2015 was a bad year for losing great people from the horror genre. Perhaps most tragic of all was director Wes Craven. Creator of Freddy Krueger and director of countless horror classics such as A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Hills Have Eyes, The Last House on the Left, Deadly Blessing, Shocker and the Scream series, Craven was a legend and his death sent shockwaves among horror fans worldwide. When beloved icon’s pass away, people tend to dig back into their filmography and rediscover the work that they left behind as their legacy. In doing so for Craven, many people would inevitably come across a less known film of his called The Serpent and the Rainbow which has finally been released on Blu-ray thanks to Shout Factory.
Bill Pullman plays Dr. Dennis Alan, an anthropologist hired by a pharmaceutical company to travel to Haiti and find a drug used by voodoo practitioners to supposedly bring the dead back to life. But once in Haiti, Dr. Alan finds the country in a period of revolution and his presence not welcome by a feared Voodoo priest. His journey may not only reveal secrets of science but may take him on a personal journey through hell.
Ever since the release of The Serpent and the Rainbow in 1988 it has been my all time favorite Wes Craven film. The visual style and thick atmosphere of dread that Craven creates here is just unbelievably authentic feeling and unsettling. And Bill Pullman gives one of the best performances of his career. The film is based on a non-fiction book by Wade Davis and although screenwriters Richard Maxwell and Adam Rodman take many liberties from the book and make the third act a very horror movie exaggerated scare fest, it never detracts from the core story in the book and the real life journey of Wade Davis. And as I said, this may be the best looking film Craven ever made; it is hallucinatory, beautiful, nightmarish and terrifying. I consider it his masterpiece.
The new and long-awaited Blu-ray Collector’s Edition from Shout Factory is just stunning in picture and sound with an all new transfer, a brand new audio commentary from Bill Pullman, and a fantastic new making of documentary. All in all this is an amazing definitive edition of The Serpent and the Rainbow and is sure to please horror hounds and Craven fans thoroughly. Highly recommended.