Clive on Rawhead Rex

Declan turns his attention from the window to the altar.
There is a humming sound in the air, which gets louder as he walks down the aisle towards the altar. He climbs the two steps to the altar, treading the dropped flowers underfoot.
Now the hum is very loud. Beneath it, strange voices rise and fall.
He is within two or three feet of the altar itself. His breath has quickened. His eyes are wild.
He reaches the altar, the voices getting louder with every movement. He touches the altar. As he does so, a vision fills his head -

It is an image of the world Rawhead used to roam and rule. The camera moves at speed through a tangle of barbs and branches, as if it is pursued.

Declan's eyes show white, as he is consumed by this terrifying vision. His hand still clutches the altar.

The camera continues to career through the trees. Ahead, there is a fire through the thicket. The runner makes for it, and breaks through the branches into a chamber of horrors. The camera moves from one apalling sight to the next. Skins and scalps hanging from the branches; a litter of bloody bones underfoot; a human head burning in the fire.

Declan's hand is blistering as it holds on to the altar; his face is twitching. But he doesn't let go. In his mind's eye, he is still in Rawhead's lair.

The camera swings around the lair, looking for an escape-route. But before it can find one, there is a roar from the darkness of the trees. The camera swings round -

Declan lets out a cry.

An awesome form moves out of the shadows towards the camera. we have only a few moments to grasp the size if its jaws, as the teeth appear from its bloody gums.

Declan can't look any longer. he pulls his hand from the altar. His eyes spring wide. the vision has disappeared.
He stands for a few moments, trembling and nauseous, before he dares to look at his hand. There is a burn across the palm and fingers, bleeding and blackened.
Looking at it, he smiles.

Second Draft - 6 January 1986

"I am concerned that the filmmakers be willing to be true to the source material. With all that that implies, in terms of graphicness, its desire to distress, disturb, subvert... 'Rawhead Rex' has some pretty unusual imagery... I mean it's an odd story... So the story has all that material, and all that material is in my screenplay. It remains to be seen how much will survive!"

Catching Up With Clive Barker (as "Horror In Print: Clive Barker")

By Stanley Wiater, (i) Fangoria, No 55, June 1986 (ii) Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden

"There was clearly a misapprehension over what [Underworld] was all about - they told me they wanted a horror movie and then took all the horror out! [I said], 'Look, if I get involved in Rawhead and you take the horror out again, there's nothing left as this is a monster-on-the-loose movie.' As they owned the rights anyway I thought I'd write a first draft and at least have some control over the project. Frankly, I needed the money at the time as well. I wrote a draft and a half and that was literally the last I ever heard from anyone. I was never invited on the set, never saw the promised plane ticket for Dublin, and all I kept hearing were pretty lousy things about the way the film was progressing.
"I'll never understand why I was ignored. It still remains a complete and utter mystery to me. Even to this day I've never received an explanation why I was never consulted over any of the major decisions to change the thrust or details in my original script. Either they thought I was useless and wouldn't have anything to contribute or else they worried I might have some valid opinions which would make too many waves."

Blood And Cheap Thrills

By Alan Jones, Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden (Note: this is complete 1991 rewrite/update of the Rawhead Rex article from Cinefantastique, Vol 17, No 2, March 1987)

"I said to them, 'Look, this is not a good movie,' and they said, 'Well, we know we didn't get it right but we'll get it more right next time. Write a screenplay of Rawhead Rex for us.' So, I was very new to this whole thing and I thought, we'll give it a go. It can't be as bad as Transmutations. And by the way, I don't think Rawhead Rex is as bad as Transmutations. I wrote the screenplay. I'm sure it wasn't a brilliant screenplay, it was my second screenplay, but I think it was probably marginally better than the movie. I followed the process of the book. I wrote a screenplay which was set in England, in the height Rawhead Rex of the summer, so you could really get the full drama out of this strange, dark, child-eating monster lurking in the pleasant countryside of Kent in mid-summer. They called me up and said, 'well, we're going to make the movie, but we're going to make it in Ireland, and we're going to make it in February.' So immediately, a whole counterpoint of this blazing English summer and this ravaging monster just went out of the window. They also didn't spend enough money on the special effects, so you end up with this rubber mask. I didn't actually think the design for the monster itself was bad at all, and I love the poster, but I wasn't comfortable with the picture. The picture tried, but didn't get there...
"I think, generally speaking, the movie followed the beats of the screenplay. It's just that monster movies, by and large, are made by directorial 'oomph' rather than what's in the screenplay. I'd like to think the screenplay for Rawhead Rex had the possibility of having major thrills in it. I don't think it was quite pulled off. The admirers of the movie, and actually there are quite a lot of them, like it as a sort of sixties movie made in the early eighties kind of deal. I don't think the movie is bad, it had a lot more potential. I just don't like it very much. It didn't take any risks at all. It was a very, very straight down the rope movie. Rawhead Rex as an idea, if you're going to do it, you go for broke. You kill little children in it. That's what you put on screen because that's what's in the book. The whole thing should have been visceral. But the interesting thing for me was that when I actually started to think about it I thought, 'okay, at least I know why this doesn't work.' So when we came to do Hellraiser I was determined to compensate for that. And maybe the visceral qualities of Hellraiser are exacerbated..."

Rawhead Rex - The Creator

By [ ], Dread, No 6, 1992

"The same people did Rex and did a much better job with it. Actually a nice picture - I've seen it in rough cut, they didn't have a print they could show me when I last spoke to them, which was about ten days ago, because they had to go back and do some rematting, but otherwise it was looking very good. A nice monster. Vicious. Children still getting eaten in it, which was very nice. The baptism scene was shot, it was in the cut I saw, but it will go. I don't believe urinating on vicars will stay."

The British Invasion: Clive Barker

By Nancy & Robert T. Garcia, American Fantasy, Winter 1987 (note: interview took place in 1986)

"Then [after Underworld] I did a screenplay - foolish now though it was - for the same people, called 'Rawhead Rex'. I've only seen it on tape and it isn't terribly good."

A Little Bit Of Hamlet

Barker at UCLA 25 February 1987, by Dennis Etchison, Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden

"Monster on the rampage stories are about the phallic principle. Large males run around terrorising women. Basically, I wrote a story about a ten foot prick which goes on the rampage. I even put it there in the title - Rawhead Rex - and there's a scene about two-thirds of the way through where the vicar has an image of a skinned dick in his head. I thought 'What's going to destroy a ten foot dick?' (This is getting into Woody Allen territory), so I made this guy absolutely scared of vagina dentata: it'll be bested by an image of rampant female sexuality and it'll say 'get me the fuck out of here.' Now, the gag only works if you understand the subtext, otherwise it's about this dumb monster running around. I couldn't get them to understand that the whole movie had to smell of sex. When this thing appeared you had to think it was a dick, but they didn't get the joke. And it was a joke, that was the point: nobody's going to tell me that King Kong climbing the Empire State Building doesn't mean something sexual.
"I drew this big dick and they said 'it looks like a dark dick to us.' I said 'you've got it.' They thought more Arnold Schwarzenegger and I knew I was in trouble. They got this German ski instructor who was 6' 3" with bigger pectorals than Linda Evans - his tits overshadowed his navel. They got it all completely wrong. I whined at them a little bit and they said 'get out of our face'."


By Brigid Cherry, Brian Robb and Andrew Wilson, Nexus, No 4, November-December 1987

"By that time, in my innocence, I had actually signed five of my stories to them. So I went on, in hope that things would get better, to script for them an adaptation of one of my favourite stories, a story called Rawhead Rex - which is essentially about a nine-foot phallus on the loose! And they locked me off the set. They wouldn't let me anywhere near it. And, again, the movie is horrible.
"I was sort of starry eyed about the whole thing. I think people are starry eyed, I think writers get starry eyed about the movies with horrible frequency, painful, tragic frequency, and I thought, 'This is it, I'll have great fun' and so on and, of course, all the classic things that happen to writers when they first encounter the movies happened. Because of both of those experiences I decided that there was no way forward as a screenwriter. I had to make movies for myself if I was going to do it and it was as a direct consequence of those movies that I made Hellraiser."

The Art Of Horror

By Christopher Holland, video documentary The Art of Horror, 1992

"They were making these movies, promising me the world and delivering nothing. They were cutting the scripts left, right and centre. Everything that could have been wrong with the way that they handled the stuff was wrong. Later on I discovered that the producers, one of the producers in particular, thought that the stuff I had written was just sick and depraved. They basically scorned the whole idea of even being in business with me . They just didn't get the movies. They didn't understand the point I was trying to make. It was just a nightmare. They had no passion for the material. They had no desire to make anything that was fresh or original or good or classy."

Lord Of Illusions - Filming The Books Of Blood

By Michael Beeler, Cinefantastique, Vol 26 No 3, April 1995

"I don't have a problem when people take liberties with my stuff. Books and movies are two different media, and I've even changed my own material with Hellraiser and Nightbreed. Yet adaptations like Rawhead Rex were deeply disappointing, because the filmmakers didn't give a shit about the story's underlying psychology - they just wanted to make a monster movie."

Candyman : A Nightmare Sweet

By Daniel Schweiger, Fangoria, No 117, October 1992

"Oh, I hated them with a passion! I haven't seen them for many a long year and hope never to see them again. But they were the films that made me go and make Hellraiser. It seemed to me, when I looked at these abominations, that they were not really thinking this through. My models at that time were Terence Fisher and Cronenberg and Tobe Hooper - people who were making horror movies that really had some seriousness and guts to them. I thought, 'I don't want to be involved in horror movies that are hokey; I want to make movies that genuinely do the job.'"

Monster Maker

By Kevin G Shinnick, Scarlet Street, No 30, November 1998

"There were only two ways a writer could go [after Underworld & Rawhead Rex]. You could take the money and run, and let Hollywood do what it will - as many have done. Or, you could take the law into your own hands and see what you could do on your own. Those two films propelled me into directing. I would have been perfectly happy to have been a screenwriter the rest of my life if those had turned out well."

No Apologies

By John Wooley, Bloody Best of Fangoria, No 7, 1988

...other comments

Kevin Attew : "There is nothing new with this story concept. It is purely an updated '50s B-movie. Every decade you get a new style of approach to horror and like everyone else we have been influenced to go back and retry the basic themes.
"This is an out and out monster movie - no subtext and no excuses. Having said that, we are not out to make another Reanimator. Full frontal gore is not what this film is about - tension is. The director and I both agreed early on to go for taste, suggestion and stylishness."

Rawhead Rex

By Alan Jones, Cinefantastique, Vol 17, No 2, March 1987

Paul Hart : "Bejeez and begorra. It would appear that we are here in the land of the bogs and the little people. Why here? Well you see not all the people are that little. In fact one of them is about eight feet high and he bites people's heads off. His name? Rawhead Rex ...The exploration of the Pagan/Christian ideals is kept to an absolute minimum. In fact as far as the original story goes in its examination of this, the film is a rather eviscerated retelling... Well you've got to get it past the BBFC somehow."

The Video Eye Of Sam Hain - Rawhead Rex review

By Paul Hart, Samhain, No 9, June/July 1988

George Pavlou : "[It's] a good, honest movie which will shock and entertain. Jaws and Alien notwithstanding, the last great monster movie was King Kong. Apart from the 1,300 separate combinations of movement on the Rawhead animatronic figure, the man-in-suit aspect was something I wasn't used to dealing with. My greatest accomplishment was coaxing a performance out of a latex skin!"

Blood And Cheap Thrills

By Alan Jones, Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden (Note: this is complete 1991 rewrite/update of the Rawhead Rex article from Cinefantastique, Vol 17, No 2, March 1987)

Jon Gregory : "Rawhead Rex is often cited as a favourite BoB story. The film however is another matter. It has frequently been dumped upon and pretty much disowned by Barker himself...Similarities with other Barker work abound, the most notable being the continued theme of the inherent power of the female. The ancient stone talisman that wreaks splashy optical effects upon Rawhead at the film's finale, will do so only for a woman...However, the film itself is far less pretentious in its assumptions, and is satisfied with using Rawhead as a vehicle for some great crowd-pleasing scenes of decapitations, disembowellments and general bloody mayhem.
"It passes what is probably the only test of this type of film, and that is that it's not boring. You may not be leaning forward clutching your seat, but it's doubtful you'll be clutching the fast-forward on your remote either...Rawhead Rex delivers. It may not be a great film, or a great representation of Barker's story, but it's fun. What more is there to say except; Clive, if you're reading this - and I suspect you are - well... er, I liked it."

Rawhead Rex - review

By Jon Gregory, Hellraiser, No 2, 1991

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