Rawhead Rex (1986)

Rawhead Rex (1986), directed by George Pavlou.

An Irish farmer is determined to remove an ancient and strangely purposeful looking stone pillar from his field. Lightning strikes it and we find what it was holding down: a bloodthirsty terror everyone was trying to forget, now loose and ravaging the community.

By strange coincidence, an American scholar researching the survival of pagan religion is vacationing in the area with his family. He'll collect a lot of material. And lose one the kids, which is rare in this sort of film. Minimal sexploitation, also rare.

This is close to the cheeziness boundary past which I don't bother to review, which is not to say such films are not enjoyable, just that I don't have anything to say.

We get to see the monster, which is good, but the rubber mask with glowing red eyes hurts the story, almost spoofing the genre. The score is overly dramatic 1980s synthesizer and the magical forces special effects are rudimentary. The plot apart from the creature feature elements is just padding.

Filmed in Ireland. The director says they lost a huge amount of their funding when a backer pulled the plug during production.

I review it because (1) it's on Blu-ray, (2) it's in that genre of British folk-horror like The Wicker Man (1973) and The Blood on Satan's Claw (1971) (also about digging up evil in a farm field), and (3) Clive Barker, who wrote the screenplay from his short story. He hated the film, although the director says he shot what was on the page with the actors and budget he had.

Early in Barker's career I had a limited edition of his Books of Blood: black hardcover with a plain red jacket, Scream Press? It combined the volumes published separately. Did that get away from me? Probably worth something now.

Anyway, it was a new thing: a book I had to put down several times. Horror themes I had never thought of before. I circulated it among a set of friends and they were all similarly dazed.

Available on Blu-ray from Kino with a grainy image. The commentary track is an interview with the director. Both men claim to be happy with the results.

There has been talk of a remake but now I hear Barker is going to reboot Hellraiser instead.