Rawhead Rex (1986) - George Pavlou

Rawhead Rex was a surprisingly good feature that was written by Clive Barker and he rarely disappoints. I am a big fan of just about everything the guy dreams up. Rawhead is definitely different than his other ventures. At first I thought it was going to be a mindless slasher. But much to my surprise it's much more than that.

The film takes an interesting religious approach. Rawhead is a giant, brutish, pegan barbarian/demon that loves nothing more than to rip humans apart piece by piece. This destruction led to him being worshiped as an old god. However, when Christianity came around Rawhead was imprisoned underground under a giant obelisk. 

The film takes place in Ireland where Rawhead had previously ruled. After the protective obelisk is removed the unstoppable demon is released and Rawhead begins a new destructive reign. 

The film isn't amazing. I wasn't thrilled with the make up, and it's obvious to see what Clive Barker himself didn't like about the film. But it's not that bad. The movie could have been a thousand times worse. In fact, if a sequel was ever made, that would be way worse than this fare. 

The makeup for Rawhead is so bad. It completely takes you out of the movie and it's a shame. The storyline is really engaging and makes for a creepy feature. However, the make-up is horrendous. Rawhead looks like Goro from Mortal Kombat or an Orc Warrior from World of Warcraft. It just doesn't work but it doesn't drag it down either. 

Rawhead Rex is a perfect movie to watch with a big group of people. It's bad enough to laugh at and good enough to keep on. It fits well in a horror movie marathon and is a good introduction to Clive Barker's stories and films. No matter how stupid the name is. 

  • Based on the short story by Clive Barker that originally appeared in vol. 3 of his Books of Blood series.
  • The film was given a limited release theatrically in the United States by Empire Pictures in 1987. It was released on VHS by Vestron Video the same year.
"I am concerned that the filmmakers be willing to be true to the source material. With all that that implies, in terms of graphicness, its desire to distress, disturb, subvert... 'Rawhead Rex' has some pretty unusual imagery... I mean it's an odd story... So the story has all that material, and all that material is in my screenplay. It remains to be seen how much will survive!"
Catching Up With Clive Barker (as "Horror In Print: Clive Barker")

By Stanley Wiater, (i) Fangoria, No 55, June 1986 (ii) Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden