Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

The Serpent and the Rainbow is one of Wes Craven's better movies though it's fallen through the cracks to an extent.  It's loosely based on the experiences of  an ethnobotanist named Wade Davis who spent some time in Haiti investigating a case of a man who apparently was turned into a zombie.

Bill Pullman stars as Dr. Dennis Alan who is a scientist in much the same way that Indiana Jones is an archaeologist.  A little action than research, if you know what I mean.  We first meet him in the Amazon where he is given a potion that connects hm to his protective totem (a jaguar) and after this bit of strangeness we find him being sent over to Haiti to investigate the mysterious reappearance of a man thought dead.

He gets assistance from Marielle (the lovely Cathy Tyson) and a local witch doctor named Mozart (Brent Jennings) but is opposed by Dargent Peytraud, a nasty piece of work who works for the government and is played very well by the late Zakes Mokae.  Things get a little convoluted towards the end but the bad guy is defeated and good triumphs.

This is a fascinating zombie movie in that rather than having hordes of undead flesh eaters chasing our heroes around, the threat comes more from the human element while the zombie aspect is downplayed and made more eerie than gory.  To give you an idea of what I mean, the scariest scene comes when Peytraud interrogates our hero and convinces him to leave Haiti after nailing a spike through his scrotum.

Yeah.

Performances are solid across the board with the standout being Zakes Mokae.  Mokae was a fantastic South African stage and screen performer and here he just oozes malice, giving us one of the nastiest little shits in film history.  Paul Winfield is also good as another man who helps Pullman and Michael Gough puts in a cameo as one of the men who sends Alan on his quest.

The Serpent and the Rainbow is a great throwback to the older zombie movies that came out before Night of the Living Dead like White Zombie.  With voodoo featuring heavily into things, it gives the film a different feel, a surreal quality that makes the film about ten times creepier than it would be otherwise.

That being said, the film does get confusing at points and lacks energy, though this doesn't hurt it to the point of making it not worth your time.  It's definitely worth a glance.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.