Welcome friends to another Monster Monday! The one day out of the week where most people are turned into grumpy monsters, but also the day when we can sit back and enjoy the wonder of the 80s in truly monstrous fashion. This Monday we'll be taking a look at the Barker-inspired wonder known as Rawhead Rex from 1986!
Director: George Pavlou
Starring: David Dukes, Kelly Piper
Ireland will never be the same after Rawhead Rex, a particularly nasty demon, is released from his underground prison by an unwitting farmer. The film follows Rex's cross country rampage, while a man struggles to stop it.
Rawhead, dear Rawhead... How I love thee. Indeed, Rawhead (perhaps more than any other monster) is the one closest to my heart. I recognize the possibility that memories can be lost, skewed or constructed falsely; however, as I remember it, Rawhead was the first monster who actually embodied all of the traits that I eventually found monstrously ideal. Is it any wonder? I mean, just look at that face!
Of course, Rawhead Rex (1986) was based on the Clive Barker short of the same name featured in his incredible book of shorts "Books of Blood" (this one originally featured in Volume III). Now, I first saw the film around 96' or 97'. If you read my thoughts on "Watchers," my personal experiences follow much the same trend. I had never read Barker's work, nor did I know it was based on an original short. I remember flipping through a guide, attempting to find something appealing on the Sci-fi channel. Immediately, the title caught the attention of my imaginatively curious 12 year old mind. Thus, I made a point to watch the film. Needless to say, this was a fantastic decision on my part.
Unfortunately, not a lot of people agree with me. And when I say "a lot of people," I refer primarily to Barker himself. His antipathy regarding the adaptation to the screen is pretty well documented. Years after I saw the film, I finally decided to pick up the book and, in particular, read "Rawhead Rex." It was understood immediately the contempt Barker had for the adaptation. While the film maintained a certain cheesy charm, and while Rex was at times truly terrifying, the departure from the source material was apparent (and not in a good way). The nightmare fueled, demonic depiction of Rex as a seemingly eternal mythical creature seen in the book was essentially replaced by a quality rubber suit with flashing red eyes.
Now again, it should be noted that I love quality rubber suits with flashing eyes. And, while I do realize that the film is a complete failure in terms of accurately depicting the events in the short, it should also be noted that I'm fully able to differentiate the two and hence, love both for separate reasons. Since that's been made clear, I'll be forward and proudly proclaim the following: I love this movie (and Rex)!
While there are elements of a back story regarding the unearthing of Rex and his consequent motivations for mayhem in the film, most of this is implemented quite sloppily and is never fully realized. Instead, we essentially get Rawhead randomly roaming around the countryside in pursuit of children and anything else he can find. Again, this leaves me slightly ambivalent, because subjectively, this is exactly what I want to see... Yet, if you don't have the same kind of unwavering obsession with people getting perpetually chased by monsters as I do, Rawhead Rex could get boring pretty quickly. But, if you love monsters as much as I do, and you'd like to see one running around aimlessly, Rawhead Rex is just the movie for you! Enjoy!