Literature / Rawhead Rex

A short story by Clive Barker, which is a part of his third Books of Blood anthology from 1984.

A farmer in England digs up a large stone in his lands, only to set loose a malevolent monster from the past, called Rawhead. Free from the prison that had hold him for centuries, Rawhead then proceeds to cause mayhem across the countryside.

The story was adapted into film in 1986.

This short story has examples of:

  • Achilles' Heel: Rawhead loathes women who are on their period, and refuses to touch them. But what he really fears is the sight of pregnant women; in the end he is defeated with a talisman that's carved to look like a pregnant woman, which makes him helpless against a mob that kills him.
  • Antagonist Title: Rawhead is the title antagonist.
  • Buried Alive: The people who defeated Rawhead in the past were too superstitious to finish him off, and simply forced him into his tomb where he has been waiting to be free again for centuries.
  • Chest Burster: The offspring of Rawhead's kind is mentioned to have been too much to handle for human wombs, and they tended to burst out on their own.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Rawhead Rex is an abomination that personifies the male sex drive as a living and malicious organism.
  • The End... Or Is It?: After Rawhead is killed, the narration gives suspicious amount of focus to its bladder emptying from liquids that then flow to the nearest ditch.
  • Fangs Are Evil: Rawhead has two rows of sharp fangs in his mouth.
  • Groin Attack: After flipping over a police car, Rawhead drags a constable out of it and cuts off the guy's testicles.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted with vengeance. Rawhead is a Child Eater whose earliest victims in the story include a little girl. Later, he snatches a boy into his jaws as the boy's father can only helplessly watch.
  • Scare the Dog: A pony refuses to go into its stall because it could sense the presence of the titular demon waiting inside, and is so terrified that it craps itself.

Examples from the film adaptation:

  • Adaptational Modesty: Rawhead resembles an ogre that's dressed for a heavy metal concert, whereas in the short story it was a naked being which was essentially a giant walking penis (with its own penis).
  • Monster Delay: Averted, it was Clive Barker's intent to make the monster as visible as possible early in the film.