After a fairly inspired opening, with an Empire State Building window washer getting his head bit off, and some funny sarcastic remarks by David Carradine playing a New York City detective who cleans up the mess; I thought I was in for some good cheesy fun. But unfortunately the film quickly devolves into a boring mess. About every 15 to 20 twenty minutes the ancient bird-monster Q shows up and carries some poor soul off to eat, and those moments are decent, but they're too few and far apart.
For some reason a movie called Q: The Winged Serpent, is more about some low life scum named Jimmy Quinn, played by Michael Moriarty (also in the much better Troll). Quinn is an unemployed alcoholic with a shady side; he has hopes to be a better man, mostly for his long-suffering girlfriend, but with no job offers, he takes up with a couple of jewelery robbers as a getaway driver. When they force him to come into the store with them, the robbery goes wrong, and he escapes with the jewels and runs for his life; eventually he makes his way up into the top of the Chrysler Building, where he finds a giant nest full of human skeletons.
Meanwhile, David Carradine and Richard Roundtree, great B-Movie casting, but sadly wasted, are detective partners looking for a serial killer with an Aztec twist. It seems an Aztec Priest, who's been sacrificing people by carving their skin off, has invoked the god Quetzlcoatl, a giant bird monster who has a penchant for rooftop sunbathers. Not a bad idea, but it's not too deeply explored. Again, they spend way too much time with Quinn. The guy's a total drag, he's constantly whining about how horrible his life is, and wondering why he can't be a better person. I wanted to see some people get eaten by a flying monster, not a lamely done drama about a guy with a conscience problem.
Quinn proves that he's a real scumbag when he holds the city hostage by not revealing the location of the bird's nest. He insists on a million dollars and some respect, or the killings won't stop. The last five minutes of Q are by far the best part of the film. We finally get to see more than a beak or a claw of the monster, as they show all of Q in glorious stop-motion animation, flying around the Chrysler Building as Carradine and his crew of cops shoot her down; the poor thing only wanted to collect some food for her soon to be hatched egg. So what if some heads had to be removed, she's an endangered species and should be protected.
If the movie had been about Q attacking New Yorkers, and Carradine and Roundtree investigating, it could have been a fun B-Movie; when those elements were on screen, it is an entertaining film. But they let what should have been a minor character take over the film; I didn't care about Quinn in the least, he could have found the bird, and that would have been enough. I didn't care about his feelings or his relationship with his girlfriend. His unredeemable character drags the film down so far, that it's not worth sitting through for the few good scenes of Q swooping in to grab people. It's unbearable for even those that love bad movies. - Grade: D