American Howard Hallenbeck is visiting Ireland to research a book he is writing about Christian churches and their pagan roots and influences. For this trip he has brought along his wife and two small children for a little family vacation. Of course his son and his daughter argue and they get on their mom’s nerves, and the mom, in turn, complains to Howard. He is in and out of the hotel room enough to raise the assumption that his walks to clear his head and for research are not solely academic.
One church in the rural Irish town in which they are staying has prime examples Howard is seeking in the form of stained glass windows. One window in particular sports the image of a foul, large-mouthed demon being defeated by a cloaked figure holding some mysterious object.
At the church, Howard is set to meet Reverend Coot. He first meets the verger, O’Brien. The two men take an instant disliking to each other. The verger doesn’t like Howard snooping into things he wouldn’t comprehend, and the American doesn’t like O’Brien’s snide attitude and craziness, but that’s just to let us all know he knows more than he admits.
In the nearby countryside, a famer is trying to remove a stone column from his otherwise clear field with the assistance of his two friends. His friends give up and leave. The farmer tries to pry the large obstruction from the ground and manages to unlock something. Smoke and fumes escape the soil and the column topples. Buried beneath was Rawhead Rex; he’s now free from his prison and ready to nosh. He begins with the farmer.
The ugly-faced one’s feeding frenzy spreads to the surrounding farms where he kills one man and the seeming sight of the demon turns a pregnant woman insane. As night falls, Rawhead terrorizes a trailer park and causes all sorts of destruction and mayhem. He gets to eat, too.
Back in town, Howard decides to go for one of is strolls to clear his head (I think his family grates his nerves, but who am I to judge him). While wandering, he sees the monster on a distant hill. The next day, Howard informs the police, but they don’t believe him. When the monster kills his son, what’s a red-blooded American to do but take just into his own hands and kill the ancient demon himself, loony verger be damned.
Rawhead Rex is based upon the story of the same name by Clive Barker. Barker himself wrote the screenplay. The story is a horror classic; this adaptation is less so. The movie is faithful to the basics of the story, but I would love to see what the original script was like before things such as production costs took a firm hand and demanded rewrites.
Despite the laughable headgear of the title monster and its Merrie Melodies eyes, or because of them, the movie is still fun to watch. It’s silly, and it’s entertaining in a trailer park sort of way (watch the movie). Don’t expect the brute force of Hellraiser and you’ll be pleased to chuckle for an hour and twenty-nine minutes.