”Don’t bury me . . . I’m not dead!”

IT’S a long way from a Harvard ethnobiologist’s thoughtful
account of his search for exotic Haitian medicinal potions to a film with the
advertising slogan ”Don’t
bury me . . . I’m not dead!”
But in fact these two sides of
”The Serpent and the Rainbow” aren’t as different as they sound. Wade Davis’s
fascinating 1985 book is much more an adventure story than a scientific tract,
and the film is the work of Wes Craven, whose horror credits (”A Nightmare on
Elm Street,” ”The Hills Have Eyes”) give an incomplete impression of his
talents.

http://movies2.nytimes.com/mem/movies/review.html?_r=1&title1=SERPENT%20AND%20THE%20RAINBOW%2c%20THE%20%28MOVIE%29&title2=&reviewer=JANET%20MASLIN&pdate=19880205&v_id=43768&oref=slogin

N.Y. TIMES REVIEW

Film:
‘Serpent and the Rainbow’

By JANET MASLIN

Published: February
5, 1988, Friday

LEAD: IT’S a long way from a Harvard
ethnobiologist’s thoughtful account of his search for exotic Haitian medicinal
potions
to a film with the advertising slogan ”Don’t bury me . . .
I’m not dead!”
But in fact these two sides of ”The Serpent and
the Rainbow” aren’t as different as they sound. Wade
Davis’s fascinating 1985 book is much more an adventure story than a scientific
tract, and the film is the work of Wes Craven,
whose horror
credits (”A Nightmare on Elm Street,” ”The Hills Have Eyes”) give an
incomplete impression of his talents.

If ”The Serpent and the
Rainbow” never fully convinces its audience that the dead can walk, it’s not
for lack of trying. Nor is it without the efforts of an excellent cast, one
that raises this far above the level of ordinary exploitation. Bill Pullman
plays Dennis Alan, a raffish scientist who,
like Mr. Davis, visited Haiti in hopes of learning the secrets of what the film calls
”zombification” and got more than he bargained for.
Zakes Mokae
is especially memorable as Alan’s chief antagonist, the head of the dreaded
Tontons Macoute security force, who displays menacingly bared teeth at all
times, even when speaking – with the greatest sarcasm imaginable – of ”happy,
happy, happy island people.”

This
film, like much of Mr. Craven’s other work, is about crossing the line that
separates nightmare from reality,
a line that seems especially
thin in this setting. Handsomely photographed (in both Haiti
and the Dominican Republic),
and with a strong sense of spectacle, ”The Serpent and
the Rainbow” creates a climate in which voodoo seems very much at home. The
ease with which seemingly rational characters slip into trancelike states is
illustrated by Marielle Celine, a psychiatrist played by Cathy Tyson, the
stunningly regal star of ”Mona Lisa.” While witnessing a voodoo dance ritual,
Marielle becomes caught up in the dance as if possessed; later on, she brings a
similiarly eerie abandon to a moment of sexual rapture.

Mr. Craven, whose ”Elm
Street” films slip frighteningly into and out of
dream logic, builds this film’s most alarming moments out of seemingly normal
situations. A demure hostess at a dinner party may just offer a toast, grab a
knife and then lunge at a man across the table, whose nightmare this happens to
be; the people in this man’s waking life may become interchangeable in his most
hellish visions. Mr. Craven’s attempts at such effects are always gripping, but
here they are sometimes overpowered by the complexity of the material. The search for the zombifying elixir, the influence of the
Tontons Macoute, the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship and the mysterious
powers of voodoo sometimes run together in a manner less provocative than
confusing.

”The Serpent and the Rainbow,”
which opens today at the Movieland and other theaters, also has a screenplay
that often breaks its spell. When a dazed-looking, catatonic woman with a
hairdo like Whoopi Goldberg’s is identified as ”a classic zombie” early in
the story, for example, Alan is forced to remark rather superfluously ”Well,
she sure can’t tell us anything.” Things aren’t much
better when the talk turns philosophical, although a sorcerer named Mozart
(nicely played by Brent Jennings) sounds the right note of mystery and menace.
When Mozart crafts the zombie potion out of puffer fish and human skulls, the
film sounds the note of ghoulishness for which Mr. Craven is best known; the
same is true when Alan is tortured brutally by Mr. Mokae’s memorable villain.
At
moments like this, the film’s greatest unanswered question becomes why doesn’t
Alan just go home?. Waking Nightmares THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW, directed by
Wes Craven; screenplay by Richard Maxwell and A. R. Simoun, inspired by the
book by Wade Davis; director of photography, John Lindley; film editor, Glenn
Farr; music by Brad Fiedel; production designer, David Nichols; produced by
David Ladd and Doug Claybourne; released by Universal Pictures. At Movieland,
Broadway at 47th Street; Manhattan Twin, 59th Street east of Third Avenue; 23d
Street West Triplex, at Eighth Avenue; Metro Twin, Broadway at 99th Street;
Movie Center 5, 125th Street between Powell and Douglass Boulevards; Essex, 275
Grand Street. Running time: 105 minutes. This film is rated R. Dennis Alan…
Bill Pullman Marielle Celine… Cathy Tyson Dargent
Peytraud… Zakes Mokae Lucien Celine… Paul Winfield Mozart… Brent Jennings
Christophe… Conrad Roberts Gaston… Badja Djola

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Bien,
acaba de fallecer en
Tampico mi abuelo “genético”. ¿Cómo lo
puedo definir en una palabra? Distante, eso. ¿Qué lecciones de vida me ha
dejado? Mmmmm. Varias, lástima que todas sean insustanciales, tal
como una injuria que anda rondando por
ahí. Chin. ¡Qué mala leche!

¿Ya les había comentado que mi abuelo compraba “religiosamente” el Kalimán?
Pues, lo que sí tengo que aceptar es que era muy lector. Recuerdo que, ya
cuando nos habíamos mudado y teníamos casa propia, un día el Rico y yo nos
metimos a su cuarto en el tercer piso y nos “carranciamos” unos libros, yo me
leí (a memoria) dos: La antipsiquiatría y las mil y una noche eróticas. Creo
estos libros eran impresos por los mismos de la revista DUDA. Sobran las explicaciones,
del tipo de filosofías en las que
andaba el “patriarca” Salas.

Lo que sí
parece haberle resultado muy bien es la dieta. Lo mantuvo un buen de años
saludable. ¿Qué preparaba? Mmmm. Hacía un menjurge en alcohol de ajo y cebolla
que, parece fue muy efectivo, ya que llevo a la tumba a mi abuela y varios de
sus vástagos antes que él. Ya una última porque no hay mucho que decir de mi
“abue”. También me acuerdo que nos la curabamos chido porque después de cada
opípara comida, la remataba con una expresión más o menos así: Ejemmmm Mauuuu.
Ja. Hasta mi jefe se lo repetía y lo hacía desatinar gacho. Punto final.

M@rcongénito,

Norwich, U(n) K(alimán)

25/3/07

Estación Colonias, Manuel,
Soto La Marina, Una carnita asada, Retenes militares, San Fernando, la
desviación a Reynosa, El 22, La sexta, Soriana, el paso a desnivel, el
auditorio Nuevo Amanecer, HEB, la sección 16, Deltrónicos, Rigo Tovar, Dulce,
la del Rocha, el viejo Hinojosa, la vía del tren, el puente viejo, Los Tomates,
La lucero, las canchas de la Bancaria, la copa, los hot dogs tipo Tampico, un
cabrito asado, los primeros narco satánicos, el cartel del Golfo, playa Bagdag,
unos taquitos de papa, el Chasco, el Correcaminos, el tec, la AT&T, las
maquilas, los coyotes, $0.25 por cruce, la green card, una tarjeta de
residencia, el consulado en la primera, el Ñangas, el Israel, Zaida, Héctor,una
troca patona, una lobo del año, un huevo con machaca, un caldo de res pa’l
frío, Garcías, el semáforo fiscal, un reconocimiento aduanero, el Uriel, un cocker
crema, un pitbull, la calle Morelos, Chela, el Bravo, la Española, el proceso
retrasado, unas placas fronterizas, una camioneta nacionalizada, una caja de
discos, unas hamburguesas al carbón, South Padre Island, Los tres reyes, el
Toro sports, Amigoland Mall, La Highway, el Golden Corral, hambre de
rinoceronte, el Santa Fe, un contrato telefónico abierto, Spring Breakers,
validar los pedimentos, una pizza mondo, unas cuatas, dos varoncitos
fallecidos, un tío y un paisano, varios lavacoches, deudas con hacienda, una
bodega gringa, el sunrise mall, un six de Budweiser, un vestido de novia de
McAllen, unas ejecuciones a plena luz del día, … El Chuletón.

P.D. Lo
que sea de UNO, que sea de TODOS.

P.D.1. "…
my KINGDOM is NOT of this WORLD." – John
18:36 (NIV)


Charles Milles Maddox.

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