Wes Craven's 1988 film – much like its counterpart at the time, Angel Heart – explored an increasing cultural interest in the practice of voodoo.
Based upon a book by anthropologist Wade Davis, the film follows Bill Pullman as a researcher sent to Haiti by a pharmaceutical company to uncover a drug used in voodoo ceremonies. In the film, as in real life, the drug produces a "zombification" effect – in actuality, a powerful anesthesia – mimicking death and reportedly opening the victim's mind to the hypnotic effect of religious rituals. While the film descends farther into the realm of the supernatural, the real-life incident is based in part on the story of Clairvius Narcisse who was allegedly dosed with the drug (a combination of pufferfish and toad venoms) before being buried alive.
When retrieved from the ground, Narcisse was supposedly given a home-made brew called Datura Stramonium, making him complacent and ostensibly "mindless." He was then forced to work on a plantation for two years before the owner, his captor, eventually died and Narcisse was able to walk away to recover from the drug's effects.
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Season 3 of Paranormal Witness is coming in 2013!
Watch TV's scariest show as Season 2 of Paranormal Witness airs Wednesdays at 10/9c.