Director: George Pavlou
Stars: David Dukes, Kelly Piper, Hugh O’Conor
Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons
I love this movie. Yes I know the titular…star?…could be called Puppethead Rex. Yes it is so puppety that poor Rex never closes he mouth and every time he bites someone, which is a lot, he has to turn his head to hide the fact that his mouth doesn’t work. Yes the red glowing googly eyes look silly. Okay, really silly. And yes Clive Barker, who wrote the excellent short story this flick is based on, hates this adaptation. But then King hates Kubrick’s take on his The Shining and I love both that film and novel just as I love both this story and this film. Do you? Well if you do you’re already going to want the new Blu-ray from Kino Lober. If you’ve never seen it, come with me, and don’t forget to bring your favorite bit of goddess imagery with you. Just trust me, you’ll be thankful you did.
An American is touring rural Ireland. Taking photos of churches and such for his job, dragging his family along with him. At the same time a local farmer is trying to remove a large, ancient standing stone from his fields, accidentally releasing the slumbering Rawhead Rex. Old Rawhead has the frame of an Austrian bodybuilder, a head that looks like a skinned cross between a horse and a Doberman (thus his name), he is dressed in ye old leathers, and comes complete with retractable claws. He is unique looking, I give him that. He’s also hungry and pissed off, so the ogre-like killing machine traipses through the countryside, murdering everyone he bumps into. Well, almost everyone. There are one or two people he spares, and therein lies a clue as to Rex’s undoing. Rawhead’s rampage is brief but memorable as the American family goes off to solve the mystery behind the local legend and confront the demigod out of a need for revenge.
Rawhead Rex comes with many things for horror fans to like. It has a few decent kills and a few genuine surprises. It dares to do some stuff (like who gets killed and the unconventional baptism of a priest into Rawhead’s service) that you wouldn’t see in most other movies. The acting ranges from passable to other the top scenery chewing and I’m always down for that. The direction is workmanlike but not bad. For me the best thing about this movie is ol’ Rawhead himself. Yes, he does look a little bit fake. Okay a lot fake, but because of my love of cheesy monster movies, especially ones from the 80s, that’s part of his charm. And again, it gets bonus points from me based on his design. Say what you want about him, Rawhead Rex is original, fierce, and menacing, and I like that. A lot.
Let’s get to the extras Kino Lobo included with this new Blu-ray of Rawhead Rex. First there are the physical goodies, like slipcover, reversible cover art, and a collector’s booklet. Now for the goodies on the disc. There is an audio commentary with director George Pavlou. There is an interview with actor and all around large guy, Heinrich von Schellendorf, who plays the cranky Rex that’s 21 minutes long. There is an interview with actor Ronan Wilmot, who plays the unhinged priest, that’s over 11 minutes long. There is a combined interview with a bunch of the crew members about various aspects and behind-the-scenes bits about the movie that is 22 minutes. The last interview is with artist Stephen R. Bissette who drew a comic book adaptation of the Clive Barker story, and this interview 22 minutes long. There is an animated behind-the-scenes image gallery and the original red band theatrical trailer as well. All in all not too shabby for a weird monster movie from the 80s.
Rawhead Rex is an unabashed monster movie, and I don’t say that to belittle the film in any way. I love monster movies, and if you do, too, then this is a movies for you. The new Blu-ray looks great (mostly, there are a few grainy scenes, but I’m so happy just to have this move in my collection that doesn’t bother me) and comes packed with extras. Consider this a high recommendation from me.