RAWHEAD REX DVD (Kino Lorber)
Steven King championed Clive Barker in Barker’s early days. Barker’s Books of Blood short story series are perfect otherworldly companions to Stephen King’s earthy, hometown horror. Barker has a way with bringing the supernatural into the modern world. The story “Rawhead Rex” comes from the series and is one of the more straightforward narrative-wise. Rex’s origin doesn’t really doesn’t develop until the end, which leads the movie into a typical “creature or baddie terrorizes a small town” narrative. The movie is shot well, bringing a small Irish town in the countryside struggling between the modern world and old traditions to life evenly. The film has a similar feel of the superior American Werewolf in London (1981). Director George Pavlou successfully creates the monster stalking and sulking naiveté of a small town under siege by something it can’t properly deal with.
With a competent monster chase movie in place, the somewhat lackluster monster effect will determine your enjoyment. With all the skill of the filmmaking in place, it’s odd how much Rex looks like a guy bounding around in a Halloween costume with flashing lights for eyes. A little of the Jaws (1975) “don’t let them see the monster right away” method might have been employed with regard to Rex. The appearance of the monster sometimes evokes the wrong kind of laughs, particularly one scene where the monster chooses to trash a kitchen rather than give chase. But scenes intertwine well enough to create interest and make the movie watchable for fans of monster narratives. Pavlou’s film credits include adaptations of two other Barker stories and no other films. He evidently has deep enough understanding of Barker’s work to keep getting hired. And he can swing a camera. I’m curious to see another one. -Billups Allen
dir. George Pavlou, 1986, color, 89 min.
DVD and Blu-ray at Kino Lorber Home Video.