The Serpent and the Rainbow (1987)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.


Movie Info

Horror maven Wes Craven attempted a slight change of pace from his usual slasher movie milieu with this chiller loosely based on a true story. Bill Pullman stars as Dennis Alan, a Harvard researcher sent to Haiti by a pharmaceutical company to investigate the zombie legend and any possible connection it might have to a rumored drug that could be used as a new breed of powerful anaesthetic. Once on the Caribbean isle, Alan is aided by a good voodoo priest or "houngan" (Paul Winfield) and his … More

Rating: R (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Horror
Directed By:
Written By: Richard Maxwell, A.R. Simoun, Wes Craven
In Theaters:
On DVD: Oct 10, 2000
Runtime:
MCA/Universal Pictures

Cast


as Dennis Allen

as Marielle Duchamp

as Dargent Peytraud

as Lucien Celine

as Christophe

as Schoonbacher

as Andrew Cassedy

as Mrs. Cassedy

as Celestine

as French Missionary Do...

as American Doctor

as Newscaster
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for The Serpent and the Rainbow

All Critics (28) | Top Critics (7)

Offers a few good scares but gets bogged down in special effects.

Full Review… | September 25, 2007
Variety
Top Critic

Genuinely frightening.

Full Review… | September 25, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Unfortunately, the political parallel between the ideological repression of Baby Doc's regime and the stultifying effects of the zombifying fluid is only sketchily developed, leaving us with a series of striking but isolated set pieces.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The Serpent and the Rainbow has a screenplay that often breaks its spell.

Full Review… | August 30, 2004
New York Times
Top Critic

[Craven] seems wiser and more story-conscious -- but thankfully still full of the same surprises.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

Take a powerful, revealing nonfiction book, sift through it for its most cliche'd elements and turn it into a terror film and you've got The Serpent and the Rainbow.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Serpent and the Rainbow

½

A very subversive film for its time, "The Serpent and the Rainbow" deals with the real world of zombie culture in Hait,i and its folklore. Craven appropriates the culture for the film but stays very true to the legends of zombification which have floated around for hundreds of years. He threads through a storyline about a mad zombie priest and his many followers. The story also has an American scientist, played by Pullman, who tries to use a zombification powder for medicinal purposes. The story isn't all that horrifying, because the villain of the story isn't all that frightening. What he can do is very scary, and the hold he has over others is horrifying, but he himself is just an old man with limited power. What makes the film entertaining are all the hallucinations that Pullman has, including getting sucked into the ground and being controlled, even from far away. For that reason Craven's film still stands as a very frightening exploration of Haitian culture.

FrizzDrop
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

When Bill Pullman is your most commanding presence, you can rest assured that the casting is pretty maladroit. In a precursor to the early 2000's torture porn, Pullman's scrotum is ruptured with a nail and aside from that unpleasant image, the film is piddling and not hair-raising in the least. Craven has always been an overpraised director of the horror variety and while the concept is brimming with occult potential, it is more suited to a documentary than a full-fledged chiller. To spice up the otherwise lumbering proceedings, Craven shoehorns a medley of hallucinations with corpse brides and reanimated zombies. None of these approach cohesion. All of the titillating genre elements are extraneous (the aforementioned dream sequences and a needless sex scene). In a career of monumental near-misses, 'The Serpent and the Rainbow' might be Craven's most bungled effort.

Cory Taylor
Cory Taylor

Super Reviewer

After directing some of the most legendary Horror films in the business, Wes Craven continues his streak of creepy horror films with The Serpent and the Rainbow, a film that is often overlooked. Using voodoo as his subject, Craven conjures a creepy horror film that has some intense moments and good scares. The Serpent and the Rainbow is a film that relies on its atmosphere to create its tension and steadily build up the horror. Set on a Haitian backdrop of Voodoo, and the undead, you get one creepy film. This is a solid offering from Wes Craven, and I thought it was a film that well crafted to bring on genuine scares. Bill Pullman and Paul Winfield were terrific in their roles, and I have to say, that this is one of the best roles that actor Bill Pullman has ever chosen. I think this is a terrific of horror cinema, and one that every Wes Craven fan should watch. A very creepy film with some terrific acting, make this a must horror film. An effective film, The Serpent and the Rainbow though has a few flaws which bring the film down a notch, but it's still good nonetheless. This is an awesome departure from Wes Craven's usual work, and overall is a solid and creepy horror film that will give you a few good chills. A terrific film, one that is underrated and quite possibly one of Wes Craven's best and overlooked films.

TheDudeLebowski65
Alex roy

Super Reviewer

The Serpent and the Rainbow Quotes

– Submitted by Noah G (3 years ago)

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