Q (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
CinematographyRobert Levi
Fred Murphy
Edited byArmond Lebowitz
Distributed byUnited Film Distribution Company (UFDC)
Release date
October 29, 1982 (US)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.1 million[1]

Q (a.k.a. The Winged Serpent and Q – The Winged Serpent) is a 1982 dark fantasy-horror 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, Dt. Shepard (David Carradine) and Sgt. Powell (Richard Roundtree), who are already occupied with a case involving a series of bizarre ritual murders linked to a secret Aztec cult. Meanwhile, Jimmy Quinn (Michael Moriarty), a cheap, paranoid crook who wishes to be a jazz pianist, takes part in a botched diamond heist that leads him to the creature's lair atop the building when he is pursued by his enraged fellow robbers, all of whom are devoured by the creature. This causes Quinn's attempts to settle down and turn over a new leaf from crime to be in vain as he decides 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". In the final scene, 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.[4] It was released on DVD by Blue Underground in 2003.[5]

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

Critical reception[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 65% based on 23 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 6.1/10.[6] Roger Ebert gave the film 2 1/2 stars in his original review but was bursting with praise for Moriarty's performance. He 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!" Arkoff replied "The dreck was my idea."[7]

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. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-09-19. Retrieved 2016-03-02.
  3. ^ "Q (1982)". the -numbers.com. Retrieved 2011-04-16.
  4. ^ "Company Credits for Q". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2011-04-16.
  5. ^ "Q (DVD)". dvdempire.com. Retrieved 2011-04-16.
  6. ^ "Q (1982) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes.com. Flixer. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Q Movie Review & Film Summary (1982) - Roger Ebert". rogerebert.suntimes.com.

External links[edit]