It happened after the third disastrous sneak preview of "The Serpent and the Rainbow."
Exec producer Rob Cohen, producer David Ladd and director Wes Craven sat around, trying to drown their sorrows in bourbon. Then they took to talking over their pic's problems--and listing suggestions for changes on a napkin.
One month and $500,000 worth of alterations later, they were at preview screening No. 4. And. . . .
"We made it," Cohen told us. "You could feel it from the first frame, as if it was a plane taking off. The audience was with us. And they liked what they saw.
"It goes to show, you should never give up on a movie."
The $10.5-million picture ($10 million in its pre-sneak days), opening Feb. 5 in more than 1,000 theaters, is based on the real-life horrors uncovered by anthropologist Wade Davis, who discovered a nightmarish situation in Haiti involving voodoo and zombies. Filmed there before the current political mayhem, it revolves around the country's bloody dictatorships (based on the real life Duvalier father-son regimes)--and their use of voodoo to intimidate the populace. Tactics included the administration of powerful, ancient poisons that left victims zombie-like.