Q (1982)

R | 92 mins | Fantasy, Horror | 8 October 1982

Director:

Larry Cohen

Writer:

Larry Cohen

Producer:

Larry Cohen

Cinematographer:

Fred Murphy

Editor:

Armand Lebowitz

Production Company:

Larco Productions
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HISTORY

Various contemporary sources alternately referred to the film’s title as Serpent, The Serpent, Serpent: The Ultimate Thriller, and Serpent, The Ultimate Thriller throughout production.
       Following a 16 Jan 1981 HR brief announcing the casting of Laurene Landon in the picture under its working title, Serpent The Ultimate Thriller, a 20 May 1981 HR news item announced the involvement of actors James Coburn and Yaphet Kotto, who were scheduled to begin filming in New York City late Aug 1981. The 1 Jun 1981 HR estimated a budget of $5 million. However, Landon, Coburn, and Kotto do not appear in the final film, and the 12 Jun 1981 HR noted that production had been moved up to later that month. A 17 Jun 1981 Var news item indicated that Cohen had completed the script in early 1981 and quickly secured private investors to fund the project under his company, Larco Productions. With pre-production completed in under two weeks, Cohen began production after he was fired from directing his screenplay for I, the Jury, (1982, see entry), which was concurrently filming in New York City for American Cinema Productions. 8 Jun 1981 and 15 Jun 1981 HR briefs stated that Cohen was willing to film entirely in New York City in order to consider possibly casting Lauren Bacall and Harry Guardino, and to later secure commitment from actor David Carradine.
       The 17 Jun 1981 Var confirmed that principal photography began 1 Jun 1981, and was expected to film fifteen to sixteen-hour days and six-day weeks ... More Less

Various contemporary sources alternately referred to the film’s title as Serpent, The Serpent, Serpent: The Ultimate Thriller, and Serpent, The Ultimate Thriller throughout production.
       Following a 16 Jan 1981 HR brief announcing the casting of Laurene Landon in the picture under its working title, Serpent The Ultimate Thriller, a 20 May 1981 HR news item announced the involvement of actors James Coburn and Yaphet Kotto, who were scheduled to begin filming in New York City late Aug 1981. The 1 Jun 1981 HR estimated a budget of $5 million. However, Landon, Coburn, and Kotto do not appear in the final film, and the 12 Jun 1981 HR noted that production had been moved up to later that month. A 17 Jun 1981 Var news item indicated that Cohen had completed the script in early 1981 and quickly secured private investors to fund the project under his company, Larco Productions. With pre-production completed in under two weeks, Cohen began production after he was fired from directing his screenplay for I, the Jury, (1982, see entry), which was concurrently filming in New York City for American Cinema Productions. 8 Jun 1981 and 15 Jun 1981 HR briefs stated that Cohen was willing to film entirely in New York City in order to consider possibly casting Lauren Bacall and Harry Guardino, and to later secure commitment from actor David Carradine.
       The 17 Jun 1981 Var confirmed that principal photography began 1 Jun 1981, and was expected to film fifteen to sixteen-hour days and six-day weeks in order to conclude before the possible Directors Guild of America (DGA) strike expected for 1 Jul 1981. During production, the 22 Jun 1981 HR claimed that Cohen was required to take out a $15 million insurance policy for David Carradine, who reportedly refused a stunt double. A 16 Jul 1981 HR item indicated that production moved to Los Angeles, CA, and Mexico City, Mexico, for its final two weeks. The 20 Jul 1981 DV announced that the film marked the motion picture debut of Los Angeles Dodgers baseball player Ron Cey.
       According to the 5 Aug 1981 IHR, special visual effects artists Randy Cook and David Allen constructed a forty-foot serpent for the film. On 1 Jul 1981, DV issued an advertisement from filmmakers, apologizing for frightening New Yorkers while shooting a scene involving SWAT team gunfire atop the Chrysler Building the previous week.
       Following a 17 Mar 1982 Var report stating Samuel Z. Arkoff’s involvement as a consultant and exclusive sales representative for his newly-formed Arkoff International Pictures, the 8 Sep 1982 HR announced a $500,000 advertising campaign from United Film Distribution and scheduled release for 1 Oct 1982. The 14 Oct 1982 HR reported a four-day box-office gross of $619,726 in 115 theaters after its 8 Oct 1982 New York City opening.
       Although released theatrically as Q, the 26 May 1982 Var reviewed the film after the 1982 Cannes Film Festival under the title The Winged Serpent. Undated England Strohl/De Nigiris Incorporated publicity materials in AMPAS library files referred to the project as Q: Quetzalcoatl. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
1 Jul 1981
p. 10.
Daily Variety
20 Jul 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jan 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 May 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jun 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jun 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jun 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jun 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jun 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jun 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jul 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jul 1981
p. 1, 33.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Aug 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Sep 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Oct 1982.
---
Los Angeles Times
20 Nov 1982
Section V, p. 10.
New York Times
8 Oct 1982
p. 12.
Variety
17 Jun 1981.
---
Variety
17 Mar 1982.
---
Variety
26 May 1982
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A United Film Distribution Release
Samuel Z. Arkoff Presents
A Larco Production
A Larry Cohen Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit mgr
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Addl photog
Addl photog
Addl photog
Addl photog
Asst cam
Key grip
2d grip
Elec
2d unit asst cam
2d unit grip
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Props
Asst props
COSTUMES
Ward
Asst ward
MUSIC
Mus
Music published by CAM INC.
Mus ed
Soundtrack rec at
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd eff
Sd eff
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec visual eff
Spec visual eff
Spec visual eff
Spec visual eff
Addl modelmaker
Addl modelmaker
Addl modelmaker
Addl modelmaker
Titles by
MAKEUP
Spec makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Post prod supv
Prod exec
Prod coord
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod staff
Prod staff
Helicopter pilot
Dailies by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
SOURCES
SONGS
"Let's Fall Apart Together Tonight," music by Andy Goldmark, lyric by Andy Goldmark and Janelle Webb Cohen
"Evil Dream," by Michael Moriarty.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Serpent
Winged Serpent
The Winged Serpent
Serpent, The Ultimate Thriller
Release Date:
8 October 1982
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 8 October 1982
Los Angeles opening: 19 November 1982
Production Date:
began 1 June 1981 in New York City, Los Angeles, and Mexico City, Mexico
Copyright Claimant:
Larco Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
6 July 1983
Copyright Number:
PA181143
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Panaflex® Camera and Lenses by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
92
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26551
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

From her New York City high-rise office, a businesswoman screams in terror as something brutally decapitates the window cleaner working outside. Upon arriving at the office, Police Detective Shepard and Sergeant Powell struggle to explain how the man was killed. The next day, Powell investigates the murder of a man whose body was meticulously skinned. Meanwhile, former convict Jimmy Quinn begs a group of gangsters to allow him to work as a driver in their next heist. One afternoon, a rooftop sunbather is attacked and carried away by a flying creature, her blood dripping onto multiple pedestrians and causing panic in the streets below. Desperate for an honest job, Jimmy enters a bar where Shepard is having a drink, and asks to be their lounge pianist. The bartender dislikes his playing, however, and Jimmy has no choice but to help the gangsters rob a jewelry store. He calmly escapes on foot, but a truck strikes him and knocks his bag of money into the street. He limps to a payphone and telephones his lawyer to inform him that he is on his way to visit his offices for help. When he arrives at the offices in the Chrysler Building, however, the lawyer’s door is locked, and Jimmy sets off an alarm, attempting to break in. To evade a security guard, he climbs a series of staircases and ladders, which lead him inside the building’s spire. At the top, Jimmy discovers an enormous egg lying in a nest, before stumbling over a bloody human skeleton wearing a gold bracelet. Frightened, Jimmy sneaks downstairs and escapes the building. Meanwhile, the winged creature attacks more people and drops their body parts onto ... +


From her New York City high-rise office, a businesswoman screams in terror as something brutally decapitates the window cleaner working outside. Upon arriving at the office, Police Detective Shepard and Sergeant Powell struggle to explain how the man was killed. The next day, Powell investigates the murder of a man whose body was meticulously skinned. Meanwhile, former convict Jimmy Quinn begs a group of gangsters to allow him to work as a driver in their next heist. One afternoon, a rooftop sunbather is attacked and carried away by a flying creature, her blood dripping onto multiple pedestrians and causing panic in the streets below. Desperate for an honest job, Jimmy enters a bar where Shepard is having a drink, and asks to be their lounge pianist. The bartender dislikes his playing, however, and Jimmy has no choice but to help the gangsters rob a jewelry store. He calmly escapes on foot, but a truck strikes him and knocks his bag of money into the street. He limps to a payphone and telephones his lawyer to inform him that he is on his way to visit his offices for help. When he arrives at the offices in the Chrysler Building, however, the lawyer’s door is locked, and Jimmy sets off an alarm, attempting to break in. To evade a security guard, he climbs a series of staircases and ladders, which lead him inside the building’s spire. At the top, Jimmy discovers an enormous egg lying in a nest, before stumbling over a bloody human skeleton wearing a gold bracelet. Frightened, Jimmy sneaks downstairs and escapes the building. Meanwhile, the winged creature attacks more people and drops their body parts onto the street. Shepard speaks with a curator at the American Museum of Natural History, who tells him the about the human sacrifices made by the Aztecs to a winged serpent god called Quetzalcoatl. Believing many of the victims to be suicidal, Shepard borrows the curator’s books in hopes of learning more about the ancient rituals. Jimmy returns to his girl friend, Joan, and confesses about the failed theft and the dead body he discovered in the Chrysler Building. That night, a man in an Aztec mask and feathered costume slices open another man’s chest; the following morning, Shepard and Powell find the body along the Hudson River with the heart carefully removed. As rumors of a monstrous bird circulate the city, Shepard speaks with a Columbia University professor about the Aztecs’ sacrificial practices. One day, Jimmy is awakened in his apartment by two of the gangsters, Doyle and Webb, knocking on his door. Jimmy flees through the fire escape, but the men chase him through the streets and accuse him of keeping the jewelry store money for himself. Insisting that the loot is safely hidden, Jimmy leads them to the spire of the Chrylser Building. The gangsters knock the security guard unconscious and follow Jimmy to the serpent’s nest. Once the creature devours Doyle and Webb, Jimmy escapes, but runs into two policemen, who recognize him as the jewelry store robber and arrest him. At the police station, the commissioner informs Powell and Shepard that forty-three witnesses saw a flying creature snatch a man from his rooftop pool. Eavesdropping, Jimmy hears Shepard propose that the recent ritualistic murders are responsible for bringing the winged creature back to life. Later, Joan visits Jimmy in prison and urges him to reveal what he knows about the monster. Jimmy meets with the commissioner, Powell, and Shepard, telling them about the skeleton’s gold bracelet, which the police realize matches the description of an item worn by the missing sunbather. In exchange for revealing the location of the nest, Jimmy demands immunity for his crimes, $1 million, and rights to all photographs of the creature, but Powell and the commissioner refuse. Shepard brings Jimmy to a cafe and coerces him into telling him the location. Sometime later, Jimmy and Shepard lead a squad of policemen to the top of the Chrysler Building, where they shoot the egg. A baby emerges from the shell, but Shepard immediately kills it. Downstairs, Shepard refuses to award Jimmy his $1 million, claiming that the reward was for information leading to the fully-grown creature, not its offspring. Meanwhile, Powell and an undercover police officer watch two men meet outside the American Museum of Natural History and follow them to a warehouse. One man begins to perform the sacrificial ritual on the other, but Powell bursts in and chases after the killer. However, the winged serpent swoops toward the building, grabs Powell in its talons, and flies over the city. In Jimmy’s apartment, he and Joan break up after fighting about the $1 million reward. Police open gunfire as the serpent returns to its nest, but the creature grabs multiple officers in its mouth and flings them over the side, dropping Powell in the process. Riddled with bullets, the monster weakly flies away, eventually plummeting into the street below. Jimmy takes up residence in a hotel, where a man holds him at knifepoint and attempts to sacrifice him to the “plumed serpent,” but Jimmy refuses to recite the prayer necessary to complete the ritual. At that moment, Shepard arrives and shoots the man dead. As they leave the room, Jimmy vows to get a proper job before he reunites with Joan, who Shepard insists is waiting for him at the police station. In a desecrated building across town, another giant serpent egg begins to hatch. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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