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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.



(inspired by the book), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
1 nomination. See more awards »



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


In 1985, after a successful research in Amazonas, Dr. Dennis Alan from Harvard is invited by the president of a Boston pharmaceutics industry, Andrew Cassedy, to travel to Haiti to investigate the case of a man named Christophe that died in 1978 and has apparently returned to life. Andrew wants samples of the voodoo drug that was used in Christophe to be tested with the intention of producing a powerful anesthetic. Dr. Alan travels to meet Dr. Marielle Duchamp that is treating Christophe and arrives in Haiti in a period of revolution. Soon Alan is threatened by the chief of the feared Tonton Macuse Dargent Peytraud, who is a torturer and powerful witch. Alan learns that death is not the end in the beginning of his journey to hell. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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


Fantasy | Horror


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





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Release Date:

5 February 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La serpiente y el arco iris  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$7,000,000 (estimated)


$19,595,031 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Wes Craven confirmed in interview that unlike some of his previous films, his first cut of The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988) got R rating without any problems by MPAA. See more »


The necklace Lucien puts on Dennis' neck before he got poisoned changes the positions between shots. However, in a lower position from back view, higher position from front view. See more »


Marielle Duchamp: The way Dr. Schoonbacher spoke of you, it was as though you could walk on water! Now I know why. Shit floats!
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 »


Referenced in Roulette Stars of Metro Detroit (2016) See more »


Performed by A. Charles Dessalines
Courtesy of ADC Records
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Zombies in modern times, would you expect the movie to be good?
19 July 2001 | by (Earth,3rd planet of system Sol) – See all my reviews

Much to my surprise, this film was actually an excellent horror flick, one that I plan to watch again some day. I am glad a friend of mine recommended the movie to me, I am just hoping others will find the time to look into it.

Even more, if the story actually is based on a "true story", I will shudder at the thought of it...

25 of 38 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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