Fantasy, Horror, Monsters, Supernatural

Rawhead Rex (1986)

Comments Off on Rawhead Rex (1986) 15 November 2017

RawheadRex

Studio: Kino

Theatrical Release: April 17, 1987 (USA)

Blu Ray Release: October 17, 2017

Director: George Pavlou

Not Rated

Review by James Klein

Fans of Clive Barker’s novels and films are well aware of Rawhead Rex. Rawhead Rex was a short story in the third volume of Barker’s Books of Blood series about a demonic monster who looks like a 9 foot tall phallus, unleashed by a farmer who wrecks havoc across the land but fears women who are on their period or pregnant (ohh Clive you sick bastard). The story is pretty gruesome (Rawhead rips the testicles off a policeman at one point) which in 1986 would be difficult to bring to the screen. The film version, while tamer and on a very low budget, still tries it’s best at keeping the high body count along with some decent bloody kills to make for a fun Friday night viewing, although there are some head-scratching moments that can cause confusion. 

Trapped in a grave by a large unmarked headstone, a farmer accidentally releases the demon Rawhead Rex from his grave by pulling out the stone in his field. Buried alive for centuries, Rawhead Rex is hungry and roams the Irish countryside looking for human flesh and blood to chow down on.

Our hero is Howard Hallenbeck (David Dukes from The Men’s Club) an American historian on vacation with his family as he composes research on religious artifacts (it’s rather unclear what he seems to be doing). Howard comes upon a church where a stained glass window illustrates the terror of Rawhead Rex and when he questions the strange Reverend O’Brien (Ronan Wilmot from In the Name of the Father) he is told by the Reverend to “get the fuck outta here.” Little does Howard know, the good Reverend was struck by lightning from one of the stained glass windows which has turned him insane and a protector of Rawhead Rex. 

Yeah the screenplay isn’t very clear and pretty muddled. There isn’t much explanation or history behind this blood lust monster aside from a few throwaway lines. There is the typical police/authority figures who don’t believe Howard until it’s too late but in all honesty this film is meant to watch for the various kills done by Rawhead Rex with each kill becoming more and more gruesome and gorier. Even certain kills don’t make much sense as Rawhead at one point pulls a woman from a trailer who suddenly loses her clothes (Rawhead Sex!) before she is killed and the crazed Reverend getting pissed on by Rawhead before his jugular is bitten into. 

Clive Barker has gone on record as saying he hates the film as his short story is very different than what was put on film aside from the basic premise. The film starts to focus on Rawhead’s fear of pregnant women but it is never explained, leaving the viewer confused. But Barker has no one to blame but himself as he was the one who wrote the screenplay. While the look of the monster is very different from his story, I happened to like the design of Rawhead although there are too many close up shots of the monster where one can tell the actor is just wearing a more sophisticated Halloween mask. In a time where every horror film is getting remade, Rawhead Rex could use a re-doing as long as CGI keeps their damn ugly hands off the film. A more faithful adaptation would be most welcomed. 

Kino’s blu ray release looks and sounds absolutely stunning. The Blu-ray case features reversible artwork with one side replicating the original theatrical poster artwork and the other side replicating the home video artwork found on the old Pioneer Laserdisc and out of print DVD. If you order the movie off Kino’s website, there is a chance to order a poster of the new artwork. This 1.85:1 1080p transfer is a 4K Restoration from the original camera negative which looks absolutely magnificent and beautiful. Aside from the opening credits with some small specs, the image is in perfect condition, keeping the film grain but looking sharp and bright. There is an option to watch the film in the original 2.0 stereo mix or a new 5.1 mix, both sounding awesome. I am very appreciative that Kino gave viewers the chance to watch the film in either 2.0 for purists or 5.1 for surround sound fans. 

Now for the special features…wow. There is a fantastic and detailed audio commentary by director Pavlou as he discusses the making of the film, working with Barker and even mentioned that Peter Mayhew was considered for the part of Rawhead Rex. There are several intervews starting with actor Heinrich von Schellendorf who was only 19 when he was cast in the role of Rawhead Rex, interview with actor Ronan Wilmot, interviews with the SFX crew, and an interview with cameraman Sean Corcoran. There is the red band R rated trailer which seems all too brief and maybe only shown on old VHS tapes. The blu ray also comes with a booklet about the folklore of Rawhead Rex, written by Kat Ellinger. This is one hell of a disc and the special features are more than enough for fans. 

While Rawhead Rex may not win over new fans, especially those who don’t take kindly to low budget film making and practical effects done on the cheap but I had a good time watching this 89 minute monster movie. The film goes by quickly with a high body count, even some of the kills being un-intentionally funny. Rawhead Rex is a pizza and beer type movie. Cheap pizza and domestic beer, nothing fancy. 

Movie Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Blu Ray Rating: ★★★★½ 

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