Q The Winged Serpent – tape 582

The tape opens with the end of a London Programme about sewage treatment, and the effect on beaches. It features a deeply unpleasant scene where MP Teddy Taylor drink the seawater to prove it’s safe.

Teddy Taylor drinks the water

Then, we have our main feature. When a film starts with ‘Samuel Z Arkoff Presents’ you know you’re in for some genre fun, and this is no exception.

It has a great opening. A woman working in an office high up in a skyscraper is being bothered by a creepy window cleaner who keeps waving at her and knocking on the window, when he’s suddenly attacked by something, which rips his head off.

David Carradine and Richard Roundtree are the detectives on the case, but they’re baffled, as the head is nowhere to be found. Other grisly deaths are discovered, and blood rains down from the sky onto horrified New Yorkers.

Richard Rowntree and David Carradine

Meanwhile, Michael Moriarty is Quint, a slightly down at heel petty crook, signing up as a getaway driver for some other crooks, but when the heist goes wrong (off-screen a la Reservoir Dogs) he panics and tries to find his Lawyer, who works at the top of the Chrysler building. When he finds the Lawyer’s office locked, and a security guard lurking around, he hides in the roof space, and comes across a rather large nest.

A very big egg

The strange sightings, falling body parts and victims with their skin completely flayed off continue to mount up. Carradine talks to experts in South American ancient civilisations, who used to worship flying serpents. And we keep getting grisly cutaways to actual sacrifices, although we don’t see who’s doing them.

This is great fun, and benefits enormously from Michael Moriarty’s hyper performance as the hapless Jimmy Quinn, somehow pulled into all the monster goings on and possible human sacrifices. He even plays a mean bit of jazz piano.

The effects are old-school stop motion from David Allen and Randy Cook – Cook was one of the key effects animators in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. They wisely keep the creature off screen for much of the film, using some lovely looping helicopter photography to show the monster’s point of view – for a low budget film, they got a lot of value out of that helicopter footage. But the monster is great when we do see it – in stop-motion terms at least. Younger viewers probably can’t appreciate the quality of the work, given how smooth and realistic even cheap CGI is these days, but this was clearly a labour of love.

The ending is a little bit anti-climactic, but that aside, this is worth catching up with if you’ve nothing better to do of a cold winter evening.

Following this, recording switches to an unbilled episode of The Last Resort. Guests tonight are:

Norman Lovett

Norman Lovett

Ted Polhemus – an anthropologist who studies popular culture, or, as he describes himself, a voyeur.

Ted Polhemus

A man called Chris Erachlides and his big dog, Zorba.

Chris Erachlides

Music from Mica Paris and Will Downing

Mica Paris and Will Downing

The final guest is Pia Zadora

Pia Zadora

At the start of this interview, it sounds like someone in the audience is actually wolf whistling. In fact, there’s some pans across the audience which makes it look like there’s a large contingent of ‘lads’ in the front row. Office night out?

After this, recording switches again, to an interview by Sarah Greene (dressed for a victorian seaside) with Sylvester McCoy.

Sarah Greene and Sylvester McCoy

I have to assume this was Going Live, as they are briefly interrupted by Trevor and Simon.

There are three shivering children, pulled from the pool behind them to ask some probing questions like ‘How many Doctors have there been?’. But the first telephone question, from a Nicholas Williams, has a very definite ‘JNT must go’ slant – talking about the comedy in recent stories, and would he like to see a new producer bring back the horror.

Duncan Jones (surely not that Duncan Jones) asks if he likes the costume.

After this interview, Trev and Simon look at King Arthur, or Robin Hood, or somebody historical, anyway. Pia Zadora shows her video, and is interviewed in the pool by Philip Schofield.

 

Pia Zadora and Philip Schofield

They even go down the water slide together. She’s very game.

And this bit of recording ends with part of an episode of Thundercats.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 5th November 1988 – 08:15

Adverts:

  • trail: The London Programme
  • trail: The Walden Interview
  • trail: Hale & Pace
  • LBC
  • British Telecom
  • Renault 5
  • Heinz Beans
  • Dickins & Jones
  • Queensway
  • L’Oreal Plenitude
  • Intercity
  • Crimestoppers
  • Capital Radio
  • trail: Blind Date/Murder She Wrote
  • trail: Bust
  • Small Shredded Wheats
  • Tetley bitter
  • Genius the game
  • Woolwich
  • McDonalds
  • Daily Mirror
  • Nabs Charity Banger Racing
  • trail: Murder She Wrote
  • Guardian Royal Exchange
  • Apple – The War Room – I don’t remember this particular ad in their series of ‘we’re really serious for business’ adverts

  • Dickins and Jones
  • Heinz Weightwatchers
  • Today
  • Alpen – Lenny Henry
  • trail: Live from the London Palladium
  • MMR Vaccine

  • Van Heusen
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4 comments

  1. Great poster as well – cops on the top of the Chrysler Building shooting at the beastie, who in the best Kong tradition has a blonde beauty in his/her claws. I hope she doesn’t get shot by mistake.

    Pia Zadora got a lot of stick back then, poor lass.

  2. That’s Golden Globe winner Pia Zadora. You don’t happen to have Butterfly recorded do you? I recall that being shown on late night ITV a couple of times. See Pia square off against Orson Welles! OK, Voyage of the Rock Aliens was more entertaining.

    1. I recall liking it, plus the duet she did for the movie with Jermaine Jackson was better than any given Janet Jackson track. Or several latterday Michael ones.

  3. That episode of Going Live came from Center Parcs, there was a tradition that once a series they did the whole show as an outside broadcast. That was the first, the next series they did the whole show on a cross-channel ferry from Dover to Calais which at the time was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen on television, I couldn’t believe they could do a whole three hours on a moving ship, and apparently it was a massive technical achievement. Doing it from Center Parcs not quite the same, but still fun.

    Here’s another clip from that episode with Sly’s other appearance…

    There’s a very odd bit four and a half minutes in where Pip strolls into shot and announces they were going to the newsroom, and I have no idea what that’s about. He looks jolly enough, and nothing in that day’s news seems to justify a newsflash, especially one interrupting kids’ shows.

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