The Serpent and the Rainbow Blu-ray

Sunday, 03 May 2015 23:00 Written by 

The Serpent and the Rainbow - out now on Blu-ray and DVDDirector Wes Craven ("Scream", "A Nightmare on Elm Street") gives us his take on the zombie genre, putting a refreshingly different spin on it. Bill Pullman plays Dr Dennis Alan, an anthropologist hired to investigate rumours of a mystical drug that can kill and then bring the dead back to life. A biochemical company is interested in exploiting the compound, so Alan flies to a politically unstable Haiti despite being troubled by a sense of creeping dread.

Alan finds allies in Dr Marielle Duchamp (Cathy Tyson - "Mona Lisa") and a voodoo priest called Lucien Celine (Paul Winfield - "The Terminator"), but there are plenty of unsavoury characters seeking to dupe him, obstruct his research or worse. Chief among these is Captain Peytraud of the Tonton Macoute, the Haitian secret police. Petraud (Zakes Mokae - "Outbreak") dabbles in dark magic to capture his enemies' souls.

For the most part, Craven's movie has a fairly realistic feel to it that plays like a travel docu-drama, possibly helped by being loosely based on the experiences of writer Wade Davis. The cast includes hundreds of extras and scenes of Haitian festivals and rituals evoke a nice sense of atmosphere and culture. As the film progresses, however, and Dr Alan's mission becomes more dangerous, events spiral out of control and the horror takes a more fantastical twist, reminiscent of the director's Elm Street pictures.

Pullman is cannily cast as a pretty normal, vulnerable scientist, a duck out of water in a strange, bewildering and often hostile land. There is good chemistry between him and Tyson's character, with solid support from Brent Jennings ("Moneyball") as a sly witch doctor and Michael Gough ("Batman") as Alan's employer back in Boston.

Some of the visions our hero experiences are very memorable, such as when he imagines himself being buried alive in a coffin filling with blood, and a particularly spooky encounter with a decrepit zombie-woman who spits a massive snake out of her gaping mouth. There is also a torture chair that chases Alan around! The special effects are generally good, and as with the chair, sometimes raise a laugh as well as a scare.

I recommend this film to horror fans looking for something a bit different. The action is sometimes a little chaotic but definitely offers enough thrills and intrigue to keep the audience captivated.

The only special feature is a trailer. The Blu-ray version reviewed has plenty of detail and really brings out the bold colours of the sets and the Haitian costumes.

“The Serpent and the Rainbow” (1988) is out now on DVD and Blu-ray, courtesy of Fabulous Films. The main feature has a running time of 94 minutes approx, carries an '18' certificate and retails for £9.99 on DVD and £14.99 on Blu-ray, or less from


Last modified on Tuesday, 05 May 2015 09:25

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