The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

R  |   |  Horror  |  5 February 1988 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 16,677 users  
Reviews: 78 user | 87 critic

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 »
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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!




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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:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


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 »


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 »


Dennis Alan: Don't let them bury me! I'm not dead!
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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 »


Ma Bouya
Performed by Tabou Combo
Courtesy of Mini Records
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User Reviews

An entertaining, detailed thriller
27 July 2000 | by (Seattle, WA. USA) – See all my reviews

One of Wes Craven's best, "Serpent and the Rainbow" is as much a psychological thriller as a horror movie. Some horror fans may find it too slow (it takes its sweet time to come to a climax) but it's worth it... the journey is entertaining and interesting. This is a polished, professionally filmed movie with higher production values than the average for its genre.

I've never seen a film before that went quite so in-depth into the subject of voodoo. Filmed on location in Haiti, this movie goes into a lot of detail about various voodoo practices and introduces the voodoo versions of the good and evil magician, the houngon and the bocor. If you have any interest at all in this subject matter (or the supernatural in general), I recommend the movie on that basis alone.

Acting is uniformly solid throughout, if nothing really outstanding. We do not come to care very deeply about these characters, so their trials, tribulations and deaths do not bother us much... but Craven's attention to detail really shows, and there isn't a moment of this movie that lacks entertainment value. 7/10.

44 of 46 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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