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Q - The Winged Serpent

A movie directed by Larry Cohen

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Quetzlcoatl - A monster or A God?

  • Oct 5, 2000
Pros: Damn thing is over

Cons: Damn thing started

aka Q
aka The Winged Serpent

Title Song: Let's fall apart together tonight

Written/Produced and Directed by Larry Cohen

I am sure you are all familiar with the scene of someone sitting and rubbing their hands together in anticipatory glee - that would be me right now as I delve into the unknown landscape of the monster Quetzlcoatl (damn cute name isn't it?).

The movie stars David Carradine, Richard Roundtree, Michael Moriarity and Candy Clark. Carradine and Roundtree would be the investigating police officers, Moriarity the ex-con and Clark his girlfriend. Now, on to the movie .......

There are very few movies that pique your interest in the first 5 minutes with the decapitation of a oversexed window washer as he leers in the window at the female executive on the phone. You could say it would pretty much put an end to an otherwise boring day on the job. After Carradine and Roundtree visit this little scene, they are immediately whisked away to a hotel room to view the corpse of a man laying on his bed, sans skin, after he was discovered by the maid. Pretty much ruined her day as well.

Five minutes into the movie and we have a decapitation, a skinned corpse, a glimpse of someone laying a person on a table and beginning to flay the skin off their body and some really funny, in a sick demented way, scenes by Carradine and Roundtree!

Let's get some more of the bodies out of the way. Our next victim is a sweet little lady on a rooftop that decides to do a little sunbathing. On a rooftop across the way we have a nasty little man watching her slather her silky breasts with lotion - of course we get to watch too - and at this point I believe the winged serpent strikes. I'm not exactly sure, since the film went bad here and the next thing I see is a lot of people on the street below looking up as it rains blood on them. Kind of leads you to believe that there was a misdeed done, but it is not confirmed until later.

The next person to fall to the claws and beak of this bird (NOTE - I assume it is a bird as I have never seen it but everyone that is attacked is way up in the air, leading you to believe there is a bird involved), a construction worker on the top of a building that is whining about his lost lunch when the next thing you know his hardhat goes flying across the deck, full of blood, and I lose my lunch!

Next we get a shot of a restaurant with the mob sitting around stuffing down the food, discussing an upcoming robbery in which Moriarity will participate. Normally he is the ‘driver' but this time they are forcing him to actually go into the store. In the background, Cohen has decided to add a little spice to those of us that pick up these small nuances, showing the server at the restaurant slowly carving up the chicken with the same knife (oops, the same type of knife) that the guy that is skinning the bodies is using. Cohen is a friggin genius!

Of course the robbery goes bad, that was a given since they were expecting Moriarity to actually go inside during the robbery. He runs from the store, gets hit by a cab, limps off - with the diamonds - and ends up at the Chrysler Building. He's supposed to meet up with fellow thieves there, but since he is running late they are already gone for the day. Apparently crooks hold down a 9-5er just like the rest of with this dilemma, he for some reason decides to climb to the top of the Chrysler Building. WHY? Ok, let me get this straight - the Chrysler Building is too tall. It is too tall for normal everyday people, but add climbing to the peak of this bad boy - huge mistake! And it looks like something outta Batman and Gotham City - ugh!

Naturally, he finds a huge egg. This is our real first monster sighting, even though we have many dead bodies, we have so far had no monster. Well the egg sets him for a spin and as he runs backwards he stumbles over the corpse of a woman. We know it is a woman because it has a gold charm bracelet on and guess who had a charm bracelet on the last time we saw her nubile breasts? Uh, oh! Confirms the fact that the missing film did contain a mutilation scene.

Anyway, this is just the beginning of the blood bath that Quetzlcoatl, and Larry Cohen, dish out for you in this epic drama! There are plenty more beheadings, disembowelings, limbs detachings and a few heart removals before this gig plays out to the finish.

Moriarity, for what is supposed to be a big time gangster, turns into a simpering idiot in his scenes with his darling girlfriend Candy Clark. I can understand why he gets blithering and blubbery when he discovers the remains of the lady with the charm bracelet - that's a given - but for some reason, Ms. Clark seems to spin him into some type of 2 year old youngster that makes you want to slap him silly. Otherwise, his role is Ok, if weak at times.

Roundtree gives a great performance, much better that Carradine who also turns into a simpering idiot in the arms of his lady fair. Carradine, however, is the only one that pursues the ideal of the winged serpent as he tracks him down and stays on his tail (sorry for the pun) of the worrisome bird - Quetzlcoatl (just love that name).

Cohen is great in his subterfuge as he throws in little things like a kite in the shape of a large bird flying over Carradines' head right before the monster picks him up and devours him in midflight; a policeman in mime makeup giving a fantastic impersonation of grief; showing a head exploding like a balloon, then showing a balloon floating away over the sky; having Moriarity lean against a raw meat display right after he has seen the corpse in the Chrysler Building and using this witty remark by one of the policemen "You know it will come back to New York. New York is famous for it's good eating".

Well, other than describing the monster Quetzlcoatl, I'm about through with this one. He is a large bird with a body that resembles a dog with the muscular, defined hindquarters that dogs are noted for but with long front legs like a deer. He has fluid wings similar to bat wings, an elongated neck and a head similar to a Brontosaurus. His nose and mouth resemble a turtle, he has great fangs and a really, really strange tongue. As Carradine says - shortly before he becomes dinner - "If I can kill it it's not a God, just a good old fashioned monster."

So long Quetzlcoatl - just a good old fashioned monster!


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More Q - The Winged Serpent reviews
review by . August 10, 2011
Look out from above! Awakened from its ageless slumber by some generous instances of human sacrifice, Aztec god Quetzalcoatl nests in the Chrysler Building and swoops over Manhattan, devouring the city's residents at random. Neat, eh? After an inept thief (Michael Moriarty, not too many years prior to his successes in Troll and Law & Order) discovers the god-beast in the aftermath of a botched heist, he decides to exploit the location of the menace, to the frustration of two detectives (David …
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About this movie


Larry Cohen, widely regarded as a master of exploitation and cult horror, tackles the monster movie in Q - The Winged Serpent. Here, an ancient terror in the form of an Aztec dragon, Quetzlcoatl, perpetrates a series of bizarre slayings in New York City. The police at first believe the reports of sightings and deaths are the result of ordinary crank calls, and it's up to an ex-con piano player who knows the monster's lair -- the Chrysler Building -- to save the city!
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Director: Larry Cohen
Genre: Action, Fantasy
Release Date: 1982
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Larry Cohen
Runtime: 93 minutes
Studio: Arkoff International, Larco Productions
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