Penile crucifixion. There. I said it. It's a glorious and haunting combination of words, is it not?
It's also the most memorable scene from Wes Craven's voodoo shocker The Serpent and the Rainbow. I saw this flick as a kid and to this day, even passing by a Home Depot makes my manly stuff feel nervous.Based on the works of Harvard ethnobotanist Wade Davis, Serpent takes zombies back to their Haitian roots. There's no military experiment or book bound in human flesh here. It's a mysterious zombie cocktail. Not the kind you'd order at Trader Vic's, but one born of tetradotoxin, something from the datura family of plants, blue diamonds, and purple horseshoes. As anthropologist Dennis Alan (Bill Pullman) gets closer to the source of the forbidden knowledge, he ears the ire of the locals. As in any good horror flick, pissing off the locals results in some truly heinous retribution. In this case, they don't poke a doll of him with needles or sell him skank weed. They strap him to a chair. And in an act that makes every male wince, they nail his junk to said chair.
Men's legs instinctively cross at this scene. Women chuckle. It's Craven operating at a level of sadism not seen since the original Last House on the Left. Since the media storm that resulted from the book and its follow-up, Passage of Darkness, some of Davis' conclusions have come into question. The books certainly make for interesting reading, but in spite of all of the high minded research and feats of anthropological derring do, all you'll think about is the hammer, the nail, and Bill Pullman's Little Bill.