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The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

 -  Horror  -  5 February 1988 (USA)
6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 14,353 users  
Reviews: 70 user | 60 critic

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

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(inspired by the book), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988) on IMDb 6.4/10

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Cathy Tyson ...
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Badja Djola ...
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Aleta Mitchell ...
William Newman ...
Jaime Pina Gautier ...
Julio (as Jaime Piña Gautier)
Evencio Mosquera Slaco ...
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Storyline

Dennis Allan is a scientist who visits Haiti on the strength of a rumour of a drug which renders the recipient totally paralyzed but conscious. The drug's effects often fool doctors, who declare the victims dead. Could this be the origin of the "zombie" legend? Alan embarks on a surprising and often surreal investigation of the turbulent social chaos that is Haiti during the revolution which ousted hated dictator "Baby Doc" Duvalier. Often a pawn in a greater game, Alan must decide what is science, what is superstition, and what is the unknown in a anarchistic society where police corruption and witch-doctory are commonplace. Written by Murray Chapman <muzzle@cs.uq.oz.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Don't bury me...I'm not dead!

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

5 February 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Serpent and the Rainbow  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$7,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$19,595,031 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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. See more »

Goofs

At Captain Peytraud's first meeting with Dr. Alan, Peytraud wears his full Haitan Tonton Macoute uniform including a row of several award ribbons. All of these ribbons are in fact United States armed forces decorations - clearly visible are the Vietnam Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, Air Force Overseas Ribbon, and the Army Good Conduct Medal. See more »

Quotes

Lucien Celine: Whatever happens, death is not the end.
See more »

Crazy Credits

[Opening card] In the legends of voodoo the Serpent is a symbol of Earth. The Rainbow is a symbol of Heaven. Between the two, all creatures must live and die. But because he has a soul Man can be trapped in a terrible place Where death is only the beginning. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Ritual (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Llamándote
Performed by A. Charles Dessalines
Courtesy of ADC Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A Touch of Style

I remember watching "The Serpent and the Rainbow" in a cinema when it opened 12 years ago, and although it did not strike me as a masterpiece, I never forgot it. I had always had a memory of it as a good horror film, but tonight I saw it again on television and I was impressed about how good it is. One may associate Wes Craven with "Scream" or "A Nightmare on Elm Street", but this one is certainly one of his best films. I still see it as an adventure film with horror elements, but this time I found it full of style -a touch of documentary approach, clever use of colorful locations, good handling of massive scenes with many unprofessional extras, attractive ethnic art direction, a bit of grand guignol in some performances (mainly Zakes Mokae), humor and a sensitive and sympathetic approach to a different culture. Many times one sees American films dealing with others' cultural aspects -such as political affairs and religion-, without any respect or concern. It is true that "The Serpent and the Rainbow" is not a serious drama about people's revolt, or a tract on synchretic religions (such as Cuban santería, Haitian voodoo or Brazilian candomblé), but both aspects are not just décors, but elements well integrated to the story in its own terms -that is, in a low budget feature, whose main objective is to entertain and scare the audience. The so-called "South" is such an exotic locale for most First World filmgoers, that cultural "details" often pass unnoticed, because these persons seem to be too obsessed with their own "cinematic hedonism". Craven knows it, and that is why he makes foreign tourists applaud when they have seen a real possession, thinking it is just part of Paul Winfield's show. One of the reasons that this film is good is the script. Someone mentions in another comment how cleverly it introduces more than one level in a single scene: for example, when Dennis and Marielle are looking for Christophe in a cemetery, they not only meet grave robbers for scaring effect, but they also discuss about the possibility that Marielle is using Dennis to obtain funds for her hospital, and the scene fulfills its expectation: they find Christophe, who tells them about the mysterious 'powder'. What turns off some viewers -and myself, in a way- is the cinematic forms that take all the things dealing with energy and human capacity for evil. They are sometimes too gross, others just plain funny or ridiculous; but this is a Craven film, and they did not detract me from the main objective I mentioned earlier. Besides, there are other things I enjoyed watching the film again. First, to see once again the Bill Pullman whom I used to enjoy so much (remember the dumb blond in "Ruthless People"?) when he was beautiful and had not turned into the dull American president of "Independence Day." I also recognized elements I've witnessed. A lot of the things that you see and hear in this film are not just fiction (after all it is based on a "true" story): they are all part of many Caribbean cultures -from the sensuality of the islanders, to the rite in the river, or the powder itself. And believe me: the powders work! Not only for making zombies, but also for many other things. Don't ask me how, I do not know how they do it, but I have seen them work (in Cuba -no joke intended)! So beware.


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Anybody been to Haiti? gurgledog
One of Craven's greatests, but... JackForrester
Creepy....Just flat out creepy jesse_s_138_98
ANyoen know where i can find this film? DevilsAndDragons
Wade Davis's 1985 Book - The Serpent + the Rainbow antimusick
Why? wolverine3390
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