John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
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Blobbo creeped out. Blobbo like.
Authentic filming in Haiti and a compelling performance by Bill Pullman makes The Serpent and the Rainbow a memorable chiller from the late 80s. While this movie got a great deal correct about Haitian Voodoo, it does propose debunked myths about the drug tetrodotoxin (though scientific debate was still occurring on the matter at the time).
The serpent and the rainbow was a very good movie. Definitely a perfect horror film to enjoy. Bill Pullman did a terrific good job playing the role as his character. I thought Bill Pullman was great. I am a big fan of his acting. This is the one where it gets pretty traumatic and kind of scary where Bill Pullman gets buried in the ground in the casket and the guy who was trying to kill him has died. I liked the movie. I personally thought it was a great horror film.
After watching The Serpent and the Rainbow, I found that it was loosely based on a non-fiction book written by an ethnobotanist, who was poisoned, buried alive and revived in Haiti. I would never have suspected the source of this story could come from real life. Obviously the horror elements are added fiction, but the idea of a zombie drug that keeps you conscious but appear dead is terrifying. The film starts with the funeral of a man in Haiti, but the man reappears years later wandering aimlessly through the village. Bill Pullman is also travelling through the Amazon, he drinks some tea and has intense visions, including the man who buries the dead man at the funeral and he also sees his spirit animal; the jaguar. Pullman's character, Dennis Alan goes back home, but is soon sent to Haiti to investigate how a man who appears to be dead, actually survived. This is all in the hopes that a chemical compound that caused the man to appear dead and feel no pain, could be used in anaesthetics all over the world.
Dennis meets with a doctor and they team up with to find the man who came back to life. In the process, they come across several characters, people trying to rip them off, voodoo priests and the leader of a paramilitary group who is in charge in this area of Haiti. This happens to be the same man from Dennis' visions, and he warns Dennis to leave Haiti immediately. Of course he doesn't, and what follows is a deep dive into the horrors of voodoo, zombification and a corrupt government. Dennis' faith in science is tested as an increasing amount of supernatural events take place.
The use of wildlife throughout the film adds a natural scary element; spiders, snakes, scorpions and jungle cats. Bill Pullman actually worked with all of those actual animals, including the tarantula crawling on his face, which is quite the dedication to his role. The use of animals in the film complements the use practical horror special effects quite well. The same cannot be said for the use of CGI towards the end, which doesn't hold up well at all. There are numerous standout scenes, including the Evil Dead-esque bloodbath scene, all of the dream sequences, the scrotal torture and the entire burial scene. The part of the movie in which one of the characters is exposed to the drug and is buried alive is very menacing, claustrophobic and scary, but could have been more so if more time was allowed to pass before the issue is resolved.
Not many horror films also happen to be so political. The film is set during the revolt of the Haitian people against their President; Jean-Claude Duvalier. The atmosphere adds to the fish-out-of-water feeling of isolation that begins to descend the American main character. The riots and clashes between different groups at the time preventing the film from being completely shot in Haiti and production had to be shifted to the nearby Dominican Republic. An aspect that is interesting throughout is how voodoo is treated in the Haiti culture, and how there is an inherent fear and respect for it. Even today, over half of the population of Haiti still practice and believe in voodoo. The picture falls apart a little towards the end, which also happens to coincide with the reliance on special effects for scares. The plot gets a little shaky and as the ending it rushed to tie everything into a neat little bow. Perhaps if it had ended on a more ambiguous note, it could have kept some of that fear in its audience after the credits roll.
7 out of 10 Nails to the Scrotum
What Am I Doing in This Movie?
I'm not travelling to Haiti to investigate zombies on my own. I'm not staying after being threatened into leaving by a guy that tortures people. I'm not going to sleep, because a lot of the fucked up shit tends to happen while sleeping. I am going back to the Amazon to take hallucinogens and prance around in the jungle with imaginary jaguars.
Scary Terry's Scary Score - 2 out of 5
The Serpent and the Rainbow isn't scary in the way that most horror movies are scary. It's not some menacing villain hell-bent on slashing, it's not a bunch of ghosts or demons or monsters causing havoc, it's not even super suspenseful. What makes this film scary is the realism. The way it is filmed is very grounded in reality, the way that it plays on people's fears (spiders, snakes, a lack of control, being buried alive or confined, etc.) and that people actually believe in voodoo and still practice it today.
Enjoyed this film in the late 80s/early 90s as a teen. I like Bill and the fellow cast as well. Technology has changed as has the attention span of watchers. This is a great B flick. Take it for what it is and enjoy.
Er...it wasn't terrible?
Loosely based on a true story of a pharmaceutical company sending a representative to Haiti to uncover a possible drug that reanimates the dead. Relies too heavily on hallucinations for the horror elements, almost always a losing strategy. Shot on location in Haiti.
I found this to be very dull. I usually like Wes Craven as a director, but this film didn't live up to his normal efforts. They say this was inspired by a true story, but I find that extremely difficult to believe. It's not scary enough for it to truly be a horror, and it wasn't interesting enough for me to recommend it.
Everyone loves zombies nowadays, but most people don't realize that the original zombies were typically mindless corpses that were reanimated via voodoo magic. These Zombies didn't hunger for human flesh, but rather would just follow the commands of the priest that raised them from the dead.
The Serpent and the Rainbow deals with voodoo zombies and greatly benefits from it. The settings are great and the acting is well done. Overall, I enjoyed this film far more than I was expecting. 4 stars
A pretty good 80's horror flick even though it drags in places. Probably a must watch for true horror fans.