Q (1982 film)

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Q: The Winged Serpent
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLarry Cohen
Produced byLarry Cohen
Written byLarry Cohen
StarringMichael Moriarty
Candy Clark
David Carradine
Richard Roundtree
Music byRobert O. Ragland
CinematographyFred Murphy
Oliver Wood
Edited byArmond Lebowitz
Distributed byUnited Film Distribution Company
Release date
October 29, 1982 (United States)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.1 million[1]

Q (also known as The Winged Serpent and Q – The Winged Serpent) is a 1982 monster film written, produced and directed by Larry Cohen and starring Michael Moriarty, Candy Clark, David Carradine, and Richard Roundtree.


The Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, a winged, dragon-like, female lizard, takes up residence in the art-deco spire of the Chrysler Building, with frequent jaunts in the midday sun to devour various helpless New Yorkers on the rooftops. The resulting bloody mess confounds detectives, Shepard and Powell, who are already occupied with a case involving a series of bizarre ritual murders linked to a secret neo-Aztec cult.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Quinn, a cheap, paranoid crook who wishes to be a jazz pianist, takes part in a botched diamond heist. Attempting to hide from police after the heist, he stumbles upon the creature's lair atop the Chrysler building. Quinn abandons his attempts to settle down and leave his life of crime, deciding to extort from the city an enormous amount of money in exchange for directions to the creature's nest, which houses a colossal egg.

Quinn makes a deal with the city--$1 million for the location of the nest. He leads Shepard and a paramilitary assault team to the top of the Chrysler Building. First, they shoot the egg, killing the baby inside. Later, the creature comes to the tower. After the showdown, the creature, riddled with bullets, falls onto the streets of Manhattan. Finally, Shepard shoots the Plumed Serpent's crazed priest (who had been committing the ritual murders) as he tries to kill Quinn to resurrect his "god".

Ultimately, a second large egg hatches in a different location in the city.


Production notes[edit]

Q 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.[2]

The original music score was composed by Robert O. Ragland.

The film was marketed with the tagline, "It's [sic] name is Quetzalcoatl... Just call it Q. That's all you'll have time to say before it tears you apart!"

The film poster's glossy monster illustration was painted by science fiction/fantasy artist Boris Vallejo.


The special effects for the flying serpent were done using stop-motion animation by Randall William Cook and David Allen.


The film was given a limited release theatrically in the United States by United Film Distribution Company in October 1982. It grossed approximately $255,000 at the box office.[3]

The film was later released on VHS by MCA/Universal Home Video. It was released on DVD by Blue Underground in 2003.[4]

Shout! Factory released the film on DVD and Blu-ray Disc August 27, 2013, through their Scream Factory branch.

Critical reception[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 69% based on 26 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 6.2/10.[5] Roger Ebert gave the film 2 1/2 stars in his original review but was bursting with praise for Moriarty's performance. Ebert relates the anecdote that, when movie reviewer Rex Reed met Q's producer, Samuel Z. Arkoff, Reed told him: "What a surprise! All that dreck—and right in the middle of it, a great Method performance by Michael Moriarty!", while Arkoff replied: "The dreck was my idea."[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Patrick McGilligan, "Larry Cohen: Manic Energy", Backstory 4: Interviews with Hollywood Screenwriters of the 1970s and 1980s, Uni of California, 2006 p. 64
  2. ^ Hunter, Rob (March 30, 2015). "20 Things we Learned from Larry Cohen's Commentary for Q The Winged Serpent". Film School Rejects. Reject Media, LLC. Archived from the original on September 19, 2015. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  3. ^ "Q (1982)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Archived from the original on September 22, 2011. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  4. ^ "Q (DVD)". DVDEmpire.com. Right Ascension, Inc. Archived from the original on November 8, 2011. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  5. ^ "Q (1982)". Rotten Tomatoes.com. Fandango. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger (January 1, 1982). "Q Movie Review & Film Summary (1982) - Roger Ebert". rogerebert.com. suntimes.com. Retrieved March 2, 2019.

External links[edit]