Tuesday, November 26, 2013


It's Thanksgiving week in America and that means it's time for us to gather with loved ones to reflect upon our collective good fortune and express our gratitude for the bountifulness of life. Ah, who the hell are we kidding? This is the time of year when we gorge ourselves to excesses that make our typically voracious daily eating habits seem downright ascetic while deluding ourselves with tales of some wildly mythologized event when the indigenous people of this land - who we more or less decimated - shared corn and, if the window painting above is accurate (and I'm pretty sure it is), taught us how to choke our proverbial chickens (or turkeys or whatever). What better way to augment your super-sized menu planning than with a super-sized creature double feature on gloriously archaic 35mm film??? That's right. TONIGHT...for one night only...Portland Grindhouse presents Larry Cohen's brilliantly weird monsterpiece Q: The Winged Serpent (1982) and Lewis Teague's incredibly entertaining Alligator (1981)!  Don't let my sarcastic tone fool you. These are genuinely great films with heart and soul, satirical humor and resourceful special effects that wrung maximum joy from meager budgets and even more minuscule expectations. In other words, heckling the screen and laughing out loud ironically will not be tolerated. I'm up in Seattle with my family today so I don't have time to get into my giant-egg-as-metaphor-for-immigration-anxiety hypothesis so, suffice to say, what you get with Q is an unshaven David Carradine stumbling around like he's on Quaaludes and never learned his dialogue while Michael "The Stuff" Moriarty does jazz hands and attempts to blackmail the city of New York for the location of an ancient Aztecan monster's nest (Moriarty is a classically trained jazz pianist and he wrote the song Evil Dream to embellish  Robert "Grizzly" O. Ragland's more traditional orchestral score). You also get Richard "Maniac Cop" Roundtree's mustached overbite gnawing on words like "murder" and "mutilation" while oozing urban sleaze and over-caffeinated angst. Like most of these low budget joints, you don't get to see much monster but when you finally do it's a fucking classy stop-motion model with flapping wings that would definitely give Ray Harryhausen's ghost a semi. And it's made all the more impressive (if not at all plausible) with dizzying panoramic helicopter views of the old pre-911 New York of my childhood. Special fx wizard Randy Cook helped bring Q to life and he's the same guy who did the spectacular animated finale for John Carpenter's The Thing that same year, before going on to major success with Ghostbusters, Fright NightThe Gate and The Lord of the Rings. I also don't have time to pontificate upon the socioeconomic implications of a massive black monster of neglect bursting out of the Chicago sewers to devour the wealthy elite at some stuffy wedding reception, but Aligator makes that Guns 'N' Roses video look like total bullshit. There's also the always awesome Robert Forster racing against time to save the city while his colleagues make strangely endearing remarks about his thinning hair. So when you get done elbowing elderly women in the throat to get that last jar of Allspice in the bulk section, head on down to the Hollywood Theater, shut the fuck up and contemplate the cruel justice of the hunter as the hunted and the consumer as the consumed. But, seriously, shut the fuck up, man.