Rawhead Rex was the 2nd time a Clive Barker story had reached the silver screen. Scripted by Barker himself, is this mid 1980s romp worthy of your attention? Or is it a waste of digital space? Read on, dear Fiend, to find out…
Taken from the Arrow Video website:
Adapted for the screen by acclaimed horror writer Clive Barker (Hellraiser, Nightbreed) from his short story of the same name, Rawhead Rex sees a hulking, ancient demon tearing a bloody swathe across the Irish countryside.
When an unsuspecting farmer pulls up a stone column embedded in a barren field, he accidentally unleashes hell by freeing Rawhead Rex – a hulking monster that has been trapped there for thousands of years. With the seemingly unstoppable demon rampaging through the local village, American historian Howard Hallenbeck is faced with the task of putting Rawhead back in the ground for good.
So, Rawhead Rex is in essence a monster movie, set in then modern day Ireland. Monster movies were a bit passe in the age of the slasher film, although there were a few that got made (Pumpkinhead, Critters, Swamp Thing). As such, the film has very different feel to many of it’s contemporaries.
Without doubt, Rawhead Rex is a flawed film. The titular creature looks fairly impressive in stills, but when in action, it becomes the films biggest liability. The story itself is strong enough. A pre Christian god reborn and going on a rampage to reclaim its dominion. You get plenty of Barkers knowing perversity (such as Rawhead baptising a Verger by urinating on him), and a modicum of gore. But thanks to the clearly lacking budget, it never quite comes together as a satisfying whole.
The actors acquit themselves well enough, even the children. And some of the effects work is bloody good. But Rawhead himself disappoints. The animatronics that control the facial expressions are barely above Thunderbirds levels of sophistication, so he looks like exactly what he is: A man in a suit and mask. The film also features the most gratuitous boob shot I can recall seeing in any horror film.
Despite the films somewhat questionable quality, Arrow once again have done an outstanding job with the disc. The extras are as follows:
- 4K restoration from the original camera negative.
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation.
- Original Uncompressed Stereo and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing.
- Brand new audio commentary with The Hysteria Continues.
- Audio commentary with director George Pavlou, moderated by author Stephen Thrower.
- Brand new audio introduction to the film by George Pavlou.
- Growing Pains: The Children of Rawhead – a brand new interview with stars Hugh O’Conor and Cora Venus Lunny.
- Rawk ‘n’ Roll: The Rex Sessions – a brand new interview with composer Colin Towns.
- Brand new audio interview with George Pavlou.
- Call Me Rawhead – an interview with actor Heinrich von Bünau.
- What the Devil Hath Wrought – an interview with actor Ronan Wilmot.
- Rawhead FX: A Cock and Bull Story – interviews with creature effects artists Peter Mackenzie Litten and John Schroonraad, special effects supervisor Gerry Johnson, second unit cameraman Sean Corcoran and make-up artist Rosie Blackmore.
- Rawhead Rising – artist Stephen R. Bissette on the aborted Rawhead Rex graphic novel adaptation.
- Image gallery.
- Original theatrical trailer.
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Wes Benscoter.
Now, I will say that the film looks by far the best it ever has. Despite the low budget and dull location weather during the shoot, it holds up remarkably well. It is clear that every single penny of the films meagre budget is on screen.
Rawhead Rex: The Verdict.
Rawhead Rex is a flawed, but enjoyable film. Arrow have produced a superior package here, probably more than the film deserves. If you like cheesy monster movies, Clive Barker, or 1980s post Hammer British horror, you’ll certainly get your moneys worth here.
3.5/5 Fiends. One for fans only.