Blu-ray Review: The Serpent and the Rainbow (Collector's Edition) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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The Serpent and the Rainbow

Studio: Scream Factory

Feb 26, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Hired by a deep-pocketed pharmaceutical company, anthropologist Dennis Allen (Bill Pullman) is sent to Haiti to procure a drug that’s rumored to turn living humans into “zombies.” After hospital records seem to show that several natives who had at one point been declared dead (and buried) have been found alive again, years later, wandering around their villages, the skeptical Allen ventures deep into the country with the hopes that the drug—if it exists—could have some greater medical purpose. Shortly after arrival, he runs afoul of the captain of the military police, who is also a voodoo practitioner—and learns there’s more truth to the rumors than he ever anticipated.

Wes Craven’s 1988 horror film was an admirable effort to put the voodoo back in zombie mythology. The Serpent and the Rainbow took the monster back to its roots, away from the popularized undead flesh-eaters of our post-Romero world, and back toward the mind-controlled slaves of old Haitian legend. It was also an effort by Craven to distance himself to branch out a bit; the movie has as much in common with adventure films like Indiana Jones and King Solomon’s Mines as it does his previous horror films.

While there are plenty of scary moments, anyone approaching this looking for the typical, shambling brain-munchers will be disappointed. (The zombies themselves actually appear far and few between.) Much of the creep factor comes courtesy of Allen’s terrifying visions and frequent nightmares, which introduce a lot of surreal and hard-to-shake images into the film. Unfortunately, the movie goes a little off-the-rails during its finale, where it becomes almost as silly as the endings to Craven’s Shocker or the numerous Nightmare on Elm Street films. For a movie that went so far for realism as to shoot on location in Haiti, it’s a shame the film tosses all plausibility out the window for a ridiculous, effects-heavy final showdown.

Shout!’s new Collector’s Edition of Serpent and the Rainbow includes an audio commentary from Bill Pullman and a new Making Of documentary, which features interviews with the author of the source material, the film’s DP, and members of the special effects team. Fans of the film will have much to be happy about, and anyone interested in a different take on a zombie tale should certainly give it a look-over.

Author rating: 6/10

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