Rawhead Rex

Rawhead Rex ★★

It’s pretty baller to start a bad movie with the first line of its dialogue being “It’s no good! Turn it off!” But that’s just how 1986’s Rawhead Rex begins as three Irish provincials try to remove an obelisk from a farmer’s field with a tractor that looks formidable as a toy that came in a box of cereal.

I imagine Clive Barker‘s script had to have been bowdlerized by the mediocrity that directed it, George Pavlou (if I ever see his name attached to another movie my Pavlou-vian response will definitely be not to watch). I recall the short story was way pervier and that would’ve helped this a lot. In fact, I kind of want to reread the source material. I was a huge fan of Barker’s Books of Blood, from whence this story was derived. But one of the many defining flourishes of Barker at his best and most self-indulgent was his penchant for slathering his horror in bloody jizz. This would have benefited from less restraint.

I think they were going for a Hammer Horror vibe, and they certainly got the wide stretches of dullness right. But the monster is terrible. And also confusingly has another set of teeth behind its teeth, but unlike the xenomorph in ALIEN these look like maybe the guy wearing the monster suit’s teeth are showing? I couldn’t quite tell. But it was weird. He’s also not a gifted monster actor. Most of the time Rawhead’s reveling looks like a Packers fan whooping it up in the bleachers. 

The story centers around a fairly dull American family, the patriarch of which is researching a book on pagan rites in the Irish countryside. Blah blah blah, gets more than he bargained for, blah blah blah, nagging wife and irritating children, blah blah blah, experiences personal loss, blah blah blah, confronts evil. Fails. Nagging wife to the rescue. Female empowerment? Maybe. Bad optical effects? Definitely. 

Not bad enough to be good. Just bad.

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