Saturday, October 6, 2012

31 Nights of Terror '12 #1: Rawhead Rex

The cover of my VHS copy of Rawhead Rex

Rawhead Rex (1986)
Director: George Pavlou
Starring: David Dukes, Kelly Piper, Niall Toibin
Format: VHS (Applause Home Video)

Plot: In Ireland a farmer knocks over an ancient stone column, releasing a centuries-old demon called Rawhead Rex. An American history buff (Dukes, GODS AND MONSTERS) and his family on holiday are soon fighting for their lives as the monster goes on the rampage. But what connection is there with the local village church, which has a stained-glass window featuring an image of the creature?

I'm sure you've all heard of this movie and know of its connection to the great British horror writer Clive Barker (HELLRAISER etc), and how he disowned this adaption of his story, mainly because he wasn't happy with the monster effects.

It's pretty easy to see why Clive was so upset, because this is a good movie except for the monster suit. There's talk of a remake being done (what's new), which for once could be a good thing. Ol' Sexy Rexy'll have you chuckling into your popcorn, which I'm sure wasn't the response director George Pavlou intended. In fact, he reminded me of Bebop from the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, if he'd borrowed Brian Bosworth's classic mullet.

But the monster suit is about the only gripe I have. Well, the name too - my father-in-law's name is Rex and a bald skinny guy in his 60s isn't what I want to associate with a monster flick. Those gripes aside, I enjoyed this movie quite a bit.

I like the fact this movie is authentically Irish (one look at the cast list shows two Nialls, a Ronan, a Cora and a Donal), rather than having somewhere like Vancouver or Toronto standing in for Ireland. The small Irish village setting gives it a nice Lovecraftian/Wicker Man vibe.

Pavlou throws in a few nicely-shot scenes (one where a teen couple run away after finding a dead body uses light and angles effectively), and there's some good gore, mostly courtesy of several beheadings. On the downside there's minimal T&A, just one topless shot when a girl is attacked by Rexy.

While the monster brings plenty of unintentional laughs, there is some intentional humour, most of it very British/Irish in flavour. One exchange of funny dialogue between our main character and a policeman: "In the meantime can I get you a cup of tea?" "Why don't you go fuck yourself?" "I'll pass that suggestion along".

The best thing about Rawhead Rex is it's never too predictable. There are some real WTF moments (like when the monster relieves himself on a priest) and I was shocked when a young boy was killed by Rex (I'm used to the movie convention where kids are never seriously hurt or killed).

It's just a shame about that monster suit.

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