Title: Rawhead Rex
Directed by: George Pavlou
Starring: David Dukes as Howard Hallenbeck
Kelly Piper as Elaine Hallenbeck
Niall Toibin as Rev. Coot
Heinrich von Schellendorf as Rawhead Rex
Tagline: Someone has awakened him. He lives again to feed again.
By Rob Rector (featuring Bo from Last Blog on the Left):
Clive Barker was Shakespeare to an adolescent young sci-fi/horror nerd such as myself. As a young, voracious reader, my bookshelf slowly shed its pre-teen skin – made of volumes of “Black Stallion,” Hardy Boys,” and Jack London adventures – into the darker, more depraved musings of Stephen King. Well-worn paperbacks of “Carrie,” “Christine” and “The Shining” replaced titles like “Black Stallion’s Blood Bay Colt” and “Hardy Boys and Secret of Skull Mountain.”
Then, I remember reading about “The Damnation Game.”
It was endorsed by none other than the King himself. I remember the cover of the book did not look as threatening as that of the ghostly screaming face of my jaundiced paperback of “The Shining.” Hell, even the ominous shrunken head on the cover of “Hardy Boys: The Clue in the Embers” was more menacing than that of “Game’s” iron mask floating in a cheesy pink mist.
But King proclaimed him to be “The future of horror,” so I had to give him the benefit of the doubt. I had yet to be introduced to his “Books of Blood” series which preceded it, but immediately took a liking to the Faustian riff of a boxer selling his soul for immortality.
This, of course, led to hearing of the first film to be written by the invoker of many a nightmare — “Rawhead Rex.” It blew through theaters like the zephyr, so it was not until video that I was able to watch his monstrous creation in the flesh.. well, in the latex.
Honestly, I recall more the violent-sounding title (the not-so-subtle sexual reference of his name was completely lost on me)and the newspaper ad of the big hulking beast than the film itself. I seem to recall a trailer park getting pretty torn up and a few shots of Rex – looking like an American Gladiator from the Mesozoic period (a Pangaea Gladiator?) — triumphantly holding a severed head in his dirty claws. It had left an impression on me at the time, but I think more for its gory special effects than its haunting imagery.
Oh, and the priest getting pissed on by Rex.
Yes,one of the film’s most notable scenes involves Rex giving a golden shower to a man of the cloth. For what reason I am not all that sure. And I will abstain from any mention of suggesting this film took place in Boston.
Other than that, I got nothing. I have since followed Barker’s written and cinematic works, but never felt the need to view the monster again. And with “Rex” not being released on DVD, I never had the opportunity even when the casual curiosity arose. As mentioned in a discussion with Shelley Stillo for Hellraier, Barker’s work is steeped in sexual and religious overtones, so I know there must have been a number of subtext thoughout “Rawhead” that my young brain was just to underdeveloped to process. This, of course, made me eager to return to “Rex.”
Was Rob “baptized” by the whole viewing experience, or did it leave him all wet? Check out his discussion with Bo from Last Blog on the Left? You can download the podcast right here, or click the player below.