Long before Max Brooks and his ilk began the revival of zombie horror, a 1988 movie decided to take a very real look at Haitian zombies. While we mostly think of zombies as the flesh eating undead, that's not how zombies are portrayed in places like Haiti.
The Serpent and the Rainbow is a gripping story of a researcher's look into the very real world of Voo Doo and the use of rare and exotic plants to create a zombie. In popular Haitian lore, zombies are the living dead, but they don't eat people. They simply do the bidding of their Voo Doo master.
While Voo Doo brings ideas of magic and spirits, many of this can be attributed to its use of various plants and other items in its ceremonies. Zombies, for example, are actually living people that are given a drug to make it seem as if they had died, but when the drug wears off they “come alive” again.
The film is directed by Wes Craven and based on the book by Wade Davis. Davis is said to actually have traveled to Haiti and brought back some of the zombie power, but that everything else in the movie is completely fake.
As you can guess from a Wes Craven movie, it has its fair share of scary moments, but it isn't a supernatural movie. They are more looking at how strange and frightening the truth can really be. It stands out amongst other more conventional zombie fair and is a great film in its own right.