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Serpent & the Rainbow [VHS]

127 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Bill Pullman, Cathy Tyson, Zakes Mokae, Paul Winfield, Brent Jennings
  • Directors: Wes Craven
  • Format: Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English, French, Spanish
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Universal Studios Ho
  • VHS Release Date: August 31, 1999
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6301094999
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #266,967 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

An anthropologist goes to Haiti after hearing rumors about a drug used by black magic practitioners to turn people into zombies.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Michael R Gates VINE VOICE on October 28, 2003
Format: DVD
Before venerable horror maven Wes Craven directed the highly acclaimed SCREAM trilogy, many serious and critical fans of horror cinema considered THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW to be his masterpiece. Not only is the direction tight and top-notch, but the acting is superb--Bill Pullman and Cathy Tyson are quite convincing as the endagered principals, with excellent character actors like Paul Winfield, Zakes Mokae, and Paul Guilfoyle fleshing out a wonderful supporting cast--and the story is sufficiently tense and creepy. It is one of the few horror films to deal with voodoo practices in a serious and non-condescending manner, often compared by film critics and historians to Jacques Tourneur's classic voodoo flick I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (1943).
Much ado has been made concerning the uneveness of this effort from Craven, particularly how the film supposedly jumps back and forth between horror and straight drama. However, these inaccurate interpretations likely stem from a misunderstanding of Craven's use of his source material, anthropologist E. wade Davis' non-fictional book THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW. It is true that Craven and his scriptwriters were INSPIRED by the book--which is a TRUE account of Davis' infiltration of Haiti's voodoo culture in search of a plant-based sedative reputedly used to create "zombies"--but the plot of the film is NOT, as many believe, a visual retelling of the book. This is clearly evidenced by the fact that the main character, ethnobotanist Dennis Alan (excellently played by Bill Pullman), is not named after the author of the aforementioned book. Add to this the film's numerous supernatural and magical plot elements and it should be easy to comprehend that this is indeed a FICTIONAL horror film.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By D. R. Cromwell on April 10, 2007
Format: DVD
Bill Pullman (you may know him from Independence Day) stars a Harvard Anthropologist who is sent to Haiti to investigate some of the holistic drugs and plants that the natives use. While in Haiti he is given a strange mixture that shows him his sacred animal and it guides him back to saftey after he has horrific visions. Once he returns to the States he is hired by a desperate drug company to return to Haiti and find a plant that is supposed to bring the dead back to life. When he returns to Haiti he is dragged into a web of voodoo rituals and rites that may engulf him forever...

The main problem I have with this film is the direction by Wes Craven. He hasn't quite grasped the fact that sometimes the scariest moments don't come from special effects. This movie should work, and it should work very well. It doesn't. Even though Craven was given a better than average screenplay to work from, from an even better novel, he messes up every chance he has to truly bring this film to the next level.

While better than your average horror film it could have been great. A classic even. Bill Pullman gives us a great performance as he usually does. If Craven did only one thing right with this film it is the atmosphere. He has created a truly bleak and harrowing atmosphere around the whole used up voodoo plotline. From the strange Amazon rainforest style music to the casting of the minor roles the atmosphere is pitch perfect for this film. As most everyone knows, Craven would go on to do great things in the genre (well at least succesful things) and make a name for himself as a horror master. This is evidence of the better things that would follow. While I have mixed feelings about it, you should check it out.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John Lindsey VINE VOICE on October 2, 2008
Format: DVD
Dennis Allan (Bill Pullman) is a Harvard anthropologist who just came back from the jungles of South America has been given an assignment to go to Haiti to find a formula which is rumored to bring the dead back to life and can be useful. On his trip, he falls for a female doctor (Cathy Tyson) who's father is a voodoo priest named Hougan (Paul Winfield) as he finds out that the secret of reanimating the dead which can bring deadly results when it comes to Alan.

Loosely based on a true story and a book by Wade Davis, this is a very fascinating and strange film from Wes Craven that is one of his most underrated movies yet. He makes a non-traditional zombie movie in the "E.C. Comics" mode and explores the secrets of vooodoo with the myth behind bringing the dead back to life. It also has the tradition of a classic Hammer film including masterpieces like "White Zombie" to it, Bill Pullman was ahead of his time making a good performance as the anthropologist. The movie has some intense and memorable moments such as the "I want to hear you scream" sequence which will make male viewers cringe, the make-up effects are alright and the storyline is quite solid. This is a more different zombie movie then your typical George Romero or "Return of the Living Dead" movie, i recommend it for fans of zombie movies and supernatural flicks.

This DVD has great picture with good sound and picture with the only extras being a Craven Bio and Theatrical Trailer.

Also recommended: "Cemetery Man", "Pet Sematary", "An American Werewolf in London", "The Return of the living Dead 1 2 and 3", "Dawn of the Dead (1978 and 2004)", "Tales from the Hood", "Re-Animator", "Day of the Dead (1985)", "White Zombie", "Bride of Re-Animator", "Candyman", "Hellraiser 1 & 2", "Versus", "Zombie (a.k.a.
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