An anthropologist travels to Haiti to find a drug that's
used to turn people into zombies in voodoo rituals.
The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)
Directed by Wes Craven
Written by Richard Maxwell and Adam Rodman
Starring Bill Pullman, Cathy Tyson, Zakes Mokae, Paul Winfield, Brent Jennings, Conrad Roberts, Michael Gough, Paul Guilfoyle
Based on the book by Wade Davis
Wes Craven was the definitive name in horror for decades. His contributions to the genre are unmatched, and his take on the underground world of voodoo is just as terrifying as you'd expect from the man who gave us Ghostface and Freddy Krueger. The Serpent and the Rainbow shows audiences a part of the world that's often forgotten. Craven shows us one of the darkest and most realistic depictions of voodoo I've ever seen, and with Bill Pullman's charismatic performance, it's no wonder this film has since become a cult classic.
Pullman plays Dr. Dennis Alan, an anthropologist sent to Haiti to discover a mysterious drug that's being used to somehow turn people into brain-dead zombies. No one knows what it is, or where it comes from, but a pharmaceutical company wants to market it. Dennis gets lost in the world of voodoo after pissing off the wrong people, namely head of the secret police, Dargent Peytraud (Mokae), a terrifying villain with great and terrible power. Soon, Dennis becomes a believer after witnessing a number of horrors, including a freaky torture scene that will stay with me for a while. This film works both as a voodoo horror movie and a political film about the civil unrest in Haiti. Both sides of the story are equally horrifying and impossible to escape.
The Serpent and the Rainbow isn't talked about as much as Scream or Nightmare or Last House, but it's one of Craven's creepiest movies. It may not be that scary and at times, it's a bit over the top, but the visuals are haunting and the story is engaging. This film is a must-see for any serious horror fan.