A Villain, a Treasure and… – The Flying Serpent (1946)

George Zucco is at his best when he plays the villain and he does so here once again as a man who comes upon a fabled treasure and if that was not surprising enough, a mythical beast that guards it. Being the greedy and evil man that he is, Prof. Andrew Forbes as played by Zucco, tries to discourage anyone who comes to Mexico looking for Montezuma’s fabled gold and when that fails, he sends the fabled Quetzalcoatl to put a stop to them permanently. Soon there is an investigator poking his nose where it does not belong and things spiral out of control as the Zucco makes a mistake by killing too many people and it all but leads to his downfall.

Producers Releasing Corporation released this small gem unto the world in 1946 and while it is definitely not the best horror movie ever made or one that is scary in the least, it is quite entertaining to see Zucco doing his ever-loving best to protect his treasure. What is most interesting about the man is that instead of trying to get rid of the strange reptile/bird hybrid that Quetzalcoatl is, and then removing the treasure to someplace where he could use it, he instead just lets it lie in the cave in which he found it. The Professor is even highly protective of said treasure and creature, as evidenced by his crimes throughout the film, but even more puzzling is the fact that upon its discovery, his wife was killed by the monster and he did nothing about it. Greed might be too tame an excuse to describe the Professor’s actions, but it is a fitting one.

Also starring is the lovely Hope Kramer as the Professor’s daughter and Ralph Lewis as the persistant investigator assigned to discover the cause of death in the case of Dr. Lambert as played by James Metcalf. What is most humourous about it all is that preceding each body that falls in the film, Forbes disappears as he heads out to his cave and his daughter never manages to piece it together. There is that familial duty and love of course, one never wanting to believe that someone they care about or are related to could commit such a crime, but it was plainly evident that Zucco was up to something, if not the culprit.

The practical effects were decent, though director Sam Newfield made the mistake of having a close-up shot of Quetzalcoatl which would break the mystique of the creature and look slightly ridiculous. This would be a case where faraway shots of the flying serpent simply flying or swooping would have benefited the picture greatly, but as it was, it was not enough to ruin the film as a whole. Being a monster movie and man being man, there could only be one outcome to the events taking place and that would be the classic happy ending with Kramer and Lewis getting engaged in the aftermath of it all. High art it was not, but The Flying Serpent is perfect matinee fair, quite enjoyable and sure to delight.

3 out of 5

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