“Rawhead Rex” is a demon. He is born forth out of the ground when a lightning bolt strikes a giant stone phallus jutting out of the Earth for no discernible reason. I mean, the stone doesn’t appear to be there for a reason, and any explanation as to why Rex appears also has no reason. I found this to be a reoccurring theme throughout the film.
Upon his birth (or resurrection, I suppose) from the dirt of the earth, a woman at a nearby church is burnt by the altar (the reason? You guessed it!). Said church also contains a stained-glass window depicting Rawhead being cast down by a faceless figure. It’s part of the Old Testament, I think.
We’re introduced in to all the main characters here: Howard Hallenbeck, our hero, and his family, a wife and two adorable children. Reverend Coot, the obviously doomed reverend of the church. Declan O’Brien, the soon to be disciple of one Mr. Rex, who acts suspiciously even before he become obsessed with the creature, delivering every line of dialogue with unnecessarily long pauses and the shiftiest of eye movements.
Soon Rex makes his first kill at a nearby cottage. The budget obviously called for little to no special effects, and to illustrate Rex’s ferocity the director mainly chooses the old “pick him up and shake him around a bit” style of murder. After which the victim always has a smudge of blood on his face or something. You know, to show he’s deceased.
During this scene he leaves a female survivor, which seems to indicate he is scared of women, but later he picks one up, tears her clothes asunder, and throws her against a tree. Pfh, men.
When I was getting ready to write a review for “Rawhead Rex,” I stumbled upon some interesting notes about the film at www.Clivebarker.info. I think, most of all, I was interested in how Barker had meant this to be an almost entirely phallic tale. See? Rawhead? The monster himself was supposed to be a phallus and, thusly, really was supposed to be afraid of women, using his brute strength to terrorize them as a defense mechanism.
What we got instead was a monster movie with a beast looking somewhat like a cross between Bebop from TMNTand the action figure D. Compose from The Inhumanoids, with a little touch of He-Man thrown in. Apparently, he hates trailer parks, as nearly every victim comes from one. In Barker’s mind it was supposed to be more figurative. More or less Rex really was a giant penis. Can’t see how that didn’t go over well in the developmental stages with old “Alpine Pictures.” Here’s the short of it. The subtext in a Clive Barker novel does not translate well to a feature length film.
The acting in this film is beyond terrible. Every emotion is expressed by yelling. Declan O’Brien (Ronan Wilmot) is the worst of all. He screams and growls throughout the film. Even when he is laughing he seems to actually be screaming. I am in disbelief he ever found work again.
The filmmakers of this particular piece have nothing to hang their hats on really. A poor script with poor editing, direction, and acting. If you have stomach enough to make it through the first 50ish minutes of the film, you will eventually be rewarded with a climax that is so laden with 80s cheese you almost can’t help but enjoy it a little. There are unnecessary explosions, completely incoherent editing, characters popping out of nowhere for no good reason and the greatest baptism scene put to film.
Of particular ridiculousness is the final showdown with Rex, which involves what I believe is supposed to be a pregnant female idol, representing both sexuality and fertility, but looks a little more like a fossilized dinosaur turd. One that shoots blue lasers willy-nilly at unsuspecting demon spawns. If that doesn’t pique your interest, it’s pretty safe to say you can probably pass on Rawhead Rex.
Written by Ryan Venson