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Dustin Putman



Dustin's Blu-ray Review
Q: The Winged Serpent  (1982)

The Film
2.5 Stars
(Release date: August 27, 2013) - Larry Cohen's monster movie throwback, "Q: The Winged Serpent," probably will work better for nostalgia-seekers who remember seeing the film when it was released in 1982 or watching it on VHS soon thereafter. A spate of gruesome murders are bewildering New York City police, media and residents, and ne'er-do-well ex-con piano man Jimmy Quinn (Michael Moriarty) thinks he knows who the culprit is: a giant prehistoric lizard with unhatched eggs laying in wait near the top of the Chrysler Building. The effects work, a myriad mix of stop-motion and opticals, is obviously out of date, but there's a certain charm to its Harryhausen-inspired FX. There also are some memorable kills (the ill-fated window washer has been ingrained in my memory since childhood) and terrific aerial shooting around Manhattan. Unfortunately, in between the horrific monster material is a lot of talky downtime that hurts the movie's pacing. Seeing it with adult eyes in 2013, "Q: The Winged Serpent" is wildly uneven, but its oddball, darkly comic ode to '50s creature features makes it something of an early-'80s novelty.

Blu-ray Picture/Sound
 B-/B

Picture-wise, Scream Factory's Blu-ray release of "Q: The Winged Serpent" is hit-and-miss. The image contains a nice layer of natural grain and the source material appears to be in fairly good condition. The shots involving effects and stock city footage, however, often breed lower quality—the cost of using opticals and lesser film stock from that time period. Though the film has not been extensively remastered, its transference to high-definition does bring additional clarity to the picture, along with occasional but mostly unobtrusive dirt and speckles. The 2.0 lossless mono audio track is very good and accurate to source. The music, the creature sound effects, even the streaks from the window washer's squeegee all sound just about as solid as they ever have. Since this is a 31-year-old low-budget movie, one cannot reasonably expect the aural side of the equation to sound as impressive as a brand-new release, and it doesn't.

Blu-ray Features
New audio commentary with director Larry Cohen; Theatrical trailer (HD) and teaser trailer (HD). Curiously, on both the side and back of the Blu-ray cover, the Shout Factory logo has not been properly swapped out for the correct Scream Factory logo. Rest assured, it is a Scream Factory release, but the proofreader(s) in charge of giving the cover the once-over dropped the ball on this and didn't catch the error before the title went to print.

Bottom Line
"Q: The Winged Serpent" is a product of its time—and glaringly so—but bless Scream Factory for taking such good care of an underground cult title that may have never come to glorious high-definition if not for a studio like Scream Factory caring about genre fare and its many rabid fans. Consumers who pick up this disc should probably know what they're in for before purchasing it, but for fans there is not much to complain about. It looks and sounds fairly swell, and comes with a very funny audio commentary with a tell-it-like-it-is Larry Cohen. The Blu-ray release of "Q: The Winged Serpent" is recommended for anyone with a soft spot for movies about monsters ripping the heads off construction workers and sunbathers. You know who you are.

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© 2013 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman