A report by James Devine for Fansided.
Come on a Voodoo journey with us as we continue to look back on the movies that may have been forgotten or just need a little love. This one? It all starts with a Serpent and the Rainbow…
The year was 1985, anthropologist and researcher Wade Davis compiled research he had undertook and compiled it into a book titled “The Serpent and the Rainbow: A Harvard Scientist’s Astonishing Journey into the Secret Societies of Haitian Voodoo, Zombis, and Magic“, which contained studies on Voodoo, Zombies and poisons in Haiti.
Books were hot properties in the 1980’s, with studios taking options on adapting them to the big screen to see if they could equal the success of their paper bound counterparts. Mr Davis’ book was no exception and led to the production of the 1988 Film which took the shorter title “The Serpent and the Rainbow“.
The obligatory plot synopsis from the IMDB page:
In 1985, after a successful research in Amazonas, Dr. Dennis Alan from Harvard is invited by the president of a Boston pharmaceutics industry, Andrew Cassedy, to travel to Haiti to investigate the case of a man named Christophe that died in 1978 and has apparently returned to life. Andrew wants samples of the voodoo drug that was used in Christophe to be tested with the intention of producing a powerful anesthetic. Dr. Alan travels to meet Dr. Marielle Duchamp that is treating Christophe and arrives in Haiti in a period of revolution. Soon Alan is threatened by the chief of the feared Tonton Macuse Dargent Peytraud, who is a torturer and powerful witch. Alan learns that death is not the end in the beginning of his journey to hell.
Release and thoughts
The Serpent and the Rainbow was released in 1988 in 1430 screens for a total US domestic box office of $19,595,031 on a budget of just $7,000,000, making the movie a financial success. Critical response at the time was mixed, but one stand out review came from none other than Roger Ebert who gave the movie a solid 3 stars.
In my opinion, this is one of the better obscure Horrors out there that can fall into multiple genre categories, going from Fantasy, Horror, Thriller to Mystery through the 98 minute run time. The late, great Wes Craven was, and always will be, a master of the Horror genre, but he certainly knew how to mix elements of Fantasy with the brutality of Horror. You need look no further than Wes Craven’s own A Nightmare on Elm Street for the proof that the man can mix it up at the drop of a hat (or fedora for that matter).