A Harvard anthropologist is sent to Haiti to retrieve a strange powder that is said to have the power to bring humans back from the dead. In his quest, the cynical scientist enters the rarely seen netherworld of walking zombies and ancient curses.
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Eight years before he scored a phenomenal hit with Scream, horror master Wes Craven made a worthy effort to "legitimize" horror with this chilling supernatural thriller, based on the best-selling book by Wade Davis. More ambitious than most horror films, this one allowed Craven to generate compelling plausibility with the fact-based story of a Harvard researcher (Bill Pullman) who travels to Haiti to procure a secret voodoo powder that places people into a state of simulated death. His investigation into the hidden world of black magic grows increasingly dangerous until he's caught in a living nightmare--a potentially deadly predicament that inspired the film's advertising tag line: "Don't bury me... I'm not dead!" Craven pays particular attention to authentic details of Haitian society and the role voodoo plays in Haitian culture, and the film gains additional atmosphere from location shooting in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Craven would, of course, continue to thrive by making more "conventional" horror films including Scream, but this remains a fascinating departure for one of the genre's most celebrated directors. - -Jeff Shannon
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