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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.

Director:

Wes Craven

Writers:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Bill Pullman ... Dennis Alan
Cathy Tyson ... Marielle Duchamp
Zakes Mokae ... Dargent Peytraud
Paul Winfield ... Lucien Celine
Brent Jennings ... Louis Mozart
Conrad Roberts ... Christophe
Badja Djola ... Gaston
Theresa Merritt ... Simone
Michael Gough ... Schoonbacher
Paul Guilfoyle ... Andrew Cassedy
Dey Young ... Mrs. Cassedy
Aleta Mitchell Aleta Mitchell ... Celestine
William Newman ... French Missionary Doctor
Jaime Pina Gautier Jaime Pina Gautier ... Julio (as Jaime Piña Gautier)
Evencio Mosquera Slaco Evencio Mosquera Slaco ... Old Shaman
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Fantasy | Horror

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French | Spanish

Release Date:

5 February 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La serpiente y el arco iris See more »

Filming Locations:

Boston, Massachusetts, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$7,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,848,000, 7 February 1988, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$19,595,031
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Dargent Peytraud: This country lives on the edge, Doctor Alan. One weakness in the wrong place and over it goes right back into slavery again, just like with the French. The United States would like anarchy here, I'm sure. Well this isn't Grenada, Doctor Alan! I'm here now! There are people like me who'll make sure that doesn't happen. You'll remember that.
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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 »

Connections

Referenced in NCIS: Head Case (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

For horror fans
5 January 2005 | by sparklecatSee all my reviews

Wes Craven's "The Serpent and the Rainbow" is one of the more original and ambitious horror movies to come out of the '80s. Not only does it seek to reconnect cinematic zombies with their voodoo roots, ala classics like "White Zombie", but it also uses the creation of zombies as a political allegory. The film is set in Haiti during the last days of the dictatorship of "Baby Doc" Duvalier.

Based - very loosely one surmises - on a true story, the plot follows Dr. Dennis Alan (Bill Pullman) as he investigates a powder that is said to turn people into zombies. He is aided in his quest by Dr. Marielle Duchamp (Cathy Tyson), who he quickly falls for, and Louie Mozart (Brent Jennings) an expert in voodoo. Dargent Peytraud (the chilling Zakes Mokae) is the snarling villain of the piece, a man with sinister powers both government-sanctioned and supernatural.

The film abounds with creatively gruesome imagery - a man is buried alive, screaming, in a coffin as it fills with blood, a fiendish hand reaches out from a bowl of soup - this is one of those rare films that genuinely makes your skin crawl. Horror fans should not miss it. It's a shame that the film runs just a little longer than it should and becomes disappointingly routine in its final moments.

There is a sense that this movie was aiming a bit higher than it ending up reaching. I can't quite hold that against it.


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