Rawhead Rex, like the honey badger, doesn’t give a sh*t. And just like Twisted Sister he will barge into your house and break your stuff with little regard to what your mother thinks. Then for giggles he will stare you down with his demonic glowing red eyes, while exhaling smoke, and eat your face. The dude only has one facial expression which can be best described as homicidal. Yes, Mr. Rex is not to be messed with. Unfortunately, for a small village in Ireland and an American family touring there, Mr. Rex is loosed upon them. Let the killing begin.
In this screenplay from Clive Barker, based on a short story of his, a pagan demon god goes ape in small town Ireland. A farmer has a problem. There is a pesky Neolithic rock right in the middle of his potato farm. Upon moving the giant stone Rawhead is released and immediately, like any good demon, he begins tearing off limbs and arms at an alarming pace.
Meanwhile, an American (or Yank as he is referred to in the film) family man along with his two kids and wife are visiting Ireland. The father likes to take photos of old churches and there just so happens to be one in the quaint little village. Oddly though, the stained glass windows of the church have images of the horrific titular monster. It appears that the Christians stole the church from the pagans at one point (like they always do), but left the demonic windows in tact. This oddity piques the curiosity of the American leading him to a path directly to Mr. Rex. He alone, the cops are stupid, must find a way to save the village and his family from the red-eyed devil.
There are several lessons to be learned in this film, but the one that stands out the most is that women have to pee far too much on road trips. And, as we all should know by know, when you unscheduled stops, often a demonic pagan monster will eat your family. I’d like my women readers to ponder this next time you make your boyfriend or husband pull over for the 4th time in as many hours for a pit stop. A demon monster is probably going to eat you. Is it really worth it to stop again?
The setting in Ireland is a character all unto itself and is something unique and refreshing in horror (especially ‘80s horror). The rolling landscapes and forests makes for a gritty and realistic vibe. And the use of Irish actors adds a little extra charm. The effects aren’t great here. Mr. Rex really looks like a rubber monster version of monkey with Down syndrome, but that doesn’t make him any less frightening. As a kid, his image was a one peak no sleep kinda deal. Rawhead Rex is a low budget affair for sure. But having seen many, many monster movies I can say without a shadow of a doubt that it is one of the better ones. Barker’s screenplay is taught; the characters are interesting and manage to step outside of some of the common tropes.
Some of the execution begs for help, but all in all this is an underrated gem of a film.
Snore Factor: ZZ