Sunday, 21 October 2012

31 Days Of Horror - Day 21: The Serpent And The Rainbow (1988)

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An anthropologist goes to Haiti after hearing rumors about a drug used by black magic practitioners to turn people into zombies.

Wes Craven and zombies, who'd of thought it?! It's still hard to think of the two together today but it happened and it was good!



"The Serpent And The Rainbow" is loosely based on a book of the same name, actually Author Wade Davis only agreed to sell the book rights on the condition that Peter Weir direct and Mel Gibson star. Neither had any involvement in the project so I don't know what happened there but it's fun to imagine 'what if? 

Craven was a great choice for the film, he's always paid great attention to small details and he doesn't fail here. I also love the fact he took the zombie genre back to it's voodoo roots, no government mishap, no nuclear explosion or anything like that, just pure magical voodoo. He also mixes the zombie with Haiti's political struggles which is very clever.


Bill Pullman, plays our main character 'Dennis Alan' an Ethnobotanist/anthropologist, he is sent to Haiti by a pharmaceutical corporation looking to investigate a drug used in Haitian Voodoo, in the hope of using it for anesthesia. Pullman was a perfect casting choice for such a role, he's a very under-rated actor and seems to continue to be to this day, despite some great roles.

The voodoo aspect of the film creates a very unsettling atmosphere and features some very creative gruesome imagery, even some scenes will make your skin crawl. I know people who have endured terrible nightmares from this film and still refuse to watch it again, that shows how powerful it is.


"The Serpent And The Rainbow" is a great film, It's my second favourite Craven film (no need to tell you my number one). It's a truly great take on the zombie story and I recommend it to anyone who loves a good roller-coaster of a film.

If you want to see "The Serpent And The Rainbow" trailer then just click on the video below:




Miscellaneous facts about the film:

The CD Soundtrack to this film is extremely rare, as it was pressed in limited quantities. Part of this was due to the film's poor release and the fact that the market was transitioning from LP to CD as a mass format, meaning that the number of copies is much smaller than an average soundtrack album run.

Due to political strife and civil turmoil in Haiti during the production, the local government informed the film crew that they could not guarantee their safety for the remainder of the shoot. The crew subsequently relocated to nearby Dominican Republic to complete filming.

Newly-wed, Bill Pullman's wife was invited to be an extra and appears on screen as the blonde who pushes a long needle through a willing man's cheek.

Bill Pullman acted alongside a jaguar, a viper and a tarantula during the course of film. However all the animals were raised in captivity and were relatively tame.

A note is imposed on the final scene that states that scientists are studying the "zombie powder" and that what makes it work "remains a mystery." There is also a disclaimer at the end of the closing credits which states that Davis came back with "rare powders" that are being subjected to "intensive study in the United States and in Switzerland," and that, "apart from these facts," all other persons and incidents in this film are fictitious.


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