Halloween Scene: The Serpent And The Rainbow (1988)

the serpent and the rainbowFor some reason I thought I hadn’t seen that many Wes Craven films, but after looking through his IMDb page, I realized I’ve actually seen a fair number of his offerings. Still, the ones that always stick out are The Hills Have Eyes movies, his Nightmare entries and Scream. So, when I saw one of his movies that I hadn’t seen pop up on Netflix Instant, I figured I’d cross another one off the list. That’s how I came to The Serpent And The Rainbow.

This is one of those movies that I know of, but went in knowing zero details. As it turns out, Bill Pullman stars as Dennis Alan, an anthropologist who spends his time traveling from one remote place to another, usually running into various kinds of mystical or supernatural elements. In fact, the main thrust of the film finds him in Haiti dealing with voodoo after his bosses at the pharmaceutical company task him with figuring out what turns people there into zombies. To clarify, we’re talking about voodoo zombies which aren’t actually the living dead, but instead living people acting like the living dead.

I won’t get into too many details on this one because, honestly, it’s been a few days and I can’t quite remember many of them. Pullman narrates the whole thing like it’s a detective story which is actually an intriguing element for a story like this. I also enjoyed seeing a more modern take on the original zombie concept considering the only films of that nature I’ve watched are Val Lewton’s I Walked With A Zombie and the James Bond movie Live And Let Die.

And yet, at the end of the day, there wasn’t much about this movie that stuck with me. There was a solid sense of xenophobic dread all around in the film, but I didn’t really connect to Pullman or any of the other characters. As such, all the crazy dream sequences — which really are quite effective — weren’t enough for me to really get invested in the story. I guess that just goes to show that you need more than an interesting story to make a great film.

Halloween Scene: Sleepy Hollow (1999)

As I mentioned back in my post about Tim Burton’s awesomeness Sleepy Hollow is one of the two big Tim Burton movies I hadn’t seen. Well, considering it’s Halloween season, I figured now would be the time to finally give it a whirl. And, I liked it, but didn’t really love it.

Back in 1999 when this movie came out I was in high school and I think I remember my friends going to see Sleepy Hollow. I was probably working or something (that happened a lot), but unlike Halloween H20 I’m kind of glad I saw it now instead of back then. The reason for that is that a lot of this movie takes place kind of near where I live now (though, thank God, on the other side of the Hudson) and that’s pretty cool.

In case I’m not the only one who waited 10 years to watch this Tim Burton directed flick, it’s about Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) a forensic examiner from New York City who’s sent “upstate” (New Yorkers WOULD think that two hours north of them would be upstate, regardless of the fact that there’s another four or five hours of state) to investigate a series of murders in a place called Sleepy Hollow. It’s the headless horseman (played sometimes by Christopher Walken) terrorizing the small town and Crane has to solve the case and get past his obsession with facts, science and reality to see if there’s a real supernatural occurrence going on here. My huge high school crush Christina Ricci’s in it too. And the dad from Beetlejuice.

I’m not really sure what it was about Sleepy Hollow that didn’t really draw me in. It might be that I’ve got a lot of stuff on my mind lately. It might be that I’m a little bored with the casting of Johnny Depp as a weirdo. It might also be that I had a hard time figuring out whether the horseman was actually a supernatural being or not. I get that it’s a big part of the story, Crane’s struggle between science and belief (he’s a one man Jack and Locke from Lost), but it kind of felt like it went too long without nailing it down one way or the other. But I did like how, in the end, it was kind of a mix of the two.

So yeah, for whatever reason the combination of my youthful crush, one of my favorite directors and over a dozen decapitations couldn’t draw me in. I’m going to guess that it’s just a state-of-mind thing. I don’t really have any expectations for Jack-O and my mind is all over the place lately. I’ll definitely have to give this one another look in the future.