Saturday, March 3, 2018

Craven More: The Serpent and the Rainbow

You do that voodoo that you do so well.  Today's Film is The Serpent and the Rainbow, an undeniable Cult Classic from Wes Craven.  Apparently its Soundtrack is super-rare to boot- so go hunting Vinyl Nerds!  If you don't know, the Film is about a man going to the source of some Voodoo stuff going on in Haiti.  Why?  Big Pharma, of course!  You have to really love a Film where Big Pharma is somehow the Secondary Hero of a tale.  Our *actual* Hero finds out that there is more truth than fiction going on here.  The Film is centered around actual strife in Haiti, which apparently also affected the actual Production.  They moved to a nearby Island to shoot the rest of this as a result.  This one is famous for its freaky moments and visuals.  After 30+ years, does it still hold up?  Let's find out together...
Dennis here is a guy who works for a big Pharmaceutical Company and helps them find rare materials for their drugs.  So he's the guy that Connery is trying to be in Medicine Man?

Incidentally, the Film is 'Inspired by' the Book of the same name, but I don't know what they changed.
After a bit in Mexico- setting something up for the Ending-, he is hired to go to Haiti to investigate a case of a real-life Zombie.  What medicinal value could there be?

The Police Chief from CSI is his Boss, while his friend is Alfred from the Batman Films to boot.
He discovers that there is something dark going on in Haiti and the man in charge is up to no good.
Investigating the case, they find the Zombie and learn what happened.  He was buried alive, but freed before his mind broke from the stress of it.  He's still not exactly well, but he is living proof.
Since they are trying to unearth the Zombie secret, our Hero and a Doctor are constantly in trouble.  They briefly hide out in the nearby Jungle and things happen.
And now for something completely different.

Back in the City, our Hero is captured and tortured by the bad guy.  Let's just say that they put a nail through something that you don't want one in and next to something a guy wants nothing sharp nearby.
After lots of pain and danger, he gets the Zombie Powder and goes home.  However, the bad guy is still using Voodoo to get at him, so he returns to stop him and save the Doctor.

He's immediately-grabbed, of course, setting up the one visual that is very dated about this Film...
He tries to get help from a good Witch Doctor, but ends up buried alive as a Zombie.  Tough week!
Thankfully, he's saved by the previous Zombie and goes to rescue the Doctor during a coup on our Villain.  After some freaky, freaky stuff, he manages to channel his Panther Spirit Guide- set up in Act 1- and eventually save the day.

So I guess Zombie Powder is now used for good Medicine...or something.  The End.
A good, but sometimes uneven trip.  It's easy to see why The Serpent and the Rainbow is a Classic- and a Cult one at that.  It is a Wes Craven Film, which, barring some Scream Sequels, is almost always a good time.  The Film is shot well and feels authentic.  When it has to deliver- like the Voodoo stuff- it really does.  That said, the Film suffers from some problems.  The constant push-and-pull between Plots can be jarring.  One minute they're learning about Zombie Powder and the next minute, we get scrotal torture.  I guess I can mark 'scrotal torture' off of the List of phrases I never thought I would write.  On top of that, the Villain can't just be a bad Warlord running a corrupt Police State- he also has to be a Master Witch Doctor.  It is just too convenient to the Story that he is both.  It would be more understandable if the Film had him as the main Villain who *employed* a Witch Doctor.  Disregarding the question of how he controls such a person- most likely a kidnapped relative-, this allows the Story to be less convenient/lazy and still get the pay-off it wants.  There's also the issue of the whole White Savior thing, which the Film mostly avoids until the end.  It doesn't ruin the Film- but it doesn't help things either.  If you can accept the uneven Story at times, the big draws are absolutely worth it.  I'll leave you with this bit of Trivia.  The Film was Produced- in part- by Rob Cohen.  You know, the guy behind The Fast & The Furious, xXx, Alex Cross and the upcoming Hurricane Heist.  Can you see it?
Next time, a 2007 Action/Horror Film that somehow has 2 Sequels.  Will this Outpost be worth the trip?  Stay tuned...

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