Rawhead Rex

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domino harvey
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Rawhead Rex

#1 Post by domino harvey » Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:03 am

SOMEONE HAS AWAKENED HIM

Adapted for the screen by acclaimed horror writer Clive Barker (Hellraiser, Nightbreed) from his short story of the same name, Rawhead Rex sees a hulking, ancient demon tearing a bloody swathe across the Irish countryside.

When an unsuspecting farmer pulls up a stone column embedded in a barren field, he accidentally unleashes hell by freeing Rawhead Rex a hulking monster that has been trapped there for thousands of years. With the seemingly unstoppable demon rampaging through the local village, American historian Howard Hallenbeck is faced with the task of putting Rawhead back in the ground for good.

The first of several films to be adapted from Barker s seminal Books of Blood series, Rawhead Rex has garnered a strong cult following over the years now clawing its way to the surface in a stunning new 4K restoration from the original camera negative.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

Brand new 4K restoration from the original camera negative
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original Uncompressed Stereo and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Audio commentary with director George Pavlou, moderated by author Stephen Thrower
Call Me Rawhead an interview with actor Heinrich von Bünau
What the Devil Hath Wrought an interview with actor Ronan Wilmot
Rawhead FX featurette bringing together interviews with creature effects artists Peter Mackenzie Litten and John Schroonraad, special effects supervisor Gerry Johnson, second unit cameraman Sean Corcoran and make-up artist Rosie Blackmore
Interview with cameraman Sean Corcoran
Rawhead Rising artist Stephen R. Bissette on the aborted Rawhead Rex graphic novel adaptation
Animated behind-the-scenes image gallery
Original Trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Wes Benscoter
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector s booklet featuring writing on the film by Kat Ellinger

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domino harvey
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Re: Rawhead Rex

#2 Post by domino harvey » Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:17 am

I have not seen this, but I've read the rather slim Barker story and it's my understanding that Barker stopped being so free with licensing his work early on after seeing the results here

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Big Ben
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Re: Rawhead Rex

#3 Post by Big Ben » Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:51 am

Barker referred to the monster as a "nine foot phallus with teeth" so your statement is right on the money.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Rawhead Rex

#4 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:39 am

Isn't Barker's title itself supposed to be a dick joke?

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Adam Grikepelis
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Re: Rawhead Rex

#5 Post by Adam Grikepelis » Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:50 am

domino harvey wrote:it's my understanding that Barker stopped being so free with licensing his work early on after seeing the results here
It's said after this and Underworld (aka Transmutations), he decided he'd be directing the next one for himself. I remember this film being not too bad, but cheap. I saw it in the late '80's/early '90's, around the same time I read Barker's Books of Blood stories, and the film was a fairly anemic rendition of the source material - though that's not saying much, given the only director who's truly captured his writing on screen is Barker himself.
Last edited by Adam Grikepelis on Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Rawhead Rex

#6 Post by knives » Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:02 pm

I thought Midnight Meat Train did a decent job.

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Re: Rawhead Rex

#7 Post by Adam Grikepelis » Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:25 pm

Yeah, I didn't mind it either (though I found its style a bit offputting), and I like The Candyman reasonably enough too - I just don't think either actually capture the substance of what Barker was working at in the original stories. But it's been a while, I'd need to re-read them to say anything more than that. It's all good though, I've actually been comparing a film & it's source when I've not seen or read either in about 25 years. I'm not sure I could give a definitve opinion on anything after that length of time.

That said, I did buy the Kino Lorber release of Rawhead Rex - still waiting to be watched - so I guess my memory of the film can't be too awful after all. Looks like Arrow've replicated the extras right down to liner notes by Kat Ellinger; I like KL's Sean Phillips cover art a whole lot more though.

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Big Ben
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Re: Rawhead Rex

#8 Post by Big Ben » Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:35 pm

My dude out here looking like an orc from a Roger Corman Lord of the Rings rip off.

Image

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domino harvey
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Re: Rawhead Rex

#9 Post by domino harvey » Fri Feb 23, 2018 2:42 pm

It's bizarre to me that the most clearly movie-translatable stories from Books of Blood haven't been adapted-- one could see a great Tales From the Crypt-style anthology film built on "How Spoilers Bleed," "the Life of Death," "Down, Satan!", "Revelations," and "In the Hills, the Cities"-- all works that are relatively straight forward and lacking the unfilmable prurience ("the Age of Desire" et al) or metaphysical amorphousness ("the Madonna" et al) of many of the other stories in the six volumes

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Re: Rawhead Rex

#10 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Feb 23, 2018 3:22 pm

One of the big problems with Barker's work though is that his stories feel perfectly suited to the page. It is not just that he deals with difficult to film, taboo material (though that does not help!) but also that a lot of the emotional power of the work seems to come about less through the fantastical events and amazing creatures on display but through the passages of internal monologue inside the character's heads. Once the surface layer of imagery gets translated into actual pictures it almost kind of ends up crudening the dark poetry of Barker's imagination somewhat into almost laughable imagery (for example the most notorious scene in Rawhead Rex kind of plays out through the eyes of a father and his internal reaction to loss, rather than detailing the actual visceral event too much). Even Barker's own directed films have suffered from that problem to a certain extent!

A story like "The Life of Death", which I love as kind of a "Typhoid Mary meets Looking For Mr Goodbar" tale full of irony and almost too ripe ironic metaphors would be difficult to adapt simply because a lot of its power comes from the internal ponderings of the traumatised into morbid introspection main character that ends up externalising and transforming the world around her. Adapted purely for the surface 'action' of the story however, and it might make the character seem spectacularly (even maliciously!) dim-witted!

I think there is something fundamental about the way that words on a page can describe a horrific scene but still allow for a kind of distanced perspective - an intellectualised approach to the horrific - that allows Barker's best work (which the Books of Blood are) to describe events but in such a way that would otherwise be overwhelming or unbearable (or almost laughable) if actually visualised. Something like the moment inside the tomb in "The Life of Death" would be overwhelming to almost a tackily bad taste extent if portrayed on screen, but the clinical description in text form allows for the dead to somehow retain their dignity whilst being clinically observed by the main character. She is thoroughly contaminated by the sight that she witnesses whilst the reader is spared such close contact.

___

Having said that (and this is a silly aside but domino's comments made me think of it) I have long imagined an adaptation of the Books of Blood. I have always thought that the best way of tackling the material would not be to stretch the stories out into features (much as I love Candyman it is the dazzling exception that proves the general rule) but keep them as short pieces for them to have their maximum impact. If I were tackling it, I think I would want to adapt the stories as an anthology film that takes the five or six characters from the wraparound title story of ghostly shenanigans turned real and then after they get thrown into hellish purgatory use that as a premise for re-casting the same set of actors over and over again in a few of the other stories, each time having the actors familiar to us having their memories of their past lives and each other erased and placed into the new context of each story. Do a Cloud Atlas and have the lead of one story become a supporting character in another, or even just make a 'cameo appearance', which could cause all sorts of resonances between the different stories. I would perhaps even go further and have the entire environment re-shape itself at the climax of each story into the opening of the next one, usually done to a music cue!

The one transition that I really liked imaging happening would go (to the rhythm of We Come 1 by Faithless) from the ending of one of the more urban set stories (say the bonfire end of The Forbidden, which inspired Candyman) into the island setting of Scape-Goats, by showing a tower block get submurged with water the camera looking inside out at the rising water level until the windows break and flood the interior before transitioning outside to a vision of all of the buildings deep underwater, with eventually the buildings themselves crumbling apart and providing the rubble of a sea bed, before the camera moves up to reach the surface and the yacht from the next story hoves into view, the various characters lying there in first positions ready for the new story to begin!

The benefit of a structure like that would be that a film could be quite faithful to the meat of the short stories themselves, but there would also be room for a filmmaker to go completely wild with imagery in the interstitial, gristly connective tissues linking between them!
Last edited by colinr0380 on Mon Mar 19, 2018 4:22 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Adam Grikepelis
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Re: Rawhead Rex

#11 Post by Adam Grikepelis » Sat Feb 24, 2018 1:59 am

I've long since given up on being interested in films because they've been sourced from author's I love, as it almost inevitably leads to disappointment. As you say Colin, what works well for the page does not necessarily translate well to the screen, and takes another really talented writer/director to capture the intent in another medium.
I almost feel like it might be possible to create an anthology TV series based on the Books of Blood stories given what's been made in recent years - though the tendency for sex & violence to coalesce in Barker's early work is exactly the fertile ground that seems to drive particularly US censors round the bend. Yet, with all of the (erect) cock on display in American Gods, I'm not really sure what filmmakers can get away with these days. That way the tales could stick to single episodes or spread out to two or three in order to use the time they need without diluting the work. I do think domino's right though, there are BoB stories that are far more translatable, yet everyone perhaps naturally gets drawn to the more visceral, cerebral tales. New Murders in the Rue Morgue would be an interesting one.

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Re: Rawhead Rex

#12 Post by M Sanderson » Sat Feb 24, 2018 4:44 am

knives wrote:I thought Midnight Meat Train did a decent job.
To an extent. Bradley Cooper made a terrific Barker stand in. Vinnie Jones, against all expectations, made for a haunted, mute killer.

But the Japanese director added too much cartoon violence, at least in the extreme version, with popping eyeballs pushing things too far into hysteria for me.

For me Candyman is the best adaptation of Barker by far; Hellraiser 3 has many qualities that have been unacknowledged after a couple of perceptive reviews in 1992; personally I admired the modest Book of Blood for its elegant shooting style and broodingly romantic atmosphere, as well as Dread, which came out around the same time.

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Re: Rawhead Rex

#13 Post by M Sanderson » Sat Feb 24, 2018 4:47 am

Oh, I do think RR is terrible.

Recall it having little atmosphere in its rural setting, little feeling of magic or terror.

Firing laser beams from talismans, at the hulking Predator...

But props to Arrow giving ppl the opportunity to see it in better shape than ever before. It’s 80s video shop fare, it has a brand name (Barker), ppl will lap it up. As with the terrible Creepshow 2, which is “validated” by Romero and King.

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Re: Rawhead Rex

#14 Post by Big Ben » Sat Feb 24, 2018 9:05 am

I don't think a Clive Barker Anthology would be an issue on a paid cable network. Showtime could certainly do it as they had Masters of Horror some time ago.

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