Revisiting The Last Drive-In: Q: The Winged Serpent and Society

The Last Drive-In’s second episode featured a serpent on the loose and a revolting trip into excess. Of course, 25YL’s horror team had a lot to say about this double bill. Members of 25YL’s horror team(Valerie Thompson, Steve Wandling, Holiday Godfrey, Will Johnson, and D. Aaron Schweighardt) assembled for this week’s discussion. 

Valerie: This week the last drive-in featured Q: The Winged Serpent and Society. Let’s jump into the first film. Joe Bob revealed Q would be shown; it was interesting to see that he stayed with his previously taped material about Larry Cohen.

Will: It did make the moment where he said “if Cohen keeps making movies after 2020” a bit sad though.

Valerie: Very much so Will.

Steve: It made sense to me. I thought his little Instagram video was all the tribute needed aside from showcasing Cohen’s work. I’ll say bold. I thought it was predictably bold but Q: The Winged Serpent is the kind of independent cinema that is just sorely missing in America today. It’s free wheeling, insane, on the cusp, by the seat of your pants madness. Love it.

Will: Shunting … oh, shoot. Too early sorry. Excited.

Valerie: Guys! No early shunting. Now, back to Q

Aaron: That was only the third movie Larry Cohen directed that I had seen. My memories of Return to Salem’s Lot are vague but pretty “meh”, besides having random appearances by Ronee Blakely (A Nightmare on Elm Street, or Nashville if NOES is “beneath” you), Ron Millkie (“Officer Dorf” in Friday the 13th) and Tara Reid (American Pie, Urban Legend, the Sharknado franchise). I really enjoyed The Stuff but it was nice that a Larry Cohen tribute happened to coincide so shortly after his death..

Valerie: If nothing else, I found the host segments to be even more of a tribute to Cohen than any in-memorium segment could be.

Aaron: I had never seen either movie this week before, so that’s something. Though I kind of want to bow out this week. I feel like I’m gonna be the downer.

Steve: I agree Valerie. I find Cohen to be an extremely interesting filmmaker. You just cannot get away with the kinds of things he did anymore. It was a different, freer, more artistic driven time. There was a wild west feel to filmmaking, within and without the studio system, that is just totally gone today.

Valerie: Larry Cohen was one-of-a-kind. His work speaks for itself.

Will: I never had much of an opinion on David Carradine before but I found him really charming and fun in Q. I’m not an expert in his filmography … are there more movies like that that’s he’s done where he is kind of breezy and sarcastic?

Valerie: Lot’s of discoveries this week.

Will: Also, who thinks that was the real Michael Moriarty and not a “character”?

Steve: I LOVE David Carradine.

Aaron: So Joe Bob Briggs didn’t really like C.H.U.D. I get that but yet he loves Q, the Winged Serpent. I don’t get that. I thought both were about equal, as far as my enjoyment level. I mean no respect to either Joe Bob or Larry Cohen, but I personally thought it was a real snoozefest. Joe Bob made it sound much more interesting than I thought it was.

Steve: That’s definitely the real Michael Moriarty to an extent. Just ask NBC why he isn’t on Law and Order anymore.

Valerie: Would you be willing to check out any his other filmography based on Q and The Stuff Aaron?

Steve: It’s Alive is a classic.

Aaron: I would based on The Stuff. I still need to see the It’s Alive series.

Will: I got to side with Steve The pure audacity of the shot selection and plot progression in Q is some of the wild-west nature I miss in movies. Very few pull it off now … Taika Waititi maybe?

Valerie: When I spoke to Joe Bob this week, we spoke a bit about Cohen and Q. I can see where the admiration comes from, but I can also understand your point of view on this.

Steve: Definitely Waititi. I also really appreciate the Harryhausen love letter that is the actual winged serpent.

Will: I don’t who I have to shunt to get a movie like Q made these days … yes, it drags in parts but it just feels so alive and wild

Valerie: I adore what Waititi is doing. Would love to have known what Cohen thought of today’s filmmakers.

Aaron: I will say that I loved the fake kite attack of Richard Roundtree before his real attack. And some of the other Q attacks in the finale. And the pointless undercover mime was hilarious! I also loved the camera shots flying through NYC, though it must’ve been a much simpler time in NYC for a giant winged serpent to go unnoticed.

Steve: It was. We’re talking pre-Giuliani.

Will: The helicopter work and likely dangerous, semi-pro stunt work was superb.

Valerie: The stories of Cohen filming Q are legendary. Can you imagine being an actor asked to climb to the top of the Chrysler Building?

Steve: Can you imagine being on the ground below when live rounds were being fired?

Aaron: Did anyone else find the whole subplot of the guy making human sacrifices to the gods to be unnecessary? Even though it was giving me Blood Feast flashbacks, which I believe Holiday was also experiencing, right?

Holiday: How dare you.

Will: Yes, major Blood Feast vibes

Holiday: Yes, hardcore.

Valerie: There are a lot of subplots going on here Aaron, so nothing surprised me.

Will: And I’m not ashamed to say … none of it made sense to me and, well, I don’t care!

Holiday: But when he threw the ceremonial headdress at the inspector, I lost it.

Steve: I just want to take this time to copyright my #moriartyfeverdream live tweet.

Aaron: Can we get back to Michael Moriarty actually?

Valerie: Yes, Aaron.

Aaron: Is there anytime Moriarty DOESN’T ham it up? And I personally just felt they chose the wrong lead actor for the wrong lead character.

Valerie: I have to disagree with you Aaron. That “ham” is just what the story needed. It’s a Cohen film after all; the very nature of his films thrive on performances like that.

Steve: Well I don’t think he’s hamming it up. I think he’s a livewire with….certain similar affectations that I have for substances and abusing the shit out of them. It’s more gonzo than ham to me

Aaron: And his character is delusional. Delusional in thinking he could make a living as a piano player (though I love when the bartender turns him down by turning the jukebox UP). Delusional in thinking he’s somebody for witnessing the winged serpent. Delusional in his conditions from the city, feeling he’s owed something (such s a “Nixon-style pardon).

Valerie: I feel like there’s a bit of pork there Steve, especially against Carradine’s quiet demeanor.

Will: It is definitely a character choice because he’s motivations are remarkably consistent throughout the film … it isn’t just crazy for crazy sake.

Aaron: Consistent but absurd.

Steve: No, I don’t think he’s crazy. Can’t think of the best way to put it. I mean I do think Moriarty is a crazy man…that’s not whhat…ah shit. nevermind.

Valerie: I took it as he was once a good piano player swamped by addictions.

Steve: Yeah, that’s how I thought I was supposed to take it.

Aaron: Well, he certainly isn’t anymore.

Will: Without doubt … but he’s a prideful junkie with his own twisted moral code, so it is inherently, maybe even genetically, absurd

Holiday: Having spent a decent amount of time around ex-junkies, I thought he did a pretty great job of portraying that manic and sometimes narcissistic personality they take on after having been on drugs for so long.

Steve: I’m not commenting as a heroin addict I reserve the right to stay out of conversations about addiction like a creepy little fly in the room eating popcorn and that you can print.

Holiday: Then again I might just know some really annoying people with past drug problems.

Steve: We’re all pretty annoying.

Aaron: And when Candy Clark (years after American Graffiti, this was more Amityville 3D or Cat’s Eye-era Candy Clark) says “why do I stay with a dumb ex-junkie?” I’m TOTALLY with her, except that she stays with him far longer than that. That’s not such a comment on the ex-junkie part. Yes, it’s good he’s gotten clean in some aspects, but he’s still a drunk, a failed musician, probably insane, definitely delusional, AND a wife beater.

Steve: BUT we’re not all Michael Moriarty. Is he clean though?

Aaron: I took that to mean from drugs.

Steve: Pretty sure I felt he was on drugs. I don’t know. we don’t ever see him using do we?

Aaron: Not including alcohol. Well, I do know people who had a past DEEP history of drugs who are now clean that do still act a bit erratic.

Will: See, this is why Michael Moriarty was a great choice because we are actually talking about his character in a movie with a flying serpent that decapitates sun tanning naked ladies in the middle of the afternoon in NYC.

Valerie: Will hits the nail on the head with this one.

Steve: I know I agree Will. I think that’s why I love Q is Michael Moriarty’s performance mixed with Cohen’s direction. We are also erratic Aaron, that’s putting it kind sir

Aaron: It is a little amusing when he has multiple breakdowns around Candy Clark. “I stink, and I just want to cry…No, but I’m supposed to be a man.” But when Moriarty is running from the goons (one of whom I was sad to learn WASN’T Dennis Farina), I kind of wanted him to be Final Destination 2-ed. And what is with that drunken crooning in that scene?!

Will: This movie makes me want to go visit the Chrysler building. I’ve been to NYC a billion times but never went there

Steve: Don’t go up there Will! Q is waiting!

Will: Take me Q … I AWAIT THE SHUNTIN … er … wait …

Steve: Everyone is always so excited to get to the shunt. factsnotfeelings

Will: Yes, I loved Q but can we get to the mothershunting shunting already?

Valerie: In good time guys! Much like Society, you’ll just have to wait.

Steve: grrrrr. okay. ahem. I’m fine

Will: Tease

Aaron: Just a sec guys.

Valerie: Jumping back into Q for a moment, what did everyone think of those effects? I personally loved the shots that I affectionately called “serpent cam.” They saved the filmmaker from added shots of the serpent without minimizing its appearances in the film.

Steve: LOVED THEM! Ray Harryhausen would be happy.

Valerie: I was thinking that too Steve.

Aaron: If you mean the POV shots that were assumedly done by helicopter, I did already mentioned I loved those.

Will: I always respect practical effects. Even if it looks “fake”, there is still a realism to actual, three-dimensional objects that intrigues me.

Steve: I’m a sucker for practical and stop motion. Anything pre CGI effects driven I applaud. And what the whole budget was 1.3 Million?

Aaron: The Q attacks were fun, and I do admit I love practical and despise CGI, but I apply that more with makeup effects.

Valerie: Absolutely! We have lots of love for Harryhausen!

Will: I don’t mind a merging of CGI/practical effects but it seems those are harder to come by these days … Lord of the Rings might be the last true merging of fantastic practical effects with burgeoning CGI. Every now and then we get a Mad Max: Fury Road but the days of Q are long gone, sadly

Steve: Mad Max: Fury Road. Now there’s a damn good film.

Valerie: It’s a shame Will. I wish there were more practical effects now.

Aaron: What do you call that kind of style of effects again? The Harryhausen kind?

Will: Stop motion. I believe

Steve: Stop motion

Will: Basket Case has some fantastic stop motion …

Aaron: I like the stop motion animation that Wes Anderson has done. The Harryhausen kind…well, can we move on?

Valerie: It does Will!

Steve: it was actually a form of stop motion animation he himself created called dynamation
thought that was an interesting factoid. Wow, dude. Wow. That’s….Have you seen any Harryhausen films?

Steve: You can move on sir, but the world has not.

Will: Harryhausen is the reason I love skeletons

Steve: Yes indeed!

Aaron: What was that one with Medusa? Wasn’t that him? Was that Excalibur or something else.

Steve: Clash of the Titans!!!

Aaron: That’s it. Hmm.

Steve: Oh man. Someone change the subject. Please

Aaron: Please.

Will: Clash of the Titans, the original vs. the remake … a perfect example of why practical is better than optical.

Aaron:  I want neither Clash of the Titans.

Valerie: On to the moment we’ve all be waiting for… Let’s talk about Society.

Will: Oh shoot … this never happens to me I swear … but I don’t think I can shunt right now

Steve: Well, it’s Brian Yuzna at his slimiest AND sexiest so you really can’t go wrong.

Will: Whiskey Shunt.

Aaron: Well, I had never heard of Society before Steve mentioned it last week.

Steve: That was weird and timely.

Aaron: I was in fear because we previously established I’m not a fan of Brian Yuzna, and I’m also not a fan of “body horror”. Not that I can’t take it, it’s just not the type of horror I enjoy.

Will: I don’t want to be the 25 Years Later perv or purveyor of the male gaze but Society might have the most gorgeous collection of horror hotties ever … it is seriously up there. And I’m INCLUDING the hair eating mom. rawwwrrrr

Steve: But I think it’s a fun slow burning little fuck you to the major studio system from Mr Yuzna. It straddles that line of black comedy, social satire, and gross-out horror. It’s taboo as fuck: you’ve got incest, tits growing out of back, screaming mad George’s effect work, Reaganite rich asshole dads. LITERAL rich Reaganite asshole dads!! Sign me up please. Just take my money. I agree Will
and if you won’t be the 25YL resident pervert I will.

Aaron: For what it’s worth, I will say it might be my favorite of the films Brian Yuzna has directed that I’ve seen, though that still isn’t meant to be a glowing endorsement. I was somewhat amused by the satire on teenage isolation and “absorbing” or perhaps being “absorbed by” high society.

Valerie: Should we just skip the small talk and get to the ending? We’re going to have a lot to say about that.

Steve: There ya go Aaron. I’m glad you found something you liked in it. Well, it’s a big buildup and then a release soo….Hi mom!

Aaron: It was the more amusing film of the two, but it still barely misses recommendable status for me.

Steve: The effects work is amazing and the internship in Washington is hilarious. I just can’t stop laughing watching the shunt. It’s purposefully and effectively disgusting. But it’s easy to laugh at rich assholes. They’re both “don’t miss” from me.

Aaron: The shunting basically felt like the orgy equivalent of a Dawn or Day of the Dead dismemberment scene to me.

Will: No Val, I just want to talk about Devin DeVasquez some more … god, that woman is a goddess. Prince has great taste but Yuzna really gave her some fantastic close-ups and reveals. The camera loves her. Also, Patrice Jennings as the sister. Never did much but she was perfectly cast and made me feel kind of guilty for thinking she was hot. But that’s what Society does. It kind of makes you feel dirty and guilty

Aaron: And on the flipside, Billy Warlock is quite the handsome devil. Even though he had a total John Stamos vibe going. I know Josh Lami would agree on that last part.

Steve: She is an absolute goddess. Yes yes yes and yes Will. Move over ladies. men are here and we’re not staying quiet any….oh wait. wait. Nevermind again.

Valerie: Not much eye candy for the ladies. Just saying…

Steve: Too much mullet for one man for me. Is there any?

Aaron: Almost-naked Billy Warlock didn’t do it for ya Valerie?

Will: I did hear from what I was assuming was the gay horror community that the film had a lot of hot guys too … I would say, outside of the shunting, the movie is kind of sexy.

Aaron: Mullet aside I mean

Steve: I think it’s sexy, I just don’t think those guys are attractive.

Will: Read some trivia that Mr Warlock does not like his butt and actually asked for his butt reveal to be cut.

Aaron: Sad face.

Valerie: Well this straight woman didn’t find much there Will. Just my opinion. Everyone’s entitled to their own about this one.

Will: None of them were Paul Rudd or Chris Pine (my man-crushes) so … agreed! I asked to talk about the Shunting all day and now I’m just talking about Billy Warlock’s butt

Valerie: I know Will! Where is everyone’s enthusiasm for shunting?!

Aaron: I was glad Joe Bob called out that he’s Dick Warlock’s son. Dick Warlock, who did stunts on a lot of horror movies, and played Michael Myers in Halloween 2. And one of the nicest guys on the planet. There are a few people I wanted to shout out. Also Heidi Kozak as Billy’s boyfriend Shauna (which made me think of the singing in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off any time they said her name), who was in Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood and Slumber Party Massacre II. And David Wiley as Judge Carter. I didn’t recognize him by look, but that name stood out, and after I looked him up I realize he played crazy old man Abel in Friday the 13th Part III.

Steve: I’m still tired from Friday night’s shunting.

Will: I would pay good money to see the MPAA screening room during the shunting. Like … how did they even determine how to rate that?


Valerie: I shunt, therefore I am.

Steve: I am, therefore I shunt.

Valerie: I have to say, above the shunting, seeing someone’s body pulled from the inside out was a refreshing moment. You don’t see that every day.

Will: Carpe Shunt? Yes, I also like that they didn’t just have the “hot” people in the shunting … they let everyone shunt

Aaron: Sorry, I was editing my earlier comment about the people I recognized. Let me review my shunting notes.

Steve: Yeah, shunting is just something you’re born into.

Valerie: We actually have shunting notes for this week’s roundtable!

Will: Also guys … Turd Ferguson

Steve: I try to take shunting notes with me everywhere I go

Will: Turd “The Tycoon” Ferguson, my apologies

Aaron: I like how Milo and Clarissa’s mom try to get into the shunting only to be told it’s members only. Guys, don’t you know that if you want to get into an 80s “members only” (shunting) party, you gotta have the jacket?!

Steve: It’s true. Not everyone is welcome to the shunt. We have to have someone to feed off of.

Aaron: Please tell me others know of the Members Only jackets from the 80s, so I didn’t waste that punchline.

Steve: I do.

Valerie: It was the ’80s, shunting was not for beginners.

Steve: Shunting was for people who voted for Reagan.

Aaron: Also, anyone notice how shunting turned the fake therapist into the Joker?!t really put a SMILE on that face!

Steve: Put a shunt on it.

Will: But that was old money shunting. Kids these days, with their internet startups and their all-encompassing new money shunting … disgusting

Steve: It’s shameful. Shunting used to mean something in this country. Make Shunting Great Again.

Will: Seriously, I had to drill oil fields to earn my shunt … now, kids create a shunting app and they shunt in public!

Steve: Daniel Plainview shunts? But of course he does.

Will: Who killed John Shunt?

Aaron: Going back to Clarissa’s mom, I like the scene where she barges in on Billy and Clarissa making out, holding a braid of hair and making deep masculine grunting noises while in the process of coughing up a hairball. Billy, I know you’re just being polite, but it has already been made clear you should NOT shake her hand!

Valerie: Quite a bit of hairballs in this film!

Steve: Is that from her eating innocent teens?

Aaron: I have no idea what that lady was doing. We need a whole other film just about her.

Will: Just like Society, this roundtable devolved really quickly.

Aaron: Also, how about those drive-in totals for this film. “Incest Fu. Double Incest Fu. Double-Reverse Incest Fu.” Which made me think, how many horror films are out there that deal so blatantly with incest? I can think of Amityville 2: The Possession and Sleepwalkers.

Steve: There’s more than you probably want to know about Aaron.

Valerie: A Serbian Film comes to mind Aaron.

Aaron: HORROR films?

Steve: Oh yeah.

Will: A lot of French films.

Steve: Several.

Valerie: You don’t consider A Serbian Film as horror?

Steve: Whether anyone does or not it is.

Aaron: Haven’t heard of it. I thought you were saying that was the country of origin.

Steve: It is. So, he’s not wrong. He’s quite correct in fact

Will: Oh man … Aaron is due for a rude awakening.

Valerie: Oh no. Sorry. I was speaking of the specific film.

Steve: Oh boy.

Aaron: Can someone else throw something else out there so we don’t end this on incest? Though I do acknowledge I’m at fault for this.

Steve: I’m going to send him some really disturbing stuff. Nah I think that does it. Families fucking. Sounds good to me.

Will: If Society has the class to end on incest, so do we

Aaron: If you have any complaints, please direct them to our boss Andrew.

Valerie: And that about does it folks…

Steve: That’s all folks!

Join the team every week for our breakdown of The Last Drive-In and follow us on Twitter as we live tweet during each new episode!

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Written by Valerie Thompson

Valerie Thompson is Managing Editor of 25YL Horror. She has worked on projects for Netflix, CBS, A&E, PBS, Showtime, Cinemax, and Warner Bros. Pictures.

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