The Serpent and the Rainbow

March 29, 2009

For the longest time, I thought this film was about vampires.

For years, the poster for The Serpent and the Rainbow hung in the window at Showtime Video and creeped the bejesus out of me. (This is Waller we’re talking about – the posters only got changed when they were stolen or someone peed on them.) The poster has Bill Pullman coming out of a coffin, in whiteface makeup, with what looks like blood on his forehead – totally vampires, right? WRONG – it’s about zombies and voodoo. I don’t know what serpents and rainbows have to do with zombies and voodoo – or vampires, for that matter, but I guess it’s a better film title than “Bill Pullman Goes to Haiti and Gets a Railroad Spike Through His Penis.”

Or maybe it was through his balls, I couldn’t really tell through all the wiggling and screaming. In any case, my husband was NOWHERE to be found during this scene, with good reason. Any time this film is mentioned in male company, the atmosphere turns somber – eyes are cast downward and the head shaking begins. Nothing makes a man turn introspective quite like damage to the babymaker.

Other than the aforementioned peepee skewering, The Serpent and the Rainbow is pretty boring stuff. The zombies do not eat brains. The Voodoo Master is pretty scary, but mostly because he has crazy eyes. The drug induced nightmares are kind of whacked out – they seem like what some of my friends report after taking Ambien. Maybe that shit was scary in the 80s, but we’ve got bigger fears in the 00s – drywall that emits a toxic gas, Chimpanzees ripping people’s faces off and Octo Mom. That’s WAY fucking scarier than a crazy voodoo master with smokebombs and a railroad spike.


Year – 1988
Rating – R
Runtime – 98 minutes
Genre – Supposedly Horror
Director(s) – Wes Craven
Writer(s) – Wade Davis, Richard Maxwell
Actor(s) – Bill Pullman, A Jaguar, Cathy Tyson, Zakes Mokae, Paul Winfield
BOB Rating – Two BOBs
Favorite Quote – "Don't let them bury me! I'm not dead!" - Dennis Alan (Bill Pullman)