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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Rawhead Rex (1986)



This is a movie that I used to rent quite a bit back in the day. At least once every couple of months I’d walk out of my local Mom and Pop store with the VHS in my hands. I always was boggled by how hard the movie was to find so I was pleased to see that it got a decent Blu-Ray release from Kino Lorber.

A researcher and his family are staying in a small town in Ireland. He is there to study ancient holy sites and their pagan roots. They have arrived just in time for the pre-Christian demon/monster/god to rise from the land and start to kill everyone. Old Rawhead Rex kills anyone that he meets… well almost everyone. Don’t want to give anything away. He also kills the photographer’s young son. Did he target them or was it just bad luck? It doesn’t matter because the man is now obsessed with destroying Rawhead forever! After most of the local police are killed off in an explosion it falls to him to finish things. But how do you kill a god? Well the movie has been beating both the audience and its characters over the head with the solution.

I still like this movie. I’m a sucker for the paganism storyline with Rawhead being an ancient god. They never really explain if he is a demon or some pagan god from mythology. Though with the way he is defeated it does have an ancient Druidic feel to it. Again, no spoilers here. The pacing of the movie is decent. It does slow down a bit in the middle, but then picks up as the body count rises. The setting has a sort of grimy feel to it with all the houses and buildings looking rundown and lived in. I also love the character of O’Brien who helps his new god and gets “baptized” for his efforts. That is a scene that has always stuck with me.

Raw Head Rex doesn't hold up well
Okay so now to the unfortunate part. I thought that this movie was much gorier than it is. We do have many kills, but most are off screen and there isn’t that signature kill for the movie to hang its hat on. And while I love the design of the creature it has some issues. The close ups of the face make it pretty clear that they didn’t have the eyes or mouth movement down. It looks stiff and like an appliance. They keep bringing the camera in close which only draws attention to it. The long shots of the creature are where it looks best. It moves well and dominates the screen. The big finale is filled with some dated visual effects work with beams of light shooting around a graveyard. It was okay for the ‘80s so I don’t mind this too much.

I’ve already told you that I still like the movie and I do. But there are some flaws that I never noticed before. Don’t know how I missed them. Perhaps I have higher expectations now or a keener eye for this sort of thing. This was a difficult review to write because I’m disappointed. It isn’t fair to the movie that my memories made me think this was way better than I thought it was. Still I’m happy to finally own a copy of Rawhead Rex. I just don’t think I’ll watch it as much as thought I would. This is probably worth a rental for most horror fans.




© Copyright 2018 John Shatzer

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