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The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

 -  Horror  -  5 February 1988 (USA)
6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 15,034 users  
Reviews: 72 user | 61 critic

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

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(inspired by the book), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988) on IMDb 6.4/10

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Cathy Tyson ...
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Badja Djola ...
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Aleta Mitchell ...
William Newman ...
Jaime Pina Gautier ...
Julio (as Jaime Piña Gautier)
Evencio Mosquera Slaco ...
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Storyline

Dennis Allan is a scientist who visits Haiti on the strength of a rumour of a drug which renders the recipient totally paralyzed but conscious. The drug's effects often fool doctors, who declare the victims dead. Could this be the origin of the "zombie" legend? Alan embarks on a surprising and often surreal investigation of the turbulent social chaos that is Haiti during the revolution which ousted hated dictator "Baby Doc" Duvalier. Often a pawn in a greater game, Alan must decide what is science, what is superstition, and what is the unknown in a anarchistic society where police corruption and witch-doctory are commonplace. Written by Murray Chapman <muzzle@cs.uq.oz.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

5 February 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La serpiente y el arco iris  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$7,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$19,595,031 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Due to political strife and civil turmoil in Haiti during the production, the local government informed the film crew that they could not guarantee their safety for the remainder of the shoot. The crew subsequently relocated to nearby Dominican Republic to complete filming. 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: When you wake up scream, Doctor Allen. Scream all you want. There is no escape from the grave.
See more »

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 Welshy Reviews: Red Eye (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Ma Bouya
Performed by Tabou Combo
Courtesy of Mini Records
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Interesting, But Could Be Even Better
5 October 2004 | by (Athens, Greece) – See all my reviews

The best thing about "The Serpent and the Rainbow" is probably the topic it covers: Not known to the general public (including me, until I watched the film and researched the subject a little more afterwards), the so-called zombies, which legend has it that they are people who were condemned by sorcerers to become living deads, are in fact nothing more than the victims of a special powder thrown to them, whose active ingredient is a substance which is now well-known by scientists worldwide. This substance has the effect of rendering the person in a dead-like state (no ostensible breathing, moving, etc.), while his brain is still lively (which means that the horrified person is even able to understand what surrounds him, without being able to do anything about it); in such cases, an inexperienced doctor claims the person deceased, and he is then put into a grave. When the effect of this substance starts to diminish after 12-24 hours, the sorcerer is usually there to undig the completely shocked and shattered person, convincing him that he is now his zombie-slave.

The movie is based on a true story by a scientist (Pullman) who went to Haiti, a country were such practices were rife, in order to get his hands on this substance and provide it to his employer, a pharmaceutical company, in order to analyze it and use it as an anaesthetic. In his quest he was assisted by a female local psychiatrist (Tyson), who treated several "zombified" people. However, he soon realized that things were much more complicated than that, as the police chief (Mokae), who used this zombie-trick as one of his suppression tools, was quite unhappy with this intrusion.

Although based on a very interesting story, the movie goes a bit far and becomes a typical horror film, full of black magic, terrifying visions, etc. In my opinion, it would be much better if the plot sticked to the basics, as from some point onwards everything (and especially the ending) becomes too unconvincing.

The cast does a fair job, despite the fact that it includes actors not widely known. The make-up and scenery produce and impressive atmosphere, traveling the viewer to the mystifying secrets of Haiti.

Grade: 7/10.


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