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Rated R
Copyright 1982 Arkoff International and Larco Prod Inc.
Reviewed by Brad on 15 April 2001

The Characters:  

  • Detective Shepard - David Carradine! That's right, Mr. Kung Fu himself. Here he's the um... hero I guess. He is your typical drinks too much works too little kind of cop.
  • Sergeant Powell - Richard Roundtree! That's right, Shaft is here. Mostly as Q-chow, but he's here.
  • Jimmy Quinn - Take 94% weasel, add 4% oily funk, and toss in 2% bone matter. What have you got? The film's other heroic (by default because he lives) main character, that's what.
  • The Professor - All Gilligan's Island jokes aside, he is the local ancient Aztec god expert. He knows way too much about the big Q. I wonder if that means anything? Shot by police and presumed dead.
  • Police Commissioner - Standard Irish police commissioner type. Yea you heard me; the last of the great native Irish NYPD Commissioners.
  • Quetzalcoatl - The movie tells us it's an Aztec God of some sort or another. Actually it's a pretty decent Claymation monster swooping through Manhattan and chewing up more than just the scenery.
  • The Rest - Numerous police, crooks, sunbathers, joggers and window washers are all food for the beast eventually.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

Next to Tokyo, New York City must be the most exciting place to live. Every other day there's something fantastically strange going on to keep one occupied. Whether it is a gigantic monkey on Monday, cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers on Wednesday or pissed off extra terrestrials on Friday, this is one happening city. Well, you can add an avenging Aztech god to the list of exciting activities New York has to offer. The plot to the movie is as follows.

It seems as if something is cruising around the Big Apple lunching on rooftop sunbathers, window washers, and construction workers. New York, being a city of millions, of course nobody sees a thing. In come Detective Shepard (Mr. Kung Fu himself) and Sergeant Powell (Shaft in the flesh), as a couple of New York's finest.

As if all these strange disappearances aren't enough; a series of ritual killings starts dragging Shepard's mojo down, as a series of ritual killings will do. This new string of killings brings Shepard to the local museum where he meets The Professor (an expert in Aztec god's and rituals). It's not explained how Shepard makes this bold move, but I think it has something to do with those whiskey stops so early in the morn. Anyway, he gets some books, complete with plenty of pictures, from the nice Professor and heads home to his swank little pad and his quite um... ...homely woman. Once there he gets it in his head that they are dealing with Quetzalcoatl, don't try to pronounce it cause it'll never happen, an Aztec God of some sort and he goes on to fill out his police report accordingly.

It's about this time we get to meet Jimmy Quinn - a greasy little weasel who signs on to help rob a diamond store named Neil Diamond's of all things. The job goes off and Jimmy runs with the satchel-o-diamonds, which he manages to lose within five minutes. While on the run from the cops he heads to his lawyer's office in the Chrysler building. With his lawyer out and having set off the door alarm Jimmy does the only logical thing which is head up into the upper parts of the building.

I've been in few skyscrapers, although never in the off limits area, but if the Learning Channel has taught me anything it's that those areas of a building are used for all the maintenance equipment. However, once Jimmy gets out of the main hallway, the building is a shit pit with boarded up windows and piles and piles of useless garbage everywhere. Anyway, back to the movie. Jimmy discovers a nest with a huge egg in it and, showing intelligence for the first time, high tails it for home. Being the brain trust he is it only takes a day for Jimmy to get caught by his fellow crooks looking for their diamonds. Having lost said diamonds Jimmy leads the crooks to the large nest he found the previous day and has some fun feeding the local wildlife.

Upon completing his part of the Clean Up New York Campaign for the day, Jimmy heads home only to get pinched by the cops as he enters his building. Not relishing the thought of doing more time, Jimmy meets with the Police Commissioner, Chief, Detective Shepard, and Sergeant Powell to play his trump card and spill about the nest, but only under conditions. First he gets a pardon for all the stuff he's done, next he gets a million dollars cash, and finally he gets all the picture and book rights to the creature. Once all that's out of the way the cops storm the roof of the Chrysler building looking to bust some caps on that bird's ass. With the bird having already fled they can only kill the egg and baby inside it then wait for mommy to return.

In the meantime Powell making one of his few appearances in the film follow the Professor (remember him?) to an abandoned warehouse where he prepares to become the final sacrifice to Q. The police bust in and save the Professor by shooting him! They give chase to the masked ritual master and follow him onto the roof. He gets away as Q comes down to eat Powell. I guess he wasn't the star of this movie, as they usually make it to the end of the movie.

Back at the Chrysler building, Shepard's patience is rewarded when mommy comes back to combat the police who have conveniently positioned themselves in little baskets on the outside of the building. You can probably guess the outcome of this strategic decision. The police manage to shoot the hell out of Q before it kills most of them except Shepard, who stayed safely inside the building. With Q dead the only loose end left to tie up is Jimmy who is pacing around in some run down motel room after being evicted by his girlfriend for general asshole behavior. Jimmy answers a knock at the door only to be accosted by an Indian (as in the country) sounding man who holds a knife to Jimmy's throat and insists he pray so that he may be killed. Imagine his dismay when Jimmy refuses and therefore cannot be killed. Just then Shepard kicks in the door and, without hesitation, shoots the man in the head. He then proceeds to shoot the crazy man several more times, which in all fairness he was asking for. Jimmy decides he's going straight and is determined to get a job to win his woman back. Shepard laughs at this revelation and switches the sign on the door to "Maid please service room." As the movie draws to a close we see a warehouse somewhere in New York with another nest complete with egg. We are left to assume the egg was barren and never hatched or it did and people in New York have just learned to live with it. Either way The End.

This movie is actually very well done given the release date and subject matter. It could have been played many different ways and in the end the very light drama mixed with the horror aspect makes for a very watchable and re-watchable movie. I bought this movie on DVD based on the IMDB description and can honestly say I wasn't disappointed with any aspect of it. My only real beef with the movie was the small amount of screen time Richard Roundtree had in it and the friction his character had with Shepard for no explained reason.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • The top of the Chrysler building is a boarded up sty.
  • New Yorkers never look up.
  • Body parts falling from the sky really don't bother New Yorkers.
  • For all we know God might be a bird.
  • The Constitution doesn't apply to people in prison.
  • The NYPD cuts a sweet deal.
  • The original model for the Statue of Liberty is on top of a skanky warehouse.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 3 mins - Now he's going to have to wash that window all over again.
  • 10 mins - A bit early for the hard stuff isn't it? Oh, I forgot, you're a detective.
  • 20 mins - So it ate everything but that delicate little bracelet? Right.
  • 24 mins - How do you find volunteers for that?
  • 28 mins - Love is a beautiful thing.
  • 43 mins - Two crook McNuggets to go.
  • 78 mins - That cat Shaft is one dead mother... ...shut your mouth.
  • 80 mins - Finally an excuse for the NYPD's excessive force policy.
  • 86 mins - Hope he wasn't just turning down the bed there Shepard.
  • 89 mins - Another egg! Boy, never expected that.


  • Shepard to his woman: "That's why I have to kill it. If I can kill it it's not a god, just a regular monster. I've got to take my birth control pills."
  • Shepard to Powell: "You're a little dense you know that? Just a little."
  • Police Chief to Shepard: "With a wingspan like you're talking about here that thing could fly miles into New York City every day. And it would do that of course, you know, because New York is famous for good eating."

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note q1.wav Powell: "The only place I haven't looked is up in the parapets."
Shepard: "There won't me much left of it. Did you ever drop a cantaloupe from forty stories?"
Green Music Note q2.wav Shepard: "Let me get this straight, you're talking about human sacrifice now?"
Curator: "Willing sacrifice, they give themselves to the god willingly."
Green Music Note q3.wav Joan: "And I told you, the next time you hit me I'll break a lamp over your head while you're asleep!"
Green Music Note q4.wav Jimmy being dumb and weird. "I see dead things. Muh!"
Green Music Note q5.wav Police Captain: "My God, with a wingspan like you're talking about here that thing could fly miles into New York City every day. And it would do that of course, you know, because New York is famous for good eating."
Green Music Note q6.wav Jimmy: "You pay the God damned lottery winner one million dollars and I'm saving the Big Apple ten... ...a hundred million dollars, maybe a billion dollars and you're going to welch on one million lousy dollars?"

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipq1.mpg - 2.1m
Quetzalcoatl comes swooping down to snatch up a poor schmuck and manages to ruin the pool party. At least after this scene the authorities believe an Aztec god is flying around Manhattan.

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Comments:Write CommentPages: [1] 2 3
Q: The Winged Serpent
Reply #1. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Smeazel

Whoops, didn't even notice the line BELOW the headline at first...  "Witnesses Descriptions Conflict".  "Witnesses" should have an apostrophe.  I'm guessing the former copy editor of that fictional newspaper is now holding down a job at the a local McDonalds...
Q: The Winged Serpent
Reply #2. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Smeazel

I like the headline on the newspaper in the fifth still: "Photographs Fail to Prove Existance [sic] of Giant Bird".

You know, in the real world, newspaper editors may let the occasional grammatical error slip through, but they're usually pretty good about not letting blatant misspellings get through.  Especially in the headlines...
Q: The Winged Serpent
Reply #3. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Squishy
Astonishingly Stupid Dialog explains why no one sees "Q" coming as he soars over New York City:

"I guess he was flying in line with the sun."

...or some such crap. Sh'yeah.

I cannot believe the same Michael Moriarity I watch on "Law & Order" reruns is the same guy I saw in "Q" (and "It's Alive III: Island of the Alive"). Eeeewwwwwwwwww.

One Shining Moment: look at that eighth still under the review, the one with Q's head popping up behind Carradine. I had no idea that was a process shot until that very millisecond; startled the living crap outta me. It almost makes up for the stop-motion "swimming" men Q hurls off the Chrysler Building.

Q: The Winged Serpent
Reply #4. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Fritz
Michael Moriarity is in a lot of Larry Cohen's movies, the most famous apart from Q is The Stuff.

Q: The Winged Serpent
Reply #5. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Jordan Garren
How could anyone truly hate this film? Michael Moriarty is hilarious as the down and out ex con (the scene where he talks about his "baaaddd dreams" to his girlfriend is a must see). The effects are kinda cool and the movie pace is good and steady. The director, Larry Cohen, uses a lot of foreshadowin in this flick too, and it's fun to point it out while watching the movie. Now this is just my opinion (which is completely biased since this is one of my childhood favorites) but I'm sure that when you see this'll enjoy it (or at least enjoy Moriarty's acting).
Q: The Winged Serpent
Reply #6. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Steve
In all the comments I've read everyone has seemed to ignor two facts: 1.Quetzalcoutl was a feathered serpent not the winged and clawed reptilian dragon depicted in the film and 2.Quetzalcoatl was the portector and guardian of mankind who among all the Aztec gods rejected human sacrifice.
Q: The Winged Serpent
Reply #7. Posted on July 18, 2004, 09:11:15 PM by firebird
The window washer getting his head munched off and the creature lives atop the chrysler building i guess becuase KING KONG(classic got the empire state building and him running around saying EAT EM EAT EM
Q: The Winged Serpent
Reply #8. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:03 PM by Felicity
Time once again for a Felicity-talks-about-what-her-life-was-like-at-the-time-she-saw-the-movie review.

It was late 1998.  Iíd just been fired from the best job Iíd ever had and I was always low on money.  I was hanging out with this depressing man-hating lesbian dominatrix who only wanted to do things that didnít involve leaving her apartment, and we were desperate for a we decided to rent Q--The Winged Serpent.

So you can see how I might not have been in the best frame of mind.

Add to that that the movie was all gross and 1970s, with bad hair, bad clothes, and bad cinematography, and no likeable characters...the movie had signed its own death warrant.

Only two positive experiences came out of this otherwise completely hateable movie:

1.  The naked woman on the rooftop.

2.  Two years later I e-mailed the proprietor of a bad-movie site (I canít remember the name now, but it was these really nice guys in Lynnwood, Washington) who had asked for suggestions for bad movies to review, and I suggested Q--The Winged Serpent, and he seemed really, really thrilled that I suggested it.  :-)
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