Welcome back to Rotten Ink, my ghouls and ghosts. It’s hard to believe that October is here as it feels like just yesterday I was in Pittsburgh at Monster Bash with Juliet, and to top it off, we are at our 4th update in the countdown to Halloween. For this one, I decided to leave the horrors of the sea and the supernatural and instead look into a monster god of Ireland that was created by the master of the twisted macabre himself, Clive Barker – your horror fans know I am talking about Rawhead Rex. This quick update will be a good way to chill your blood as we take a look at the book the character came from as well as the movie and comic book that followed. So make sure to hide your girlfriend or wife as the mighty and sinister Rawhead Rex is on the prowl here at Rotten Ink, and he has been gone for way too long and his want for female companionship is out of bloody control. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Who or what is Rawhead Rex? Before we dive into this update, I feel that it’s my duty to give you a quick crash course on him. Rawhead Rex is an ancient demigod demon who is the living evil embodiment of the male sex drive as well as macho-ness, and the need to kill and make it with women. He spent his time tormenting villagers eating kids and foundling and impregnating women. But when the town finally had enough of his rampage, they defeated him by burying him alive where he would sit for centuries. That is until a farmer set him free and reignited his rampage of murdering, including corrupting a worker at the nearby church in order to help him kill. Rawhead is so cruel, he sets a policeman on fire and even eats a child in front of his father all the while being so gleeful about his nasty deeds. The father and townspeople come together, and, with the help of an idol that represents pregnant women, are able to defeat Rawhead Rex, who is killed when the idol is used to bash his brains in. The movie version is very similar to the above origin that’s from the book besides the fact that a mother has to use the idol to send Rawhead back into the ground where he is buried alive once more. In the book, Rawhead is a 9 foot tall skinny penis headed monster with a mouthful of razor sharp teeth, shaggy black hair and tiny evil eyes, while the movie version is more of a muscle bound giant ogre looking creature with glowing red eyes and messy hair. His weakness is women who are pregnant or on their period as well as that idol. Rawhead is very cruel and doesn’t care who he kills or corrupts and is just a foul demon who enjoys the extreme sins of life and gets his sick jollies of using and abusing women. Below are pictures of the two looks of Rawhead Rex from today’s comic as well as two from the movie based on the short story that started it all.
Clive Barker is one of the world’s best horror writers and should be looked at with the same respect that people have for the likes of Stephen King. In the mid 1980’s Barker released a series of books that were titled The Books Of Blood Volumes that compiled many creepy dark horror themed stories. Many of these stories would go on to be made into full films like “Candyman”, “Lord Of Illusions” and “Midnight Meat Train” to name a few, and many would also get comic adaptations thanks to Eclipse Comics. The book series lasted for six volumes that ran from 1984-1985 with each story being written of course by Clive Barker. This is the series that put him on the map of must-read horror authors as they were highly praised by readers and critics alike. I can remember that my brother bought several of the Books Of Blood from Half Price Books and the Mary L Cooke Library sale in Waynesville when we were growing up, and I can remember the covers that had Halloween masks with eerie lights behind them and always wanting to read them but comic books and movie adaptation novels always seemed to win out when I wanted to read something. The older I got, the more I read – and not just comics but novels and short stories – and can remember reading Books Of Blood Volume 1 and enjoying the creepy horror and fantasy mixed short stories. This book lead to me reading more of Barker’s novels, and he quickly became my favorite horror author even over Stephen King! If you enjoy good spooky short stories, I recommend that you give the Books Of Blood a read, as I am sure you will truly enjoy them on a cold October night.
Rawhead Rex was made into a movie in 1986, directed by George Pavlou and starred the likes of David Dukes, Kelly Piper and Donal McCann with a script by Clive Barker himself. Empire Pictures was the distributer with Colin Towns doing the film’s score, and it was released in both the United States and the United Kingdom. The film was released to select theaters in 1987 and was pretty much panned by critics and fans as they found it boring and the title monster Rawhead not to be scary and too fake looking. But many diehard horror fans of the 80’s found the film enjoyable and grim as the film tackles many topics from the loss of a child to religion and tying it all together is the brutal killing machine Rawhead Rex. The film is really just a monster flick with gore and taboo subject matter thrown together into 89 minutes that show that with good is always evil and with religion comes history of violence. I first saw this movie with my brother Bryan when we rented it from K&L Video, and we both watched in amazement at how weird and cheesy the film was. A short time later I watched it again via buying a VHS copy of the film and watched it with my pal Jason Gilmore and can remember having a grand old time as we both laughed at the rubber bouncy headed monster and some of the best and oddest dialogue of all time like a worker for the church busting our leads camera and then telling him to get the F out of the church as it has nothing for him. As time would pass and the more times I watched it the more I found myself really loving it. In fact, I own the film on a overpriced DVD, the movie poster and even showed it on year at Horrorama. If you like monster run amuck movies that mix in old religions and a monster who pees on people to baptize them…check out Rawhead Rex as I am sure you’ll enjoy it.
Collecting horror films on VHS was always a fun time, and I can’t count how many times friends like Jason Gilmore and even my brother Bryan would hit video rental and used stores looking for tapes of films we really wanted to see or just own and watch again. I was a collecting machine and had so many VHS horror films that my room was packed with them. I would collect your mainstream horror like Friday The 13th and Halloween, all the way to weird shot on video films like Death Row Diner and Blood Hook. And some of my old hard to get crown jewels in my collection were Evil Dead, that was out of print and for some reason really hard to find used in the Dayton area, the 80’s rock n roll slasher flick Rocktober Blood and Rawhead Rex, another one that was super hard to find but when I did it made my day. I can’t count how many times me and Jason Gilmore watched it and laughed and had a good time at the expense of the rubber suit that was crossed eyed in shots and head bounced as he ran. To this day I regret selling off my VHS horror collection to use the money to by the then new format DVD as many of the titles I got ride of never made it to disc, and I miss the amazing cover art of the VHS that some how made even the worst movies seem like gold. And the same place I got my copy of Rawhead Rex from called Second Time Around was the place that ended up getting my collection way back when and looking back at it, man, they really did short change me on what they paid out for them! But here is to all of you who were wise and kept your VHS tapes, and here is to all you new collectors as VHS is a great and grainy way to watch the horror flicks and no streaming or disc will match it.
Rawhead Rex might not be a household name like other horror movie icons of the 80’s, but this doesn’t mean he didn’t get his fair share of merchandise to keep fans happy. Rawhead Rex has made appearances in many horror magazines as well as graced the cover of a few. Of course he has his story in Clive Barker’s Book Of Blood Volume 3; he has had his own comic book issue as well as guessed starred in the Epic Comics Nightbreed series. He has a movie poster, t-shirts as well as statues and even a mini figure as of late made as part of the Video Nasteez limited figure collection. So if you like this pagan god and his womanizing killing ways, you can find some cool collectables for your collection.
As you can see, Rawhead Rex for some reason has always been around in my life. To me he is up in the same class as other 80’s monster icons like Pumpkinhead and The Predator. So while the moon is rising in the sky and I think that Rawhead Rex is awake and out of his unmarked tomb, I can hear him growling and screaming at the top of his lungs to have me remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. He is also reminding me to thank an Ebay seller who had this comic in stock for me to review for this update. So before Rawhead Rex wrecks my apt and knocks over all my comics, I think we should just dive right into the comic book review and see how well this pagan monster transfers from a short story to a comic!
Rawhead Rex # 1 ***
Released in 1994 Cover Price $9.99 Eclipse Comics # 1 of 1
Zeal is a small village in England that is being filled with city tourist looking for a slice of the good old country life. The locals like the money, but they don’t like the drama the tourists bring. A farmer working in his field comes across a stone in the ground and spends time digging it up and notices a foul smell coming from the ground around it. After working for some time, the stone starts to move by itself, and a giant creature known as Rawhead Rex emerges and kills the farmer, stuffs him in the hole and starts its way into the country side as a bad storm blows in. The villagers are taking shelter to get out of the rain, and so is Rawhead, who picks a barn and slaughters and eats the pony that was inside! Ron and Maggie Milton are in Zeal looking at the house they bought some time back that’s still not ready for them to move into yet, and they plan on staying in town for a couple more days for an upcoming festival. Meanwhile Rawhead Rex decides that he is going to kill the family that the barn belongs to and makes short work of the father, has the mother fall down a flight of stairs and eats the child alive! At the church, Reverend Coot and worker Declan both have felt something odd at the day’s service as if they had sensations of extreme joy and lust. This puzzles them, yet also brings about stories of the village’s past before God ruled the world, a time when Rawhead Rex walked and ruled. The police have left the scene of the farmer’s death, and while driving, Rawhead Rex attacks killing them and even ripping off one’s penis before the patrol car explodes. Reverend Coot is up late thinking when he catches a shadow outside in the graveyard and goes for a look only to find Declan kneeling before Rawhead Rex who is now urinating on the one time holy man who is 100% under his control now. Coot runs as Rawhead gives chase, and in-between the attack, Coot is able to phone the police for help. But with the help of Declan the Reverend meets a brutal attack as Rawhead breaks his bones and guts him. The police are too late to stop the attack but after shooting at Rawhead, he retreats into the woods and hides. Ron decides that Maggie and the kids should leave Zeal until the killer on the loose is caught as stories of the brutal murders begin to spread. The next day, while driving his family, his son is killed and eaten by Rawhead before his eyes. After reporting the murder to the police, Ron goes and visits the dying Reverend Coot who tells him with his dying breath that he thinks an item inside the alter at the church is the key to stop Rawhead Rex. Ron rushes to the church and finds a naked and crazy Declan who tries to kill him, but the fight turns as fires outside in the village set by Rawhead Rex distracts Declan. Ron beats him down and finds a stone in the shape of a woman in the alter and rushes to town to battle Rawhead who has accidentally been burnt by the fires he set. Declan tries to help his new god but falls prey to Rawhead who rips him apart to show his strength. But with the help of the villagers who attack Rawhead, the death of the monster comes brutal as Ron bashes his head in with the woman stone leaving the monster dead in the street.
This was a very cool comic based on the short story by Clive Barker, but I should also note that it’s very slow-paced and is filled with lots of dialogue mixed in-between brutal kills and the conflicts between city life and country life. The simple plot is of an ancient monster freed from its tomb in a small village in England and runs amuck and is stopped by a grieving father and townspeople once and for all when they stand together against it. The complex story part of this comic is that Rawhead Rex is truly the raw nature of man who wants to kill and eat and is self-absorbed and is gluten for sins. Add in a Father who is questioning his faith and finds that this demon demi-god is the answer as well as a family who must deal with the brutal death of a son and you’re just skimming the top of this wild story. Rawhead Rex is one mean spirited killing machine as he uses his hands, teeth and size to torment and kill and the only emotions he shows is joy when killing, disgust when around a woman who is having the time of the month or a baby in the oven and fear when he knows that the stone has been found. The fear for Rawhead was so bad for the stone that the demon demi-god poops himself with fear!! But with that said Rawhead Rex is very evil and not a demon monster that anyone would want to tackle if real. Declan is a madman who turns on God in order to worship and due the bidding of Rawhead who ends up not being his savior but his angel of death, very interesting character as his madness comes on fast and his loyalty knows no bounds. Reverend Coot is a man who tries to use the power of God to stop the evil of Rawhead but sadly just becomes another body for the meat wagon, but his dying words are what leads to the plan to defeat the demon. The poor Milton family are just in the wrong part of England and the hungry of eating kids leaves the son dead and the father in such a rage the revenge is the only thing on his mind, and this rage leads to the death of Rawhead once and for all. The fact that Ron bashes the brains out of Rawhead shows you just how mad he is!! The comic is filled with curse words, some slight nudity and lots of gore with my favorite death being the death of the Milton son who has his head bitten off, dragged away and later picked apart and ate by Rawhead who is relaxing in the hills acting like he was eaten a bowl of potato chips! Rawhead really is one sick son of a devil as he really does eat children in this comic! The cover is cool and showcases the razor sharp teeth of Rawhead Rex but also really does feel dated and has the 90’s independent horror comic look to it, the art inside is done by Les Edwards and has a nice painting meets pen look and this captures the dark and sinister story really well. I should also note that this comic has a back of story taken from the Books of Blood called “Twilight At The Towers” and it’s a good read as well and a perfect backup story. Over all I really enjoyed this comic adaptation of Rawhead Rex and while some parts dragged the over all feeling of dread made it a good comic to read on this October night. If you’re a fan of the short story or even the movie give this comic a read as I am sure you’ll be pleased with the brutal nature and creepy monster. Check out the art below to see the style of Edwards as well as see the glory of what Rawhead looks like in this twisted comic tale.
Rawhead Rex has been defeated again and sent to his grave thanks to a very determined father armed with a statue of a pregnant woman, and with that womanizing monster out of the way, we can continue our countdown to Halloween. While the Halloween update won’t be a custom made comic from a artist friend, it will be something fitting for this year. But before we even announce what that topic will be, I should share what our next one will be about – the classic Marvel comic reprints called Dead Of Night! So I hope you come back to visit for the 5th update in our countdown. Before we go I want to once again say I truly do enjoy the legend of Rawhead Rex, and this update was a fun one to write, even if the comic much like the DVD and VHS was hard to find and cost a good penny to get. So if you’re a farmer, whatever you do, don’t free Rawhead Rex as your town won’t be ready for his path of rage and gross behavior. Until next time, watch a horror film or two, read a horror comic or three and support your local Horror Host and have a great October!