Director: George Pavlou
Writer: Clive Barker
Starring: David Dukes, Kelly Piper, Hugh O’Conor, Niall Toibin
Running Time: 89 mins
BBFC Certificate: 15
Meet Rawhead Rex the Demi God from Clive Barker’s short story, he is the embodiment of male evil in this low budget charmer jammed full of accidental chuckles. The unfolding events are fairly confusing as there is no real explanation for Rawhead or the pagan rituals which bind him, but forget all that and just enjoy the gore.
Historian Howard Hallenbeck (David Dukes) with his wife Elaine (Kelly Piper) visit Ireland in search of religious artefacts. Unbeknownst to Howard, while he is happily taking pictures of graves, three farmers are writhing at a giant monolith in a field; you would think they would wonder just a little bit what it was doing there. Two of the farmers decide enough is enough and head off home, suddenly a storm shatters the calm, smoke plumes from the ground and Rawhead Rex is released to start his bloody holocaust of the chaos.
During his religious site-seeing adventure Howard bumps into the parish verger Declan O’Brian (Ronan Wilmot), which leads him on to meet the Reverend Coot (Niall Toibin). Howard is interested in the parish records, so he meets up with Coot to examine them and continue with his research. In a confusing and psychedelic scene O’Brien puts his hand on the church alter and is subjected to a vision that drives him insane. Meanwhile Rex has gone on a rampage attacking two locals in their house, and then dragging one of the dead bodies through the forest to a caravan park. Two unlucky teenagers; Andy (Finbar Lynch) and his girlfriend Katrina (Marve Germaine) stumble across Rex in the woods, Andy meets an unpleasant end, Rex is next seen waving Andy’s head in triumph…well Rex has been enjoying himself.
Howard finds Coot and discovers the parish records have been stolen, he sets off with his family in his car but when they stop they hear a scream and go to investigate. While Howard and his wife are distracted, Rex kills Howard’s son in a tense moment as Rex reaches into the car to devour the tasty youth. Howard is distraught and angry at the bumbling police and returns to the church where he discovers there is a weapon that can defeat Rex. Rex baptizes O’Brien in urine and the violence escalates into a frenzy; including a pile of dead cops and a spot of throat ripping, but to experience the full shocking end you’ll just have to watch it.
Rawhead Rex gets straight to the gore thanks to the minimal story line and lack of explanation of many mysteries, including Rawhead Rex’s fear of pregnant women. This little beauty looks as if it was filmed in the 70’s but it was initially released in 1987, it’s worth a read of the book as well as watching the film for the full explanation of this wonderfully mindless onslaught. Many people including Clive Barker himself have thought this to be a particularly suspect horror film but I must admit I downright enjoyed this 80’s blood soaked adventure. If you are astute enough to be looking for this one on the shelf, you know what you are looking for, and you’ll get exactly what you deserve…a good lashing of carnage drenched fun.
Arrow Video release Rawhead Rex on 14th May 2018 on Blu-Ray in the UK, with sharp picture and nice audio too.
The Blu-ray is rammed full of a nice heap of extra treats, special features include a brand new 4K restoration from the original camera negative in a high definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation. With original uncompressed stereo and 5.1 DTS-HD master audio and optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing. Incorporated is an audio commentary with director George Pavlou, moderated by author Stephen Thrower and “Call Me Rawhead”, an interview with actor Heinrich von Bunau. What the Devil Hath Wrought, an interview with actor Ronan Wilmot. Rawhead FX, featurette bringing together 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. Squeezed in is an Interview with cameraman Sean Corcoran, “Rawhead Rising”, with artist Stephen R. Bissette on the aborted Rawhead Rex graphic novel adaptation. Animated behind-the scenes image gallery, original trailer and reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Wes Benscoter. The first pressing only contains a collector’s booklet featuring writing on the film by Kat Ellinger…phew.