The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

serpent and the rainbow poster 1988 movie
4.5 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 5/10

Don't let the bury me...I'm not dead!

Average movie with average acting, average story, average visuals

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Serpent and the Rainbow

Studio: Universal Pictures

Genre(s): Horror

Release Date(s): February 5, 1988

MPAA Rating: R

serpent and the rainbow bill pullman dont bury me im not dead

“Don’t let them bury me…I’m not dead!”

Dennis Alan (Bill Pullman) works for a medical company as an ethnobotanist and anthropologist looking for the next big drug.  When Alan and his backers learn about a possible real case of zombie drug in Haiti, Alan is sent to investigate.  With the help of a local doctor Marielle Duchamp (Cathy Tyson), Alan begins to investigate cases of people being declared dead, returning to life.  Alan’s investigation catches the attention of the head of the Haitian military force named Captain Dargent Peytraud (Zakes Mokae) who also happens to be a powerful hougan…now, Alan is a target and may have to face his greatest fears.

Directed by Wes Craven, The Serpent and the Rainbow is an adaptation of Wade Davis’ 1985 book of the same title.  The book was allegedly based on actual events (more the research aspect than the story aspect), but Davis was not happy with how the final project turned out by upping the horror aspect.  The movie was released to mixed reviews and a relatively strong box office return.

When The Serpent and the Rainbow was released, everyone talked about how scary it was.  I can remember even debating seeing it because of the ideas seemed pretty terrifying.  Watching it now, it is kind of boring and the movie’s pacing isn’t great.  The Serpent and the Rainbow feels like it misses a great opportunity.

serpent and the rainbow corpse bride

If your bride looks like this now picture her in 20 years…

The first half of the movie is pretty uneventful.  Pullman meets with another witch doctor, gets drugged, plays with a jaguar, and then heads to Haiti.  The Haitian portion of the movie also begins slow and mostly relies on the “freak factor” of voodoo which of course has people eating glass, sacrificing animals, etc.  They do work to explain the true basis of some of the voodoo practices, but then it goes to the zombie part of the movie which does have the freaky buried alive moment (a fear by many), but then it is just Pullman having weird visions…it just isn’t very compelling.

The acting throughout the movie is pretty flat.  Pullman is fine, Tyson is fine, Mokae is fine.  There isn’t really anything to make the movie stand out and be remembered.  This is a shame because there are some good people involved in the film.

serpent and the rainbow burnt hougan zake mokae ending

Crispy…like a marshmallow

The setting is interesting and filmmakers shot some of it in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, but it isn’t really a movie about the scenery (though that waterfall place was pretty impressive).  Compared to movies with current big special effects, the visions are kind of tame. If The Serpent and the Rainbow was made now, there would be tons of computer generated things flying out the characters (in 3D of course)…It is nice to see some old style effects, but they aren’t as trippy as you’d expect them to be.

The Serpent and the Rainbow is one of those movies you probably saw and have since forgotten.  Even if you had positive memories of the film, looking back, it isn’t that good.  I hope with all the remakes that The Serpent and the Rainbow isn’t on that list…Please bury it…it’s dead.


Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response