Somewhere over the rainbow...
I had been wanting to see this movie since I first saw a clip of it in Bravo's “100 Scariest Movies Moments.” I wasn't quite sure what to expect. There is talk about zombies, but this isn't a zombie movie in the horror movie sense. These are traditional, voodoo zombies. They are in a death-like state, buried alive, and then rise from the grave, doing the bidding of a voodoo priest. Their souls are enslaved, but they are still technically alive and they are not munching on flesh.
The Serpent and the Rainbow is the story of Ethnobotonist/anthropologist Dennis Alan (Bill Pullman, Independence Day, Spaceballs). Allan travels to Haiti for to find a zombie-like drug that can be used as an anesthesia for a big pharmaceutical company. Assisted by the doctor Marielle, Alan delves deeper and deeper into the mystical world of voodoo. He is warned to leave and when he refuses to leave, he tortured by the commander of the Haitian secret police, Captain Peytraud. Despite all this, Alan learns how to make the drug and escapes back to the US with it. The distance is not enough to stop Peytraud as Alan is attacked by his boss's possessed wife. He heads back to Haiti to stop Peytraud, but is poision by the zombie drug and is buried alive. Alan must escape and put an end to Peytraud before he can kill Marielle.
My heart will go ooooooonnnnnnn
The Serpent and the Rainbow isn't your usual horror movie. You don't see voodoo too much in movies, especially nowadays. Witchcraft doesn't count. Most of the horror comes from dreams and visions, but there is plenty of real life terror as well. While there is no traditional horror movie creature, Peytraud is more of a monster than most vampires, werewolves, or aliens. I appreciated that the movie included the overthrow of Haitian dictator Francois Duvalier. It added a lot of context and purpose to the story.
The movie works because it there is an air of mystery going throughout the entire story. Questions like “What is the drug?” “How do you get it?” and “What does it do?” keep the viewer invested in the story and keeps us guessing. Fear of the unknown is a big factor in this film. Acting is solid all around and Pullman has a heck of a scream. The movie has some good makeup work and decent effects for the time. The movie is a little over an hour and half, but it felt longer. I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing.
No! Don't make me watch Sex and the City!
The Serpent and the Rainbow is a good all-around movie with a good story and a few scares. It you want a real movie, this is it. If you want lots of blood and monsters, look somewhere else. Beautiful sets, solid acting, and a good script make this a complete watch. I was a little disappointed that it wasn't a zombie movie, but enjoyed myself nonetheless. Its worth your time and non-horror fans can enjoy it as well.