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Villain Overview

He is God.
~ Declan about Rawhead Rex.

Rawhead Rex is the titular monster from the short story of the same name by the horror author Clive Barker, and its 1986 fantasy horror film adaptation of the same name. The original short story was published in the third volume of the Books Of Blood series.

In the 1986 film, he was portrayed by Heinrich von Schellendorf.

Appearance

For Garrow, death was imminent, and he knew it. He looked down at his legs thrashing uselessly below him, then he looked up and stared directly into Rawhead's pitiless face. It was huge, like the harvest moon, huge and amber. But this Moon had eyes that burned in its pallid, pitted face. They were for all the world like wounds, those eyes, as thought someone had gouged them in the flesh of Rawhead's face then set two candles to flicker in the holes. Garrow was entranced by the vastness of this Moon. He looked from eye to eye and then to the wet slits that were its nose, and finally, in a childish terror, down to its mouth. God, that mouth. It was so side, so cavernous. It seemed to split the head in two as it opened. That was Thomas Garrow's last thought. That the Moon was splitting in two and falling out of the sky on top of him.
~ Thomas Garrow's last moments in Rawhead Rex's hands.

In the original story, Clive Barker described the monster as a 9-foot tall walking phallus with a face like raw meat (hence his name) featuring a large mouth with very sharp teeth. The graphic novel further characterizes Rawhead Rex's appearance by making him lanky and blue.

He is quite different in the movie, looking shorter (albeit still much taller than any of the people in the film) and more ogre-like and fully dressed in armor, with the exception of his head and his exposed chest, which remains uncovered all the way down his abs. He sports a thick and messy mohawk, red glowing eyes, light brown skin and lion-like teeth and a row of human-like teeth further down his gullet.

Personality

He's pure evil. Pure power. Pure terror.
~ The tagline for the movie version of Rawhead Rex.

Rawhead Rex's behaviour is inspired by wild men from European folklore and mythology. Like them, Rawhead is a feral and beastlike as well as somewhat furry or hairy humanoid creature that lurks in the woods. Both in the short story (and its graphic novel adaptation) and the movie, Rawhead Rex is sadistic and brutal

Rawhead Rex's inner thoughts on fire.

, killing all in his presence, even children, with great delight (though it's more apparent in the story, where the creature's smile is written in words, and the graphic novel compared to the movie where Rawhead Rex seems to kill in a more animalistic manner). In the short story and graphic novel, he only decides not to kill a woman because she is on her period (or the "blood cycle"), which sickens him, as do pregnant women (which is touched upon but left unexplained in the film). Otherwise, he has no issues killing or raping them.

In the short story and graphic novel, Rawhead adapts as he learns more about the new world. In the past he'd used fire to cremate the corpses of his victims, but after seeing the effects of gas and a car on fire, he became aware of a new lethal weapon he could use.

Some interpret Rawhead's phallic appearance as him symbolizing masculine aggression, or likely a representation of the male sex drive to its absolute worst and most horrific extreme.

Biography

Burying him was their first mistake. Unleashing him was their last.
~ Tagline for the movie.

Rawhead Rex was an ancient, malevolent, carnivorous, and bloodthirsty beast and the living embodiment of the male sex drive who terrorized the English town, Zeal, in which he resided in. Rawhead was known for devouring children, and violating and impregnating women, with his only fear being that of pregnant women or women on their periods. Rawhead was eventually defeated when the townsfolk buried him alive, where he remained for centuries.

Centuries later, Rawhead was freed from his imprisonment by a hapless farmer, who Rawhead immediately murdered by shoving him down the hole he was imprisoned in. Seeking to regain his power, Rawhead went on a killing spree, first targeting a farm, murdering the family present there. Rawhead then attacked a police officer, castrating him with his claw. After discovering gasoline and learning how to light it aflame, Rawhead set the helpless officer on fire, killing him.

Arriving at the local church, Rawhead corrupted the local Verger, who aids him in murdering the Vicar, Coot. Rawhead continues his killing spree, devouring a child in front of his father, Ron. It is then discovered that Rawhead's weakness is that of a female symbol of a pregnant woman, Rawhead's antithesis and his one fear. When Ron uncovers the idol, Rawhead, fearful of being defeated, sets the town alight to murder the townsfolk, killing the Verger as well. In spite of Rawhead's efforts, he is overwhelmed when Ron uses the symbol to stall him, weakening him and allowing the townsfolk to mob him, beating him until Ron uses the idol to smash Rawhead's skull, thus killing him.

Film

Rawhead Rex's jumpscare before the movie ends.

In the film, Rawhead's design is vastly different and the sexual elements are largely toned down, only being alluded to by Rawhead's ability to be defeated by a magic rock which only works when handled by a woman, and when he baptised one of his followers by ejaculating on their face and body. The monster isn't a rapist and simply kills humans, usually by piercing their jugular artery on his canines.

Unlike the original story, he is shown to be alive in the end.

Powers and Abilities

Though a demon, Rawhead Rex doesn't possess much magic beyond making those in his vicinity anxious with his presence, an effect especially felt by women, who Rawhead knew would never forget him, either from raping them or killing their children.

Rawhead Rex's most prominent ability is his superhuman strength, which he greatly showcases in the original story, the graphic novel and the movie. He can easily tear through flesh and even rip people apart with little to no effort. When Rawhead killed a pony in a barn, it's implied he'd killed creatures far bigger and far better armed creatures, implying Rawhead had been around since prehistoric times.

In his bloodlust, a rifle may pierce through his body but he will ignore it all the same. If he's not thirsty for blood or caught off-guard, guns and machetes from multiple men surrounding him will be able to fatally wound him as seen in both the original story and the graphic novel, in which he was eventually killed by getting his head smashed in with the idol, which is essentially a boulder.

Rawhead Rex potentially shrugs off bullets and an explosion.

The movie gives Rawhead Rex even greater strength and durability, being able to flip a van and take bullets and survive a nearby massive explosion from a gas tank, which blew up and completely destroyed a van.

He is defeated differently from the source material, by getting immobilized through the idol and having the ground collapse below him, effectively burying him with the idol which falls down as well, though in the end it's revealed that he bursted out of the earth and got free again.

Trivia

  • Heinrich von Schellendorf worked out for two months in order to get into shape to play Rawhead Rex. Moreover, it took two hours to put von Schellendorf in the Rawhead Rex costume.
    • He was 6' 11" (2.11 m) at the time.
  • Clive Barker hated the film, being very unhappy with some of the acting and especially with Rawhead Rex's ogre-like design, as he intended the monster to look like a giant phallus, since he'd written the screenplay and the movie was mostly faithful to the original story. This dissatisfaction inspired him to take a more central role when making Hellraiser.
    • The special effects team only had four weeks to make the Rawhead Rex costume. Moreover, the Rawhead Rex costume was done as a single piece with latex skin. Despite budget restraints, the fiberglass and animatronic head gave Rawhead Rex movement and the ability to emote, and there were fiber optics and deflectors put in the creature’s eyes to give that glowing movement effect. The creature also had animatronic hands for his retractable claws.
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