|THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW (director/writer: Wes Craven; screenwriter: Richard Maxwell/A.R. Simoun/inspired by the nonfiction book by Wade Davis; cinematographer: John Lindley; editors: Glenn Farr/Peter Amundson; music: Brad Fiedel; cast: Bill Pullman (Dennis Alan), Cathy Tyson (Marielle Celine), Zakes Mokae (Dargent Peytraud), Paul Winfield (Lucien Celine), Brent Jennings (Mozart), Conrad Roberts (Christophe), Badja Djola (Gaston), Michael Gough (Schoonbacher); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: R; producers: David Ladd/Doug Claybourne; MCA/Universal Pictures; 1988)|
|"A solid supernatural voodoo
chiller that finely mixes
fantasy with real terror to provide the
required horror pic scares."
by Dennis Schwartz
A solid supernatural voodoo chiller that finely mixes fantasy with real terror to provide the required horror pic scares. It's co-written and directed by Wes Craven ("Shocker"/"A Nightmare on Elm Street"/"The Hills Have Eyes"), the horror pic maven, who sets it in Haiti (it was filmed on location). "Serpent" was inspired by Wade Davis' nonfiction book. The tantalizing screenplay is by Richard Maxwell and A.R. Simoun.
anthropologist Dennis Alan (Bill
Pullman), working for an American drug company
that's interested in making profits from a voodoo
powder that simulates the creation of the undead,
comes to Haiti to investigate if zombies can really be
created by drugs. Dennis gets romantically involved with
progressive psychiatrist Marielle Celine (Cathy
Tyson), who is troubled by the country's belief
in black magic and the widespread mental illness that
Marielle is the zealous reactionary police
chief Dargent Peytraud (Zakes Mokae), who lights
his stogie with a blowtorch and is at his acting best
when torturing his enemies. When Dennis senses a scam
mixed in with the truth about the powers of voodoo he
finds himself in a deadly battle with the villainous
police chief and the Tonton Macoutes, a thuggish goon
squad sent by the country's evil ruler.
special effects mainly work in keeping things creepy.
There's something to it even if the thriller never
gets too far in uncovering the pre-revolutionary
country's penchant for voodoo. Craven offers a
half-hearted attempt to give the voodoo climate a
political subtext, but never has much to say about the
country's 'reign of terror' under dictator "Baby
Doc" Duvalier. Nevertheless the film is entertaining
and atmospheric, and is an above average example of
REVIEWED ON 2/26/2015 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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