The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988) Review

Horrorific content by adrian on July 09th, 2020 | Movie Review | Supernatural, Cult Classic, Back from the Dead, Psychological

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It's about a scientist who ventures into the Haitian underworld in search of a mythical zombification drug.

The Serpent and the Rainbow was directed by Wes Craven (who also directed/produced My Soul To TakeScream, Red Eye, Wishmaster, The People Under the Stairs and of course A Nightmare on Elm Street) and stars Bill Pullman (from Surveillance and The Grudge), Zakes Mokae (from Outbreak and Dust Devil) and Paul Winfield (from The Terminator).

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

The Serpent and the Rainbow is a Wes Craven cult classic that starts with an ominous intertitle: "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." This effectively sets the stage for what will be a movie about dark magic in general and zombification in particular.

One thing that immediately blew me away is how authentic and realistic this movie feels. Turns out it's because it was filmed on location in Haiti and actually had real Voodoo practitioners instead of random extras. The movie is also supposed to be based off a true story which was made into a book that inspired this movie.

So, the story itself is about a scientist sent to Haiti by a pharmaceutical company in search of a potion that is rumored to be able to bring the dead back to life. There's big money in preventing death so no expense was spared. Only problem is the guy unfortunately found what he was looking for and let's just say things didn't turn out so good for him. He gets cheated, drugged, threatened and even buried alive.

Watching Serpent and the Rainbow is like stumbling through a psychedelic hallucinogenic fever nightmare. There's so many unexpected and creatively disturbing scenes, my favorite being the one with the dead snake bride.

This movie really set the standard for Voodoo movies, I've yet to find one better. I personally always liked The Skeleton Key which is about New Orleans Voodoo/Hoodoo, but it just doesn't pack the same punch. Neither does Jessabelle, another Voodoo horror movie. Both are newer and have better effects, but there's just something about Serpent and the Rainbow. It's a quality 80's horror. Hell, it's a quality ANY horror.

Worth Watching?

Definitely, yes. It's a cult classic for a reason and part of my permanent horror library.

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