AWESOME-tober-fest 2014: Review of Rawhead Rex (1986)

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On Wednesday I showed you the cover to Fangoria #61 with a cover story on the movie Rawhead Rex. And I told you I’ve been fascinated with that movie since 8th grade. Yesterday I showed you the guts of that Rawhead Rex feature story (pun intended).  Well, for my inaugral Fangoria Movie Friday I finally watched Rawhead Rex and now it’s time to see if it stands up to what I thought it was going to be.

As I’ve mentioned, Rawhead Rex was written by Clive Barker and released in 1986.  Here’s the terrible and confusing poster for the movie.

Rawhead Rex

What the hell is going on with that poster?  Needless to say, that didn’t clear up anything for me about the nature of this movie before watching it.  Horrible, horrible poster.

As background, I enjoy some of Clive Barker’s early stuff, but I’m not really a devotee.  So his name alone on this movie isn’t really doing anything for me.  The movie will have to stand on its own.  Unfortunately, bottom line, it’s not very good. Very low production value. Very low kitsch value. Not a lot to love. Sort of straight forward slasher monster movie. No subversiveness. Really just a by-the-numbers job. Very disappointing.

The story is about an ancient pagan fertility god, Rawhead Rex, who is awakened in a small town and starts going on a killing spree. That’s basically it. And I’m seriously giving more information than the movie gives you.  There’s long stretches of no killing and long stretches of no boobs or nudity. So, as an 80s monster/slasher flick, this really kinda blows.

You want to know how bad this movie is?  They actually put the below sentence in the plot synopsis on Wikipedia:

“On the road, Howard’s daughter needs to go to the bathroom, so Howard pulls over and lets her go by a tree.”

Someone wrote that.  Specifically to be published online.  For the movie’s plot description.  Seriously.  However, they had to put it in there because that scene is a crucial part of the movie.  THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.

While I can’t really recommend it, let’s look at a few things worth mentioning.

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Here’s the title card and a face shot of Rawhead Rex after he’s awoken from his thousand year slumber. The makeup/costume work on Rex is not good. You can’t tell by this small static picture on my blog, but it’s pretty bad.  His design would be cool in a comic book, maybe, but on the screen, it’s less than stellar. And his big reveal during the awakening, which you see in the poster above, looks like complete dogsh*t.

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This is a stained glass window found in a church discovered early on by the main character played by David Dukes. At first glance he doesn’t find it odd that a church would have a giant red monster with huge fangs and bones and skulls all around him captured in a stained glass mural.  I mean, I’d be like “HOLY SH*T! WHAT THE F**K IS THAT AND WHY IS IT ON YOUR WINDOW?!”

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A clear Easter Egg for fans of Angus Scrimm and the Phantasm movies.  The first of which was released in 1979.

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This is the police headquarters. With the drapes, wallpaper and framed painting on the wall.  It looks like my grandmother’s dining room…minus two of the three telephones.

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When this camper’s rockin’, don’t come a-knockin’.  I joke, but there sadly aren’t a couple of randy, half naked teenagers trying to have sex in that trailer.  It’s just a bunch of old people cowering on the floor.  If this had been a better movie there would have been a couple of randy, half naked teenagers trying to have sex in that trailer.

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I geeked out a bit when I saw the kid in this scene reading a comic. I was currently bored as balls with the movie so I decided to try to identify the issue.  I could tell the title was Secret Wars II but the issue didn’t look familiar.  Then I realized this movie was made in Ireland so this would have been the Marvel UK weekly reprints of Secret Wars II. Which had like 40+ issues. So I paused several points during the scene looking really hard to see if I could identify the specific issue. It was hard, nothing really matched. Plus the old stock of the film made the colors a little different. But, I think I finally found it. That kid is reading Secret Wars II issue #37 from Marvel UK. It was released in 1986. Here’s a closeup of that cover (Click image for BIGGER).

Secret Wars II #37

And that’s about the extent of the interesting things in this movie. I spent more time looking for that damn comic cover than I did caring about the rest of the movie.

Sorry, but I sadly can’t recommend it which is a shame because I was so fascinated by the Fangoria article I was hoping this would have been a schlocky good time.  But it wasn’t.  Maybe if I’d been able to find it on a video store shelf and watched it in the late 80s I would have been in love with the bare bones ridiculousness of it all, but that didn’t happen.  I watched it a few weeks ago.  And I was disappointed.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

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One Response to “AWESOME-tober-fest 2014: Review of Rawhead Rex (1986)”

  1. So many things. So in reverse order, whoa, love that X-Men cover repurposed for the UK Secret Wars issue. Also the “my grandma’s dining room…” line had me rolling. Nice catch on the Tall Man reference too.

    It’s been forever since I watch this, but I remember being really disappointed. Well, except for that one part: “On the road, Howard’s daughter needs to go to the bathroom, so Howard pulls over and lets her go by a tree.” Classic.

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