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Wes Craven directs this terrifying story of one man's nightmarish journey into the eerie and deadly world of voodoo.

A Harvard anthropologist (Bill Pullman) is sent to Haiti to revive a strange powder that is said to have the power to bring humans beings back from the dead. In his quest to find the miracle drug, the cynical scientist enters the rarely seen nether world of walking zombies, blood rites and ancient curses.

Based on the true life experiences of Wade Davis and filmed on location in Haiti, it's a frightening excursion into black magic and supernatural.

 Serpent And The Rainbow, The
The Serpent and the Rainbow begins initially like a zombie film without the moaning and eating of body parts. The film delves into the undead, voodoo and the creepy unknown of foreign cultures and the manipulation of biology via chemistry.

I hadn't seen The Serpent and the Rainbow for years and in fact wasn't entirely sure it was the film I thought it was when it first began but it wasn't very long into the plot before it all came flooding back and it's many creepy hallucinations plucked hard on my memory strings and took me right back.

The film is crammed packed full of creepy and unsettling visuals and ideas. Dreams within dreams, losing one's soul or just good old fashion real world mutilations and awful situations to be in. Then of course comes the infamous nail through the genitals scene and I remembered just how creepy I found this whole situation as a kid and it reminded me just how much voodoo played a part in the 80s and early 90s fear landscape, what with things like this, family friendly-ish Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, and even funner affairs like Child Play and Predator 2. Voodoo was a mainstream fear inducer. Where did all the properly dark voodoo go from our movies? Time for a resurgence I reckon.

 Serpent And The Rainbow, The
Craven crafts an interesting discussion around the human soul, life and death and of course the corruption of power and if that's not enough for, there's some genuine scares to keep you on your toes. This all makes the film constantly engaging and keeps you locked into solving the mystery of these "zombies" in what is legitimately a god-damn scary prospect of being pronounced dead and buried alive, unable to let anyone know you're actually still alive.

 Serpent And The Rainbow, The


The image here has some strong primary colours but it's still a generally dark looking affair until we get out in the rainforest. Overcast skies don't really help anything pop at times and because of that sharp edges sometimes struggle to really show off unless there's some strong lighting, either natural or artificial.

However when the lighting is strong, which is generally a lot as the film progresses, detail holds up very well. Both exterior and interior scenes manage to look really realistic, warm and bright. Skin textures glow, reflections in eyes and surfaces pop well and shadowing can often look deep and strong, though there are a handful of scenes where black doesn't quite hit pure black. This can give a softer look to the more muted scenes but this is minimal compared to an otherwise great looking, though obviously 80s production

The presentation is a clear upgrade when considering the films age, though it's not always exactly super sharp and bright like a modern HD production. That said the image is clean, colours are varied and bright and there's a strong sense of depth in some of the early jungle scenes and even some of scenes that are clearly on set.

 Serpent And The Rainbow, The


The score manages to feel layered and fairly wide considering it's a simple stereo track. It's nice and clean but not all that powerful even though it still generates a strong eerie mood when it needs to.

The balance of the track is a little score heavy but the dialogue and indeed any sounds used feels much reduced when compared to the score. Because of the stereo track it's all very frontal sounding and small because of it but some scenes, such as the tribal dance ending with an attempted murder can bring multi elements together well to provide an overbearing audio assault (well within the confines of 2.0 at least).

The only thing holding back this track is the films age and stereo source which is clearly much smaller than a modern audio presentation.  however, even with all that said, this is a  pretty solid track really and it never does anything that reduces the film's jumps, creepy feeling or uneasy unravelling plot.

 Serpent And The Rainbow, The


Other than a trailer the extras here are a no show, which is a real shame as there's a fair bit about the film that I would have liked to see.

 Serpent And The Rainbow, The


I hadn't seen The Serpent and the Rainbow for years and until this rewatch the film was sort of a distant memory from my youth which I probably couldn't even had told you the title of but the story had stuck with me due to its scary voodoo elements and quite deeply disturbing imagery at times.

The Blu-ray is quite a nice presentation, boosted in all the right ways even if it's not spectacular compared to other HD releases of older films, The same goes for the audio which leaves the lack of extras the only real disappointment here which is a shame as it lets down an otherwise great revisit to an old Craven flick.