The Flying Serpent

The Flying Serpent” is a hoot, but the title creature isn’t an owl. It’s a mythological Aztec flying lizard. Honest. You can trust me, because I keep one in my bedroom closet.


His name is Quetzalcoatl, and if any of this sounds familiar, it is because the flying lizard also starred in director Larry Cohen’s 1982 film “Q.” In that film he was a stop-motion creation, a giant lizard with wings who lived in the bell tower of a New York high rise. In this 1945 film, Quetzalcoatl looks more like a flying turd with feathers, being elevated by a string.

flyingserpentdvdcoverYet that doesn’t stop the characters in this melodrama from being scared by the creature, who has been captured by a determined archaeologist (George Zucco) and used to guard an ancient treasure. Produced on an extremely low budget (the film resembles a Saturday morning serial), “The Flying Serpent” is an unexpected laugh riot. It’s camp in its highest form, a silly little monster movie in which all of the actors play it straight even though they are reciting dreadful dialogue.

Directed by Sam Newfield for P.R.C. Pictures (under the pseudonym Sherman Scott), the film digs up every cliche and caricature in the book, including the demented scientist, his devoted daughter, the overly inquisitive reporter, etc. It’s a by the number experience by writer John T. Neville, who fails to provide the actors with anything more to do than look and point. You know you’re watching a low budget film when the filmmaker’s are forced to use the same shot over and over again, even though the scenes involved take place at different times. Budgetary restraints also allowed for only one process shot, and they wear the hell out of it.

The performances are melodramatic at best, laughable at worst. People don’t act in this film, they overact. Unfortunately, the print used for the DVD has seen better days. It’s filled with numerous flaws that detract from the overall viewing pleasure.

COMPLETE CHECK-UP

VISION: [ ] 20/20 [ ] Good [ X ] Cataracts [ ] Blind

Even though the digital transfer is fine, the original negative is in horrible shape. Why Image Entertainment would even bother is a mystery. Not only is the original negative scratched, frames are missing, and reel change marks are so apparent it’s funny. The film is delivered in full frame, but it is difficult to judge the contrasts due to the poor quality of the print. Blacks are okay, but whites and shadows are weak.

HEARING: [ ] Excellent [ X ] Minor Hearing Loss [ ] Needs Hearing Aid [ ] Deaf

Some of the dialogue is hard to hear on the Dolby Digital mono soundtrack, but otherwise it serves its purpose.

ORAL: [ ] Excellent [ ] Good [ X ] Poor

No closed captions or subtitles.

COORDINATION: [ ] Excellent [ ] Good [ X ] Clumsy [ ] Weak

Main and scene access menus, plus a filmography of George Zucco.

PROGNOSIS: [ ] Excellent [ ] Fit [ ] Will Live [ X ] Resuscitate [ ] Terminal

For camp value, the film is unbeatable. However, the original negative is so bad only hard core fans will want to take a chance.

VITALS: $19.98/Not Rated/58 Minutes/B&W/10 Chapter Stops/Snapcase/#ID5370FWDVD

ATTENDING RESIDENT: John Larsen

PATIENT: THE FLYING SERPENT

BIRTH DATE: 1945

HMO: Image Entertainment



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