Q: The Winged Serpent – USA, 1982

‘You’ll just have time to scream… before it tears you apart!’

Q – also known as Q: The Winged Serpent and The Winged Serpent – is a 1982 American horror feature film written and directed by Larry Cohen (It’s Alive; God Told Me To; The Stuff).

Pre-production for the movie lasted just one week. The film was conceived when Larry Cohen was fired from I, the Jury, which was shooting in New York. Cohen, determined not to waste the hotel room he had paid for, hired the actors and prepared a shooting script within six days. This was the first production for the new AIP (Arkoff International Pictures).


According to interviews, Cohen once looked at the Chrysler Building and said, “That’d be the coolest place to have a nest.” This single thought was the idea that began the creation of this movie.

David Carradine agreed to play Shepard even though he didn’t receive a script to read prior to his first day of working on the film. Bruce Willis wanted to star in David Carradine’s role but wasn’t a known name at the time that Larry Cohen could depend on to be bankable.

The movie stars Michael Moriarty, Candy Clark, David Carradine and Richard Roundtree.


The film was shot on location in and around New York city’s Chrysler Building and uses the interior of the building’s tower crown as a primary location.

The Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, the “winged serpent”, has been resurrected by a cult in modern New York City and is flying about, snatching people off the skyscrapers.


Two police detectives (Carradine and Roundtree) are investigating the bloody, entrail-strewn (and strangely mostly-rooftop-set) path of disappearance, death, and dismemberment about whose obvious – but staggeringly aberrant – cause the NYPD, the Mayor’s Office, and the Office of the Medical Examiner, are in complete and angry denial.



Meanwhile, Quinn, a reluctant getaway driver (Moriarty), who is hotfooting it away from the cops after a jewel heist gone wrong, happens upon the deity’s lair…


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“Compared to most horror films of this decade, Q – The Winged Serpent looks a bit more dated and of its time due to the stop-motion Claymation effects. But it’s so strange and so very Cohen that it makes sense that it would gain a cult following.” Meagan Navarro, Bloody Disgusting

Q is also genuinely unsettling, despite some creaky special effects, and few movies have ever utilised the towers of the New York skyline so effectively as a nauseatingly three dimensional landscape that regularly induces vertigo in the viewer.” The Quietus


‘Both Quinn’s hard-luck crime story and the presence of Q overhead really capture the imagination, but the subplot about a high priest performing human sacrifices on the ground is a useless appendage. It’s hard to imagine developing any sort of emotional investment in that business, and it’s the part of the film that feels the most like a run-of-the-mill horror scenario.’ Film Freak Central


‘ …Q is mostly a good-natured lark that’s only occasionally energized by the director’s characteristic social outrage and despair, and so it pales in comparison to Cohen films as deranged and provocative as God Told Me To, It’s Alive, or even the goofy The Stuff. Q feels slight and sketchy in relation to those other films, and it tends to stall when Moriarty isn’t on screen performing his one-of-kind mixture of satirical, self-amused, experimental vaudeville.’ Chuck Bowen, Slant Magazine


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The film’s shooting title was Serpent







Categories: 1980s, creature feature, monster movie

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