The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum
thevideovacuum

THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW (1988) **

Bill Pullman stars as an anthropologist hired by a pharmaceutical company to go down to Haiti to get the 411 on a zombification drug being used by a local witch doctor.  There he runs afoul of a corrupt voodoo practicing cop who warns him to get the fuck out of Dodge.  When Bill sticks around too long, the cop tortures him and then tosses him on the next flight out of Haiti.  A few days later, Bill stupidly opts to go BACK to Haiti where the witch doctor promptly puts him into a zombie trance and buries the poor dope alive.  Bill manages to get out of his shallow grave in the nick of time and sets out to whoop some witch doctor ass.

 

People say that this is an underrated Wes Craven movie but I say it’s just lukewarm and dull.  Craven treats the voodoo aspects of with deadly seriousness, which mostly zaps all of the energy out of the movie.  While I’m glad Craven respected voodoo enough to and try to make the flick feel as authentic as possible, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be “good” or “scary”.  The Serpent and the Rainbow is neither.

 

There is one standout moment when the bad guy drives a nail into Pullman’s nut sac but Craven wimps out and keeps it off screen.  He also gives us a needle to the eyelid, a needle in the cheek, a snake coming out the mouth, and a scorpion coming out the mouth.  We even get a pretty nifty scene in which a guy rips off his own head; which is something you don’t see everyday.  Despite these occasional moments of gruesomeness; overall The Serpent and the Rainbow just doesn’t work for me.  Here’s why:

 

Number One:  I wouldn’t be caught dead (or even undead) in Haiti.  You couldn’t pay me enough to go there.  I have nothing against the country personally; I just love the tranquility of Bumfuck USA and have no desire to travel outside the confines of the States.  (Now if I was paid to go someplace cool like Japan or Spain, I might reconsider.)  I say anyone who is damn fool enough to go to Haiti and rub elbows with witch doctors pretty much get what they deserve.

 

Number Two:   This movie has way too many dream sequences and bad voodoo trips to be effective.  It’s actually kinda irritating the more I think about it.  I mean Bill Pullman will see a snake or something and he’ll wake up screaming, then he’ll turn around and see another snake and he’ll wake up screaming again.  This shit gets old after awhile.  It’s as if Craven said, “Hey weird dream scenes worked for A Nightmare on Elm Street, so I’m going to pile them into this movie like clowns in a Volkswagen!” 

 

Number Three:  Okay, say that I DID go to Haiti.  Say that I did meet up with some witch doctor who drove a spike through my scrotum.  Do you think after all that I would be stupid enough to actually RETURN to Haiti?  That’s what makes the final act so illogical.  Would YOU come back to the place where you got your testicles tortured?  Didn’t think so.

 

Of course by giving this movie a negative review, I’m probably opening myself up for zombification here.  I can see it now.  A disgruntled witch doctor reads this and gets all pissed off at me for dissing this flick.  So what does he do?  He comes to my door and blows Zombie Powder in my face and turns me into a Zombie Reviewer so I’ll give favorable reviews any and all voodoo movies.  Now before you go and zombify me Mr. Witch Doctor Man; I want you to know that I did give *** ½ to I Walked With a Zombie and *** to White Zombie, which I consider to be the classics of the genre.  (That’s not even counting Live and Let Die either.)  Just think about that before you turn my brain into Jell-O. 

Tags: craven, horror, s
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