Rawhead Rex (film)

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Rawhead Rex
Theatrical release poster.
Directed byGeorge Pavlou
Produced byKevin Attew
Don Hawkins
Screenplay byClive Barker
Based onRawhead Rex
by Clive Barker
StarringDavid Dukes
Kelly Piper
Niall Tóibín
Cora Venus Lunny
Ronan Wilmot
Donal McCann
Music byColin Towns
CinematographyJohn Metcalfe
Edited byAndy Horvitch
Distributed byEmpire Pictures
Release date
14 October 1986 (UK)
Running time
89 minutes

Rawhead Rex is a 1986 Irish fantasy horror film directed by George Pavlou, produced by Kevin Attew and Don Hawkins, and was written by Clive Barker, based on his short story of the same name. The film focuses on a monstrous pagan god's bloody rampage through the Irish countryside. The story had originally appeared in Vol. 3 of his Books of Blood series. Barker had previously worked on Transmutations (also known as Underworld).[2]

The film stars David Dukes in the lead role alongside Kelly Piper, Niall Toibin, Cora Venus Lunny and Donal McCann in supporting roles. The film was released limited in the United States by Empire Pictures on 17 April 1987, and the same year it was released on VHS and LaserDisc by Vestron Video. In October 1999 the film was released on DVD by Geneon, and received two further releases, on 29 July 2003 and on 17 October 2017 in 4K quality. A remake of the film was planned but later was cancelled due to Barker's involvement with the Hellraiser films.


Howard Hallenbeck (David Dukes) travels to Ireland to research items of religious significance. He goes to a rural church to photograph some graves. Meanwhile, three farmers are attempting to remove an ominous stone column from a field. Two of the farmers head home. A thunderstorm appears out of nowhere, and smoke pours from the ground. Lightning strikes the column. The monster Rawhead Rex rises from the dirt.

Howard meets Declan O'Brien (Ronan Wilmot), who directs him to Reverend Coot. The curious O'Brien approaches the altar and places his hand on it. Images flash before his eyes. This experience apparently destroys O'Brien's sanity. Afterwards, Howard inquires about the church's parish records. Coot says he can arrange to have Howard look at them.

Later, a man arrives at the home of locals Dennis and Jenny. He discovers a clearly traumatized Jenny. Police arrive. Rawhead drags Dennis's dead body through the forest and comes upon a trailer park. A teenager named Andy Johnson is trying to make out with his girlfriend. The two teens head into the woods. Soon after, Howard sees Rawhead on top of a distant hill with Andy's head in his hand.

Afterwards, Howard speaks again with Coot, who tells him the church's parish records have been stolen. Declan O'Brien destroys his camera.

On the road again, Howard's daughter needs to go to the bathroom, so Howard pulls over and lets her go by a tree. Hearing her suddenly scream, Howard and his wife rush to her; Howard's son stays in the van, alone. Rawhead kills Howard's son and takes the body into the woods. Infuriated by the police's unsuccessful efforts to track down Rawhead, Howard returns to the church. He discovers that there is a weapon shown in the stained glass window that can be used to defeat the monster. After Howard leaves, Coot curiously touches the altar but resists the temptations and images it shows him.

Rawhead arrives at the church to "baptize" O'Brien by urinating on him. A bewildered Coot goes outside to investigate the noise and sees Rawhead. Horrified, Coot flees inside the church and into the basement while Rawhead destroys everything inside. Coot finds the missing parish records, showing what appears to be some kind of blueprint of Rawhead himself. The insane O'Brien catches Coot and forces him upstairs to be sacrificed to Rawhead. The police arrive at the church and prepare to open fire on Rawhead, but they hesitate because he is carrying Coot. The brainwashed inspector dumps gasoline around the police cars and ignites it just as they begin to shoot at Rawhead, killing all the police, including himself.

Howard leaves his wife and daughter and goes back to the church where a dying Coot tells him that Rawhead is afraid of something in the altar. Howard goes inside where O'Brian is burning books and is overpowered by Howard. Howard, by using a candle stick, opens the altar and gets to the weapon. O'Brian retreats to Rawhead to tell him, leaving Rawhead displeased. Howard tries to use the weapon, but has no effect. In anger, Rawhead kills O'Brian by tearing out his throat, with Howard's wife watching in terror.

As Rawhead tries to kill Howard, his wife picks up the weapon, it activates, stopping Rawhead from killing Howard. A ray of light comes out of the weapon and hits Rawhead, hurting him. Howard realizes that it has to be a woman for it to work. Then the form of a woman appears from the stone and shoots electric rays through the stones and into Rawhead's body, knocking him to the ground. After a few more blasts, Rawhead is drained and weakened to the point where he has no hair, has aged, and is ill and dying. Finally he falls through the ground with Howard's wife dropping the weapon in with him. Rawhead is smashed under giant stones and finished. Both Howard and his wife cry in light of it being over.

In the end, the boy from the trailer park places flowers on Andy Johnson's grave. As he walks away, Rawhead emerges from the ground and roars.



The film was given a limited release theatrically in the United States by Empire Pictures in 1987.[citation needed] It was later released on VHS by Vestron Video that same year.[citation needed]

The film was released on DVD in the US by Geneon on 5 October 1999. It was later re-released by Prism on 29 July 2003.[3] A 4K resolution restoration of Rawhead Rex, based on the original camera negative, was released on Blu-ray and DVD by Kino Lorber on 17 October 2017.[4]


Rawhead Rex has a 29% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an average rating of 4.4/10 based on seven critics.[5] Cinefantastique gave the film a negative review, criticizing the design of the title monster as being more laughable than frightening, and the film's dull finale.[6] In a 2010 interview, Barker discussed a possible remake of the film. He talked of a Tortured Souls adaptation and a remake of Rawhead Rex. Barker was not happy with the result of the original, mainly the creature's look in the film (he describes Rawhead as a nine foot tall phallus with teeth). While it's not confirmed that Barker will remake the film, mainly due to his role in the Hellraiser reboot, he still has expressed interest in directing a remake.[7]


  1. ^ "Rawhead Rex (1987)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  2. ^ "The Official Clive Barker Website - Rawhead Rex". www.clivebarker.info. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
  3. ^ "Rawhead Rex (1987) - George Pavlou". AllMovie.com. AllMovie. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  4. ^ "Art, Date and Full Details for 'Rawhead Rex' 4K Restoration!". Bloody-Disgusting. Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  5. ^ "Rawhead Rex (1987) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes.com. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  6. ^ J. P. Harris (January 2001). Time Capsule: Reviews of Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Films and TV Shows from 1987-1991. iUniverse. pp. 196–197. ISBN 978-0-595-21336-8.
  7. ^ "Clive Barker Speaks -'Rawhead Rex' Being Remade?!". Bloody Disgusting.com. Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 10 September 2015.

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