SEPTEMBER 6, 2014

RAWHEAD REX (1986)

One of my favorite Clive Barker short stories from his seminal BOOKS OF BLOOD collections, RAWHEAD REX is given a mediocre at best adaptation and suffers from bizarre direction, chintzy special effects and hammy acting. 


A farmer unwittingly releases the titular Rawhead Rex, when he removes a large stone from his field that was used to keep the ravenous Pagan God imprisoned for centuries. 


Now free, the once and future king goes on a bloody kill fest chomping on anything and anyone unfortunate enough to cross his path. His bloodlust is insatiable and the younger the victim the better. 


Regrettably, Howard Hallenbeck (David Dukes) and his family are visiting the (previously) idyllic town and his son Robbie soon makes a convenient amuse bouche for King Rex. This spurs Howard into revenge mode. 


He gets help from Reverend Coot (Niall Toibin) when they both discover that Coot’s fellow man of the cloth Declan O’Brien (Ronan Wilmot) has become a disciple of Rawhead Rex by happily submitting to a baptism by…ahem…urine. 


Directed by George Pavlou, the film is a mess and looks and feels cheap. Rawhead Rex himself is a somewhat interesting design (but nothing like the description in the short story), unfortunately his head is so static that he looks like a bad Halloween costume. 


What made the short story so interesting was its sexual subtext and that Rex himself was a physical personification of a phallus with femininity and womankind itself being his weakness. The film barely touches on this and because this aspect is missing, the film has been reduced to a fairly standard “monster on the rampage” tale. 


Clive Barker (who wrote the screenplay) has disavowed this film and so should you, if you’re unlucky enough to actually track down a copy.