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The Serpent and the Rainbow

4.2 out of 5 stars 153 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Wes Craven (The People Under the Stairs, Shocker) directs this terrifying story of one man's nightmarish journey into the eerie and deadly world of voodoo. A Harvard anthropologist (Bill Pullman) is sent to Haiti to retrieve a strange powder that is said to have the power to bring human beings back from the dead. In his quest to find the miracle drug, the cynical scientist enters the rarely seen netherworld of walking zombies, blood rites and ancient curses. Based on the true life experiences of Wade Davis and filmed on location in Haiti, it's a frightening excursion into black magic and the supernatural.

Special Features

  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Recommendations

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Bill Pullman, Cathy Tyson, Zakes Mokae, Paul Winfield, Brent Jennings
    • Directors: Wes Craven
    • Writers: Richard Maxwell, A.R. Simoun
    • Producers: David Ladd, Doug Claybourne
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
    • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
    • Subtitles: French, Spanish
    • Dubbed: French, Spanish
    • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated:
      R
      Restricted
    • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
    • DVD Release Date: September 23, 2003
    • Run Time: 98 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (153 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B0000AOX0E
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,379 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "The Serpent and the Rainbow" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    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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    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.
    Comment 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
    An underrated gem from Wes Craven's filmography, "The Serpent and the Rainbow" was based on a non-fiction book ethnobotanist Dennis Allen (Bill Pullman) goes to Haiti to research and find a drug that creates the effect that someone is dead even to well trained doctors. When the person recovers, they believe that they are zombies and back from the dead. Allen wants to study the drug for its possible medicinal effect. Allen faces resistance and Captain Peytraud (Zakes Mokae in a compelling and sinister performance) a member of the dreaded Tonton Macoute uses every bit of superstition to try and scare away Allen.

    One of Craven's best made films, "The Serpent and the Rainbow" followed in the wake of "Nightmare on Elm Street" and didn't do quite as well at the box office due to the expectations set up by that film. Audiences came to see another "Nightmare on Elm Street" but what they got was a horror movie that was shot through with the political realities that Haiti faced during the revolution to free themselves from dictator "Baby Doc" Duvalier. There's a strong atmosphere of dread that hangs over the film like a massive cloud adding to the tension of Craven's film. For its time (and this point in Craven's career) "The Serpent and the Rainbow" was a daring move on the director's part.

    The high def transfer looks nice and is fairly true (as I recall) to the theatrical exhibition of the film. The presentation is most probably the result of the cinematography choices of director Craven The presentation is relatively clean and the interpositive used for this transfer looks quite nice.

    The audio is very active and will pull you right in to what you see on screen. The DTS-HD Master Audio stereo soundtrack sounds excellent.
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