Now here's a horror
classic from the late 80's that I've always felt was extremely
underrated. Not because it's particularly gory or anything, but
because it's actually one of the few horror movies that I believe to
be genuinely scary. It is somewhat based on the bizarre experiences of
Wade Davis, so I suppose it's the whole believability of the story
that adds to the spookiness.
The premise of the movie
is that an anthropologist is sent over to Haiti to uncover the
mysteries of a "zombie powder" that is said to bring dead humans back
to life. Black magic and voodoo? Check. Zombies? Check. Wes Craven
back when he still made truly awesome movies? Check. Bill Pullman?
Check. Ok, now I'm no
big fan of Bill Pullman by any means. Sure, he was great in
Spaceballs, but that's because they wanted someone who would come
off as a bad actor just like Mark Hammil in the real Star Wars
movies. I'm sure he's a nice guy in real life 'n all, but he's one of
those guys who just can't seem to act or be interesting in any way no
matter what role he ends up playing. I mean, if you saw him as the
President in Independence Day, you probably wanted to punch him
in the nuts. Yet in The Serpent and the Rainbow, the terror he
experiences is quite convincing - so I guess that just goes to show
you how good a director Wes Craven really was in his prime. Anybody
who can manage to extract a convincing performance from Bill Pullman
clearly has talent.
The Serpent and the
Rainbow is filled with all sorts of nightmarish scenes; from voodoo
rituals to being buried alive with a fat-assed spider in your casket,
from waking up with a decapitated body to dreams of a zombie bride
that pukes up a snake which tries to eat your face... this movie has
Dargent Peytraud (played
by Zakes Mokae) is an evil man. Now when I say "evil" I mean he's
really evil. He's one of those bad guys that just does it a little
too well to where you wouldn't want to meet him in real life
because you don't believe anybody can really act that creepy without
some of that creepiness being real. He wants to stop
Dennis Alan (Pullman) from sticking his nose around town and trying to
learn about the secrets of the zombie powder. After Dennis ignores his
verbal warnings, Peytraud resorts to a far more influential way of
getting him to leave Haiti.
After being knocked out
by some of Peytraud's thugs, Dennis awakes to find himself strapped in
a chair in a dark room. Dennis asks him what he wants, and Peytraud
coldly responds, "I want to hear you scream." So Dennis starts
to put on a big screaming show, but Peytraud isn't convinced that his
warning will be heeded. So he gives Dennis an extremely unpleasant
parting gift to remind him not to return to Haiti...
He hammers a big nail
through his penis.
I remember the group I
was with when we first saw this movie and we all winced in unison and
immediately crossed our legs. Soon after, the film
cuts to a half-naked Dennis being thrown from a moving van. He lands
on the ground and writhes in pain over his bleeding crotch. Sure, I never thought Bill Pullman was a good actor, but a nail
hammered through his' slim jim? OW. Come on he's not so
bad that he deserves that.
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