Clive Barker’s Rawhead Rex

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‘Is there any connection between the murders?’ ‘Yes, they’re all dead.’ *Siren that sounds like ice cream van speeds past* He’s not going to sell much ice cream going at that speed is he? ‘Ha, ha’ Rawhead Rex was based on a short story by Clive Barker who had a very definite opinion of the finished product. ‘It’s no bloody good’ But is he right? It’s certainly a film that has its advocates.

What’s the problem? In my opinion, Rawhead Rex is an example of how fine the margins can be in horror, between scary and funny. ‘What is it?’ ‘I don’t know… Andy… Argh!’ More than in any other genre, a little thing can make a big difference. So let’s meet rawhead rex himself. ‘He was here before Christ, before civilization, he was king here’ A pagan demon and incarnation of evil. Where are the power rangers when you need them?

I couldn’t stop him, but you can kill him’ Leaving aside the fact that the name rawhead is supposed to be derived from a face like raw meat, this looks like a refugee from Warcraft. and because the actor is looking out of the mouth, the demon’s eyeline is permanently upward. It’s low budget and I don’t want to beat them up any more than I have to but if you can’t take the demon seriously, this is a problem. ‘Rawhead! That’s what they called him. RAWHEAD!’’ Then there’s the family at the centre of things.

Clive Barkers Rawhead Rex
Clive Barkers Rawhead Rex

That’s who those kids belong to. I was wondering’ It’s as if the filmmakers noticed the non-existent chemistry and tried to force it with some of the oddest ‘sexy’ dialogue I’ve ever heard. ‘I prefer dead things’ ‘I’ll bear that in mind’ I don’t know what she has in mind and I don’t want to find out. ‘You have very dirty eyes, anyone ever tell you that?’ Even with this issue, we should still feel for them as the film reaches its most traumatic moment, The couple’s son is attacked. I think it’s the gate that really ruins it, but whatever the case, this should be gut-wrenching and it just isn’t. ‘I stood there and watched him do it’ You did, didn’t you.

It also raises the question of; why the boy and not the rest of the family? A question that dogs Rawhead Rex. ‘What the hell’s going on?’ Some people are killed outright, apparently as food, others it possesses, this woman… no idea but, it gives her terrible mood swings. ‘Janet, what happened here?’ A lot was cut from Barker’s story but it also feels as if something must have been cut from the screenplay. ‘I think this is it’s home from way back’ Just a hunch based on some stained glass windows. There are interesting themes still visible through the overacting. ‘When’s he’s finished with you what will he do with you?’ ‘Kill me.

I hooope!’ The only weapon that works against the demon, discovered in the arc of the covenant which everyone forgot was in the church, is a pagan fertility symbol. But this side of things is so unexplored that an explanatory line has to be dropped in, during the big climax, just to explain what’s going on. ‘A woman. It had to be a woman’ Only a woman can wield this weapon. Leaving our hero with a desperate need to assert his masculinity. And hit it with a shovel.

I’m bored’ The problem with Rawhead Rex is that it advertises itself as more than a monster movie and moments within the film back that up . ‘Maybe’ But it’s not. It’s a cliché monster on the rampage film right down to the ‘quick lets get some tits in’ Ancient demons with something serious to say about the incestuous relationship between early British Christianity and its pagan roots. ‘God? He is God’ Cannot trash kitchens… and rock caravans. ‘What’s going on?’ There’s nothing wrong with a rampaging monster movie, but then we’re back to the first problem and, having spent 80 minutes trying to stay on the right side of that fine line between comedy and horror.

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