Tag Archives: Larry Cohen

30 Days of Madness, Day 23 — Q: The Winged Serpent (1982)

by Tom Kapr

Wherein I attempt to watch one new-to-me horror film every day of October till Halloween and write a quick review. I will end my review with a letter grade like we do on our podcast (A, B, C, D, or F–pluses and minuses are for the non-committal!) and with the movie’s rank on my Flickchart.


Written & directed by Larry Cohen.

This movie should have been called Q: The Whiny Small Time Crook. Michael Moriarty is one of the whiniest, weasliest protagonists ever, and the majority of the film follows him around, so its his unbearable show. Am I supposed to find him funny? Or sympathetic? It really seems like he was intended to be both. He’s terrible. And castmates Candy Clark, David Carradine, and Richard Roundtree aren’t much better.

In fact, there isn’t a single character in this film I did care about. All I could think for an hour and twenty minutes was how much I wanted to see this giant bird dragon appear and destroy everyone. An hour and twenty minutes into a 1 hour 32 minute movie. Fifteen minutes from the end, and I was still waiting for real monster action beyond the quick glimpse here and there. I’m thinking there’s only about a minute and a half of monster in this entire film. And maybe another couple of minutes of gross Aztec ritual killings, because, oh yeah, there’s also a cult that’s barely shown. They worship the ancient god Quetzalcoatl, which I guess is what this monster is supposed to be, even though it ends up being nothing more than a lazily designed lizard with wings. It doesn’t look remotely birdlike, even though they’ve been referring to it as a bird throughout the film. Did they even look a picture of Quetzalcoatl before making this movie?

And then the police force’s response to finally finding this giant flying monster is to shoot automatic weapons wildly from the top of a skyscraper out across lower Manhattan. They probably killed more people than the monster did. It would take a scene by scene breakdown to appropriately explain how bad this movie is.

Bad writing, bad directing, bad acting, bad cinematography, bad music (I kid you not, there were two separate pieces of music playing at the same gorram time in one scene), and, I’m sorry to say since I’m a lover of old-fashioned stop-motion monster movies, bad special effects. I actually can’t find anything worthy of legitimate praise.

Final grade: I’m afraid I have to give this an F. I was looking forward to watching this, too.

My Flickchart ranking: #3193 (out of 3268, a relative 2/100) (Bottom 100!)