Sunday, May 3, 2015

Rawhead Rex


  There's a certain charm to Rawhead Rex. It might not be the most iconic 80's monster movie, but it's potential, fulfilled or not, shines through it's shortcomings and makes it unique. The eponymous monster of the movie, Rawhead Rex, is the kind of creature that most low budget horror flicks wish they had on hand. He's not the most well put together, but holy crap he's got insane on screen presence. Whenever he showed up, I got extremely tense. Rawhead has the kind of balls-to-the-wall design that works so well. The biggest muscles, the biggest, sharpest teeth, and big glowing red eyes. He's the kind of monster that would show up in a little kid's nightmare. Sometimes, those are the scariest.

  He's some kind of... vengeful prehistoric god, predating Christianity, and he got buried alive I guess. Anyways, this farmer kinda ruins everything for everyone when he knocks over this annoying pillar of stone on his property, unleashing Rawhead himself- who promptly starts up a killing spree. Oh, and the whole movie takes place in rural Scotland, if I remember correctly. It's so odd, from concept to execution, but it sticks with you. This local church and it's stained glass windows plays a part in the story as well, being the key to figuring out how to stop Rawhead. It's another unique beat in this movie that feels like despite it's rural setting, and average guy protagonist, it needs some heavy metal on it's soundtrack.

  Rawhead just... looks like he came straight out of some album art for an 80's heavy metal band. I love it. Anyway, the movie wastes no time getting started, but doesn't keep a steady pace all that well. There's long interludes of basic stuff that clog up the movie. See, Rawhead is so larger than life that he makes silver screen slashers like Jason and Michael look like creepy ex boyfriends. Rawhead doesn't sneak around. He could benchpress a VW beetle for kicks and then go terrorize a whole trailer court of people. Which he actually does at one point. He's loud, ultra-strong, and unfettered by the need to creep and stalk. He seems to power walk everywhere and then just annihilate everything in his path. Except... for when he doesn't.

  The movie's downtime clashes with the nature of the monster. Being around our protagonists is almost painful because we know while we watch this Dad and his family tour rural Scotland and take pictures of churches, Rawhead is probably tearing the heads off a herd of sheep or ripping a farmer in half somewhere. Only we're not seeing him do that. I'm not saying the movie needed to be 90 minutes of nonstop mayhem and gore, but there definitely should've been more of both in the movie. The movie moves at a pace that would nicely facilitate your average slasher flick. It would accommodate a crazy guy with a knife who would have to carefully single out his victims. But remember... Rawhead is a mad, bloodthirsty, prehistoric god.

  The majority of this movie should've been old-testament crazy. Total gut wrenching chaos. Rawhead is impervious to any kind of physical harm as well. So we should've gotten something on a much larger scale. Yet the movie is firmly fastened to it's rural setting, so most of the time Rawhead was probably just power walking from farm to farm, killing off a farmer here and there every so many miles. Not very mayhem-inducing. It's also not particularly thrilling watching inept cops chase their tails and scoff at everyone who tries to describe Rawhead to them, right up until the reports start piling up, and everyone keeps describing the same thing.

  I gotta east off the protagonists though, they're actually well acted. The main protagonist is a writer who's researching ancient religions that predate christianity. First and foremost though, we see he's a dad who just wants to protect his family. He's actually a really solid protagonist. A nice change from the typical go-to cliche of the day. Seeing a misunderstood but trendy teenage girl face off against Rawhead wouldn't have been as engaging. Somehow, the fact this guy is a Dad with a family to think about really heightens the tension. I liked that. It doesn't make up for the pacing issues, or the lack of constant mayhem... but I like it.

  The last... forty to thirty minutes of the movie is great. The mayhem and chaos the very nature of the character demanded is finally realized. Explosions, screaming, people running in terror. Gorgeous. It's completely crazy, and it's perfect like that. It needed more craziness. As it is, it's 3/4th's an average slasher flick, but 1/4th a totally insane off-the-rails horror fest. Regardless though, Rawhead Rex himself is awesome. A scary looking boogeyman with a neat backstory. He's unique, and that lends flavor to the movie that it wouldn't have been worth watching without. As is, it's good. Not great and not classic no matter how much I want it to be. Nevertheless, it is good. A blood soaked romp through rural Scotland with a pissed off prehistoric god is always a fun time!

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