Q—The Winged Serpent (1982)

q the winged serpent poster 1982 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 6/10

Goofy horror fun

Underdeveloped story with potential

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Q—The Winged Serpent

Studio:  Arkoff International

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  September 8, 1982 (France)/October 29, 1982 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

q the winged serpent chrysler building quetzalcoati

Can’t a Winged Serpent find some peace and quiet in this city?

Small-time crook Jimmy Quinn (Michael Moriarty) thinks he’s finally hit the jackpot.  The Aztec winged god Quetzalcoati has taken residence in the Chrysler Building in New York City and has begun to kill people all over the area.  Only Quinn knows the location and he believes he can spin the knowledge into financial gain.  As detectives Shepard (David Carradine) and Powell (Richard Roundtree) search for a potential tie to sacrificial murders, Q is getting bigger and stronger…and may be unstoppable!

Written and directed by Larry Cohen, Q—The Winged Serpent is often just called Q or The Winged Serpent.  The low-budget horror fantasy received relatively positive reviews and gained a cult following.

Q—The Winged Serpent was one of those movies that you always picked up at video stores, but you never really watched.  I can remember looking at Q, Beastmaster, The Sword and the Sorcerer, and Deathstalker and liking the fantasy artwork, but realizing that the movies were probably not top notch…Q however is a bit different because it takes a horror approach with humor mixed in.

q the winged serpent michael moriarty aztec

Oh yeah, and there is this whole Aztec sacrifice thing going on

The story has a lot of untouched potential.  There are essential two storylines going (and one is never fully explained).  Quetzalcoati is killing everyone for its nest and Quinn learns about it.  It becomes a quest to kill Q and protect the city.  The second story is the underdeveloped actual “story” involving the Aztecs who have summoned or helped give birth to Q.  It is the lost story that could have really built up and developed the basic monster movie…but it feels forgotten until the ending which fast forwards to a conclusion.

The cast is quite decent considering the source material.  Cohen used what became one of his regular actors in Moriarty who received praise for his portrayal of the greedy but down on his luck thief.  Bruce Willis originally auditioned for David Carradine’s role but the filmmakers wanted a name.  Richard Roundtree doesn’t live up to his bad name from Shaft and ends up a victim of Q.  Candy Clark also appears as Moriatry’s girlfriend.

q the winged serpent fights police quetzalcoati

Claymation Q doesn’t like Claymation police officers shooting at her!

The movie is pretty low budget on its effects, but it has a nice retro feel to it.  The movie almost resembles The Giant Claw at points with the big talons of Q sweeping down and taking its victims.  Generally, the less of Q they show the better, but I have a soft spot for stop-motion animation.  It feels like a real throwback to King Kong or movies like The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.

Q—The Winged Serpent is a fun monster movie, and it knows it.  The movie isn’t good, but it doesn’t seem to have many airs about it and just plays off of the giant creature film.  Q is short and goofy fun.  If you like monster movies, check out Q—The Winged Serpent.  Maybe we’ll see Son of Q someday…but I’m doubting it.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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