1988 Drama-Horror
Story A Harvard medical researcher (Pullman) goes to Haiti to bring back a powder capable of appearing to kill a person but allowing them to be resurrected later. He runs headlong into the exotic culture and political turmoil of the country. A book written by Harvard scientist Wade Davis was the inspiration for this film. Davis identified two of the drugs used to create "zombies".
Cast Bill Pullman, Cathy Tyson, Zakes Mokae, Paul Winfield, Brent Jennings, Michael Gough
Director Wes Craven
Producer Keith Barish
Screenplay Richard Maxwell and Adam Rodman. Based on "The Serpent and the Rainbow" by Wade Davis.
Pullman role Dennis Alan
Released February 5,1988 USA
Background This was Bill Pullman's third movie. He found it a somewhat harrowing but unique experience because of "the strange and exotic culture, [and] the danger . . . there was a riot of 2,000 extras." He describes it all as "mysterious". This was the first film in which Pullman had a lot of fantastic elements to react to that would be added later. In those sequences he finds that "there are times of just abandoning yourself to a scene [and] just having the confidence to live in your imagination." One fantastic element not added later was the leopard Pullman wrestled with. Because the film was made outside the United States, it was possible to use a real leopard. Pullman was safe with the leopard as long as he made no sudden movements.

Director Wes Craven saw this story as that of a Westerner trained in the scientific method and empirical wisdom attempting to study a culture "that couldn't be understood that way." When Pullman met author Wade Davis, he was struck by the uncanny similarities between them.

The fillm was shot on an island across from the Dominican Republic after the Haitian government told the film crew they couldn't guarantee their safety due to political strife. The film looks exotic, beautiful and scary. In his review Roger Ebert said: "The visual look of the movie is stunning" with the appearance of "a camera moving past real people in real places."

Bill Pullman married Tamara Hurwitz just before making this film. He brought his new wife on location. She has a cameo in the nightclub scene: she is the blond who puts a needle into the mouth of one of the dancers.

copyright 1998 Mary Cochrane McIvor