The Flying Serpent (1946)

George Zucco’s archaeologist character has a major problem at the beginning of the 1946 cheapie “The Flying Serpent.” He had recently discovered Montezuma’s treasure horde in an Aztec cave in New Mexico, and now fears that the locals might start to get snoopy. Good thing he’s also found Quetzalcoatl, the legendary Aztec serpent/bird god, and has learned that the creature will track down and kill whoever is in unwitting possession of one of its feathers. Thus, pretty soon, Zucco is planting Q plumage left and right, sitting back and enjoying the carnage… Anyway, this 57-minute film is minimally fun, and Zucco is always interesting to watch, but the picture is unfortunately done in by supercheap production values, a tediously talkative screenplay, occasional goofball humor, and the simple fact that we never get a solid, steady look at Quetzalcoatl itself. Worse, the film’s resolution is asinine and inane, with Zucco behaving uncharacteristically stupid and contrary to common sense. Matters aren’t helped by the badly damaged film print offered to us on the Image DVD that I just watched, with problematic sound, to boot. Many other viewers have noted the similarity between this picture and another PRC effort, “The Devil Bat,” a Bela Lugosi vehicle released five years earlier. In that film, Bela had lured his flying killer to the intended victim by using a special shaving lotion; here, those darn feathers have been substituted. Bottom line: I would have to say that “The Flying Serpent” is a movie for George Zucco completists only, if such an animal exists. Other viewers who are interested in a film featuring the feathered serpent god alive and well in the 20th century would probably be better advised to seek out Larry Cohen’s 1982 film “Q.”