Q (film)

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Q: The Winged Serpent
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Larry Cohen
Produced by Larry Cohen
Written by Larry Cohen
Starring Michael Moriarty
Candy Clark
David Carradine
Richard Roundtree
James Dixon
Ron Cey
Music by Robert O. Ragland
Cinematography Robert Levi
Fred Murphy
Edited by Armond Lebowitz
Distributed by United Film Distribution Company (UFDC)
Release date
October 29, 1982 (US)
Running time
93 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1.1 million[1]

Q (also known as The Winged Serpent and as Q – The Winged Serpent) is a 1982 dark fantasy-horror film written 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 hapless New Yorkers. 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, 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.

The details of the location fall into Shepard's hands, and he leads a paramilitary assault on the Chrysler Building. First, they shoot the egg, the baby attacks and is killed. Later, the creature comes to the tower, after the showdown, the creature, riddled with bullets, falls onto the streets of Manhattan. Finally, Shepard also apprehends and shoots the Plumed Serpent's crazed priest as he prepares to ritually murder Quinn to resurrect his "god"; in the final scene, a large egg hatches.


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]

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."[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. ^ [1][dead link]
  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. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Q Movie Review & Film Summary (1982) - Roger Ebert". rogerebert.suntimes.com. 

External links[edit]