The Serpent and the Rainbow


The Serpent and the Rainbow

Critics Consensus

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Total Count: 33


Audience Score

User Ratings: 15,380
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Movie Info

Somewhat based on the true-life experiences of ethnobotanist Wade Davis, this provocative horror outing is set in Haiti and offers a fascinating look into the voodoo cult and the making of zombies. Davis' book was a serious examination of the zombie phenomenon, but the film adds plenty of horror elements to sensationalize it. He was sent to Haiti by a drug company to see if there was a pharmacological explanation for the walking dead, but once there, he finds that the practitioners and the locals will do anything to keep him from learning their secrets.


Bill Pullman
as Dennis Allen
Cathy Tyson
as Marielle Duchamp
Zakes Mokae
as Dargent Peytraud
Paul Winfield
as Lucien Celine
Conrad Roberts
as Christophe
Michael Gough
as Schoonbacher
Paul Guilfoyle (II)
as Andrew Cassedy
Dey Young
as Mrs. Cassedy
Aleta Mitchell
as Celestine
William Newman
as French Missionary Doctor
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Critic Reviews for The Serpent and the Rainbow

All Critics (33) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (21) | Rotten (12)

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

    Sep 25, 2007 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top Critic
  • Genuinely frightening.

    Sep 25, 2007 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Derek Adams

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • The Serpent and the Rainbow has a screenplay that often breaks its spell.

    Aug 30, 2004 | Rating: 2.5/5
  • 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.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • [Craven] seems wiser and more story-conscious -- but thankfully still full of the same surprises.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Serpent and the Rainbow

  • Oct 06, 2013
    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 T Super Reviewer
  • Sep 06, 2013
    Voodoo based horror apparently inspired by a true story. When a researcher comes back a bit fucked up after a trip to Haiti he gets sent back again(?!) to find a powder that is meant help bring the dead back to life, as has been reported in sightings in Haiti. Obviously he's going to need help and gets teamed up at the island with a pretty nurse-type lady but there are certain people and powers that don't want him there and in the mysterious world of voodoo, anything can happen. It's not that bad, Bill Pullman is pretty good as the researcher and it gets better as it goes on with some decent dream sequences, creepy bits and stuff and its directed by Wes Craven so wasn't going to be a complete waste of time. Worth a look but overall The Serpent and the Rainbow is a little dull for far to long.
    Adam M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 15, 2013
    Craven comes up with enough memorable images that I'm willing to forgive the ridiculousness of the whole story. Also, that "hammer and nail" sequence is one of the most upsetting things I've ever seen.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 12, 2012
    Cheap special effects and a distracting plot leave The Serpent And The Rainbow colorless.
    Matt P Super Reviewer

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