Tuesday, December 04, 2007

 

Serpent, Winged

posted by Corey Reid


"First, Shaft is a sex machine for ALL the chicks. He didn't fall for no Five-Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique, neither."
I remember (vaguely) when Q, The Winged Serpent came out. 1982, that was -- same year Knight Rider first aired. 1982 was a rough year. Apparently Conan the Barbarian and Joust stole all the "cool" in the world that year and so unfortunate second-raters like Q, The Winged Serpent had to make do with other qualities. Like "long". Or "set in New York".

IMDB's "Plot Keywords" list does a reasonable job of summing up this odd little picture, including as it does Giant Monster, Human Sacrifice, Decapitation, Female Nudity, Police, Blood, the Chrysler Building New York, Death, and Gore, but strangely there is no mention of either SHAFT or MIME.

See, while it's nominally a monster movie, and indeed several minutes of the film are devoted to a monster devouring assorted New Yorkers, after one hour and fifteen minutes, the audience is suddenly confronted with a MIME. Observe:



That is clearly a MIME in a car with SHAFT.

I know, you're startled. Maybe you didn't expect to see a MIME in a car with SHAFT. I don't blame you. But do not doubt your senses. Here it is again:



Notice how the MIME is ACTUALLY ACTING. He's looking over at SHAFT with that "curious" expression that lets you know the director told him to look curious. I tell you, actors are a rare funny breed.

What lies is that actor telling himself in order to go through with this scene? How is he structuring this in his imagination so that he believes he'll be able to get another part on the basis of this performance? And what is the director thinking? Most likely, I imagine, how he's going to spend the money he just won after betting Richard Roundtree he could get that new kid to dress up as a MIME.

Whoever that MIME is, I sure hope he has this blown up to poster size on his bedroom wall:



Words fail me.

Fortunately, ten minutes after he appears, the MIME vanishes from the script, never to be seen again. His presence is not explained (other than the fact that it's 1982 and Knight Rider is the most popular new show on television. We all share the blame for the 80's).

Perhaps you find it strange I begin a discussion of one of the last true B-grade giant monster movies with several hundred words on the subject of a mime, but it was scarring, I tell you. A man doesn't just walk away from something like that. It haunts him.

Oh, yeah, there's a monster in this picture. As these things go, it's by no means a terrible monster -- the design isn't much (it kind of resembles a winged prehensile penis), but it kills people bloodily and SCREEEES with gusto.

But really it's all the secondary weirdness that really makes this film. Michael Moriarity's bizarre performance as the cowardly wheelman who confronts the beast in its lair, and David Carradine going "Phew!" everytime they make another narrow escape (I'm not kidding, the guy literally says, "Phew!" like he's reading some 1950's Batman and Robin dialogue), combined with Roundtree's angry cop makes you wonder if all three of these guys think they're in different movies.

Or this guy:



Okay, you might have believed me about the MIME, but I know you're going to doubt me about this, but honestly. This dude pops up into the frame next to the sacrifical victim, looks down at the naked guy he's about to gut and says

Seriously, I'm not kidding about this. He says

God's Honest Truth, here, people. ACTUAL dialogue, here. Not a word of a lie. This dude says

"How are you?"


Man. I thought the dialogue in Live Free or Die Hard was uninspired. Again, what the heck is going through this actor's head? Because you know he's got himself convinced that THIS is the part. He's going to put that on his reel. He'll talk it up at his next audition. I'd love to hear that story.

But that's not all, folks. There's also the blonde doing push-ups:



1982 was a tough year for actors, obviously. That girl's really givin' her, though. You gotta award some points for grit.

Still, even in 1982 actors had their limits. Apparently there was a rumour that a sequel would be made:



Fortunately, it never came to that.

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Comments:
What a brilliant way to start the day. Thanks, Core.
 

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