winged Serpent”), the following conversation took place between Samuel Z. Arkoff, the film's producer, and Rex Reed, the critic: 

Reed: Sam! I just saw “The Winged Serpent”! What a surprise! All that dreck--and right in the middle of it, a great Method performance by Michael Moriarty!

Arkoff: The dreck was my idea.

I believe him. Arkoff has been producing films for thirty years now, and even if he was honored with a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, his heart still lies with shots of a giant flying lizard attacking a woman in a bikini on top of a Manhattan skyscraper. He's just that kinda guy. There are, in fact, several shots in “Q” that owe their ancestry to Sam Arkoff. I am aware, of course, that Larry Cohen gets credit for having written and directed this movie, but where would Cohen or any other director be without the rich heritage of a quarter-century of American-International Pictures made by Sam Arkoff? Here are examples of the shots I have in mind:

· The camera looks straight down at terrified citizens fleeing from a menace. They run crazily across the street. Some run away from the camera, some toward it, so that you can't tell for sure where the menace is, and the shot can be intercut with shots of a menace approaching from any direction. 
· The hero empties his machine gun into the giant serpent and turns away from a window to issue orders: "Everybody hold your positions!" Just then the serpent reappears behind him. 
· There are False Serpent Alarms in which people get hit from behind by toy birds, chairs, and their boyfriends. 
· David Carradine says, "He doesn't die easy." You get the idea. “Q” is another silly monster movie. But think how long it's been since we had another silly monster movie. There was a time during the golden age of Sam Arkoff's career when there were lots of monster movies. Remember, for example, “Attack of the Crab Monsters”, “Viking Women and the Sea Serpent”, “Creature from the Haunted Sea”, and “The Wasp Woman”. But in the last few years Creature Features have been replaced by Dead Teenager Movies, and instead of awful special effects of a monster going berserk, we get worse shots of a homicidal maniac going berserk. 

“Q” returns to the basic formula, in which a prehistoric creature terrorizes the city. In this case, the creature is a Quetzalcoatl, a mythical Aztec monster with wings and four claws. It apparently has been brought back into existence in connection with some shady human sacrifices at the Museum of Natural History (although this particular subplot is very muddled). It lives in a nest at the top of the Chrysler Building, lays eggs, and terrorizes helpless New Yorkers, who are not sure if this is a real monster or another crazy circulation stunt by Rupert Murdoch. 

Rex Reed was right, though, about the Method performance by Michael Moriarty. In the middle of this exploitation movie, there's Moriarty, rolling his eyes, improvising dialogue, and acting creepy. He's fun to watch, especially in the scene where he names his terms for leading the cops to the lizard. The cast also includes David Carradine, Richard Roundtree, and Candy Clark, good actors all, but you have to be awfully good not to be upstaged by the death throes of a dying Quetzalcoatl. 

Still to be answered: How did one Quetzalcoatl get pregnant?

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

NYFF 2014: Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice”

A review of Paul Thomas Anderson's "Inherent Vice" from the 2014 New York Film Festival.

Interview: Cary Elwes on the Lasting Power of “The Princess Bride”

An interview with Cary Elwes about "The Princess Bride."

"1941": An Appreciation and Interview with Bob Gale

An appreciation of "1941" and interview with Bob Gale.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus