Q, The Winged Serpent Image

Q, The Winged Serpent

By Josiah Teal | March 10, 2021

Larry Cohen got his start in television before going on to write and direct several cult favorite films such as It’s Alive. In 1982, he paid homage to giant monster films with Q, The Winged Serpent. In the wake of a grizzly murder and mysterious rooftop attacks, hard-boiled Detective Shepard (David Carradine) heads the investigation. But, when the attacks seem to be connected to mystic Aztec rituals and a massive winged serpent (hence the name of the film), Shepard must team up with career criminal Jimmy Quinn (Michael Moriarty) to save the Big Apple from imminent destruction.

After a jewelry heist goes wrong, Quinn makes his way to the top of the Chrystler building. Once Quinn reaches the top floor, he finds himself in the nest of the skyline terror, Quetzalcoatl. Just as Quinn is on the run, Shepard begins making connections between the ritualistic murders across the city and the appearance of this winged monster. Soon discovering that some believe the creature is an ancient Aztec god, Shepard and Quinn must put their differences aside to take down the mythical evil winged serpent.

“…the attacks seem to be connected to mystic Aztec rituals and a massive winged serpent…”

Q, The Winged Serpent is utterly delightful in the way only a violent, self-aware, and campy cult film can be. It is equal parts 1950s sci-fi, 70s style noir, camp horror, giant monster film, and 80s cult classic rolled into one film ready-made for midnight screenings. The violence ranges from The Blob comical to The Toxic Avenger over-the-top, and that is just the opening. Cohen checks so many mental boxes a cult film fan has for a film like this it is thrilling just to think about. The actors give it everything they have, the monster is incredible in a low-budget format, the action is exciting, and the ending leaves you cheering for more winged carnage.

Admittedly, I adore monster films like Q, The Winged Serpent. It is a film you love and rewatch in the same way you love something like Reptilicus or The Giant Gila Monster. Undoubtedly this film is for an incredibly niche audience. However, if you find yourself in said audience, is an absolute must-watch. The monster storyline is a blast to watch and, the detective plot only enhances the stakes in each instance of winged death. I highly recommend this to the legions of monster and cult movie fans. It is a fantastic midnight double-feature to complement any of your classic camp favorites.

Q, The Winged Serpent (1982)

Directed and Written: Larry Cohen

Starring: Michael Moriarty, Candy Clark, David Carradine, Richard Roundtree, James Dixon, Malachy McCourt, Fred J. Scollay, etc.

Movie score: 8.5/10

Q, The Winged Serpent Image

"…a blast to watch..."

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  1. Graham Rae says:

    Classic film. Rewatched it a few times recently. Hilarious; love the scene where a cop gets grabbed by the beast, and a mime silently mimes screaming when the cop is dropped to his death. And hey! You never once mentioned Michael Moriarty’s stunning performance as the junkie-blackmailer! Superb! “EAT ‘EM! EAT ‘EM! CRUNCH, CRUNCH!” 🙂

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