Rawhead Rex

Rawhead Rex ★★★½

I reeeeeeally want to subtract a 1/2 star for the final, clichéd shot...but the bottom line is that this is a pretty rockin' 80's low budget creature feature.

A farmer in a tiny, rural Irish burg is determined to uproot a stone monolith from his property...little does he know that upon doing so, he'll unleash one of the silliest looking, full-head masked monsters of the era. Well silly AND awesome...cause, you know, the demon/god/whatthehellever digs donning leather, spiked shoulder pads, and chains as well. (Maybe he had tickets to a Mama's Boys or Gary Moore concert that weekend). His outfit kind of resembles a cross between being influenced by the early Mad Max films and something Gene Simmons wore on the Creatures of the Night tour. Plus, his eyes light up red! So you know he's evil as hell.

"He was here before Christ, before civilization. He was king here!"

Arriving on the scene just in time for Rex's big debut, is the all-American family of writer Howard Hallenbeck (played by a genuinely engaging David Dukes). He's brought the Hallenbeck gang along so they can enjoy a little getaway time while he researches the country's historically significant sacred sites. Before you can say "bad timing!", ol' Rawhead is mauling his way through the countryside, and our lead thinks he may have stumbled upon a way to corral the beast.

"Get upstairs, fuckface! I can't keep God waiting."

What a hell of a good time this was. Sure, the low budget, early era digital effects are laughable (and frankly, they kind of were in 1986 too) but this film's pretty relentless in its barrage of monster mayhem. For all the contrivances that horror fans will be overtly familiar with that are at work here (blunt religious allegories, loved ones being endangered, an impossible to kill monster...etc.) once you cut to scenes of Rex gutting victims, disrobing the ladies, and turning his red eyes on before staring directly at the camera...it's just too much a full-throttle good time to dismiss. It certainly doesn't hurt that the cast is actually good (especially the scenery-chewing Ronan Wilmot), or that the settings nail the necessary atmosphere.

"Your goddamn stupidity is the reason my son is dead!"

I certainly love the trend-setting prosthetic makeup effects work of the likes of Rob Bottin and Rick Baker, but it's time I start admitting to myself how much I've come to hate the plethora of perma-smiling, giant fanged, unemotive full-head pieces that permeated monster films of the era. They all look the f***ing same to me. The creature from "The Crate" sequence in "Creepshow", the monster nazi's from the "American Werewolf in London" dream sequence, the gremlin in the "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" sequence from "Twilight Zone: The Movie", the goofy-as-shit looking orangutan monster from "Big Trouble in Little China"...it's unending. The one for Rawhead Rex is hands down, much cheaper looking than those major studio efforts (naturally)...but, for whatever reason, was more acceptable for me. Probably because it fits right in with this film's overall budget-priced milieu.

"Of course, darkness can be deceptive."

Straddling a line between sober and silly, this vicious man-in-suit gem is sincere enough to keep one intrigued, and despite the usual trappings, is never boring. I couldn't care less that Clive Barker loathed this adaptation of his work...I dug the hell out of it. Recommended!

Block or Report

Mandrakegray liked these reviews