The Macabre Month of Horror 2013 movie review #2 Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)


serpent poster

The Serpent and the Rainbow is an absolute horror classic from master of horror Wes Craven. The movie just feels like a classic. It´s the kind of horror movie that just doesn’t get made anymore, and that´s a real shame.

The Serpent and the Rainbow is based off of a book of the same name. The author of the book, Wade Davis, only agreed to sell the rights to his book under the pre-requisite that Peter Weir would direct the film and that Mel Gibson would star in it. You kind of feel bad for Wade Davis because neither of those men had any relation to the film.serpent and rainbow 1

The Serpent and the Rainbow can be considered a zombie film, but not in the traditional George A. Romero flesh-eating sense.

Let me give you a quick history lesson on zombies –

I get very annoyed when people are afraid of a zombie apocalypse happening in real life. Zombies as we know them were a figment of George A. Romero’s imagination. Night of the Living Dead was the birth of the modern zombie. Before that there was only White Zombie, and in that they were not traditional zombies, but instead they are basically slaves who are mind controlled by Bela Lugosi, which is much closer to the truth. The true roots of ¨Zombies¨stems from Haitian voodoo, in which people from Haiti would be put into a mind controlled, zombie like state. The serpent and the Rainbow tackles the Haitian voodoo type of zombie.

This is a very interesting topic that isn’t tackled very often. The fact that the horror can somewhat translate to real life can work to make it more frightening, or at the very least convince you to never vacation in Haiti.

wes craven

The location is used really well. The movie was filmed on location in Haiti and due to the civil turmoil in the area, the local peacekeepers informed the cast and crew that they could not guarantee their safety. The filming relocated and finished shooting in the Dominican Republic. The culture of the area is worked into the movie and it really adds to the film.

serpent and rainbow 2Bill Pullman stars in The Serpent and the Rainbow and he does a really great job. His acting is better than most horror movies to come out around that time. He get’s quite a beating throughout the film. He tumbles down stairs and falls all over the place, he get’s buried alive, or alive-ish, he get’s attacked by various jungle animals, harassed by the local militia, drugged with zombie powder, hell he even get’s his dick nailed to a chair.

serpent nailed to chairYou really feel bad for the guy. He goes through so much. He get’s the crap beaten out of him, over and over again but he keeps trying. He keeps failing too, but he tries, and that’s what matters. Or maybe it doesn’t matter, once you get your dick nailed to a chair it’s probably time to pack it in.

The strange thing is that later on in the movie after he gets his dick nailed to a chair, he has a sex scene. That’s a little weird.

The Serpent and the Rainbow is part scientific adventure film and part mind trip horror film. Wes Craven shows that he is a master of horror with this film. The horror works really well in this film, aside from some slightly awkward fire and telepathic effects towards the end.

Something that makes the horror work really well, is that the horror shots hang just a little longer than you see in most movies. Let me explain; there are a few “Scare moments” that you can see in other films i.e. Someone being dragged into the ground, someone in a room being flooded with blood, etc.

serpent blood bathThe Serpent and the Rainbow continues with the shots after most films would have cut away. When a person is being dragged into the ground, you see his entire body go through the grass and watch as he is pulled through dirt and roots down a giant pit. When a person is in a room being flooded, the shot doesn’t cut until the blood goes above the actor’s mouth, and covers their eye’s and eventually begins to drown them. It’s the extended length of these shots is what elevates The Serpent and the Rainbow above other similar horror films.

Perhaps the best aspect of The Serpent and the Rainbow are the drug induced freak out scenes. These scenes are crazy, over the top, and wildly imaginative. They are similar to the dream sequences Wes Craven did for the Nightmare onserpent and rainbow freak out Elm Street series. These freak out scenes are a blast to watch and are the definite highlight of the movie. It’s a messed up trip, just seeing all the crazy, freaky, weird stuff that Wes Craven throws on-screen. It’s an assault on the senses, which sounds like a bad thing, but quite the contrary. These freak out scenes are actually probably some of my favorite horror scenes from any movie.

The Serpent and the Rainbow is horror classic, that sometimes goes unnoticed. Do yourself a service and watch this movie if you haven’t already seen it. In fact, even if you have seen it, watch it again. It’s one of my favorite Wes Craven films and that’s saying something. The Serpent and the Rainbow is a bona-fide horror classic.


Check out The Serpent and the Rainbow, you can buy it from amazon with this link right here and keep coming back all October long for a new horror review everyday with this years MACABRE MONTH OF HORROR.



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