I sit before you with a migraine, angry, writing this piece. Ahem. I remember checking out some graphic novels at a local Hastings store when I was a kid. One by Clive Barker in particular caught my. It was called Rawhead Rex and at the time, it was one of the most violent and shocking graphic novels I had seen. I was young and comics to me meant something like X-Men and Batman, but this… this was a whole other beast. Gore and foul language filled each page as Rex devoured villagers and children. I remember being stunned that he was totally nude and reminded me of the Alien from… well, Alien. Shortly thereafter, my brother and I saw the VHS at the same store. We were totally shocked this was made into a movie. How could the censors allow such a thing? We had to see it so we rented it immediately.
Remember that one Christmas as a kid where you asked for Top Gun on Nintendo, but instead you got the Top Gun Tiger Electronics Game?
Yeah, so there is this guy Howard Hallenbeck who is on holiday with his wife and two kids in Ireland to research some religious doo-dads for a book he’s writing. What a convenient set up for him. So where does Rex come in? A couple of farmers are trying to remove a phallic like structure (wouldn’t be a Clive Barker movie without one) and eventually it gets struck by lightning and BOOM! Instant demon!
Now here’s where it gets disappointing as I previously mentioned. It didn’t take the movie too long to get to this point.
Rex is… nothing like he looks like in the book. In the book, he was described as a nine foot tall phallus with teeth (…yup). And how does he look in the movie? He looks like Kane Hodder in a goofy Halloween mask with those blinking red LED lights and an S & M suit. And just like I did when I saw this as a kid, my face froze in a state of shock. I didn’t know if I should laugh or be angry. So I did both.
With Rex’s arrival, an alter at the local church becomes hot like a stove and a priest or deacon or whatever religious status he has by the name of Declan O’Brien touches it and sees visions of Rex and all his chaos. This blows his mind and he goes bonkers. Although I think it was unintentional, this guy becomes something of the comic relief character.
Not much to comment on anymore. Rex runs around eating people, one being Howard’s son, which was graphic in the comic, but here it’s only implied through edits. Sigh. Rex lazily slashes at people as what looks like ketchup is slapped on as special effects and people fall down and die. So by now, you’re just waiting for the movie to be over, but luckily O’Brien offers some of the funniest dialogue, with odd combinations of swearing at the top of his lungs and cackling like a madman. Best part of the film is when Rex ‘baptizes’ him by peeing all over O’Brien and he laughs like an idiot the entire time. I think I rewound this part like eight or nine times.
Finally your wish comes true and the movie draws to a close. Howard finds some relic that can kill Rex, but *choke* *gasp* it doesn’t work! Then his wife comes from out of nowhere and apparently, it had to be the power of a female to kill Rex. This could have worked… if they didn’t set this plot device up in the final ten seconds! Seriously, you could have built up to it. I know, they probably wanted to give the female character something to do instead of just being in the background, but that’s all she was up until this point! So they kill him, some kid puts flowers on a grave and Rex’s emerges from the ground and roars, as if this movie merited a sequel.
Come to think of it, in the graphic novel, I believe the villagers got together and pillaged him. That would have been way better. I also heard rumors of a remake a few years back, but nothing since. Clive Barker was wise to discredit this movie. Boo.
Check out the trailer for “Rawhead Rex”