Rawhead Rex by Clive Barker

I found this story to be interesting but I really did not like this one. The entire story was gross to me. It starts out with Rawhide Rex being freed from his prison and murdering the man who set him free. We discover that the people who originally imprisoned him buried him alive with a stone heavy enough to hold him down. It’s never explained why everyone really forgets the story about Rawhead Rex, but it assumed that time is the culprit. Eventually, people stop believing in things when the even is no longer fresh in their mind, and there is no written proof of the story.

The story starts when Rawhead Rex gets released from his prison buried deep in the ground, and he goes on a killing rampage. Rawhead Rex kills anyone and everyone in his path. He goes onto leave the remains of his victims where he finds them. Sometimes only leaving a random foot and shredded clothing.

The worst part for me was the way Rawhead Rex desired to eat babies and children. I wanted to throw up at the descriptions and I almost could not finish this story. I don’t like stories with children and babies being murdered in such a way. I think that’s because being a mom I want to protect my children from anything that will harm them. Then you have Rawhead Rex describing how delicious they are and how much he prefers them over grown adults.

I will say this about the story. The details were rather vivid, and I think that’s what evoked such emotion out of me. Clive Barker carefully chose his words for this story, and he did a good job with it. He really brought to life the horror that this creature could wreck upon the world. The author focused more on what Rawhead Rex was doing rather than the setting around him. We are given enough information as to the setting to be able to fill the missing details that most authors give you in a story. This story could take place in any town almost anywhere in the world, and it would fit.

What I would have liked to have seen was more about what scared Rawhead Rex. He mentioned that he could smell the blood on the woman and that was poison to him. Well why was it? I didn’t really understand that part. What made a woman’s time of the month so deadly to him? Rawhead Rex is even repulsed by it and is ready to leave but instead eats the pony and thinks about what he is going to do. He never really has a plan on how he is going to get his revenge and become the King. All he does is succeed in getting himself brought down and killed by the people of this town.

Another thing I would have liked more explanation of was this stone was that they found inside the altar. What was it’s significance? What power did it hold over him? Was it because it was a holy relic or the idea that it was something from God.

As much as I did not like this story I would have like a few things answered. I think this is why I don’t read shorter stories. While the story leaves you with a sense of dread and turns your stomach, I think it could have given us a little more to go on.

3 thoughts on “Rawhead Rex by Clive Barker

  1. I agree with you that I could have lived a long time without reading Barker’s descriptions of how eager Rex was to eat children. I think so much of the horror of this story comes from the carefully chosen evocative language and the emotional response we have to it. Rex anticipates the delights of eating children with sensual language you would normally see involved in a non-horror story about romance or a pleasant memories of a holiday meal. It’s off-putting and abhorrent, which makes it great, but devastating.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Louise,

    It is interesting to read a response that was different than my own! This was my favorite story so far—and definitely not because Rex savored children. That was horrifying. However, for me, this is a story I will refer to over and over as Rex is quite literally the epitome of the monsters that I’ve buried beneath the mountains of my own tiny town in the novel I am working on for my thesis! Everything about Barker’s story was so similar in theories and ideas. (I am not writing horror, but middle-grade fantasy-ish, so fear not my kids are going to kick some giant butt!). But the concept is the same, the ancient evil monster wants revenge for imprisonment, and wants to rule humanity and be worshipped. But the evil things were imprisoned because the EAT people! This is a thing! LOL

    I adored the idea of the stone and you are correct now that I think about how little information is given about its actual meaning and power. When I was reading, I was certainly assignment my own meaning, connecting dots and making my own correlations. For me, that stone was my David’s stone (David slayed Goliath) and the stone pushed into the forehead was reminiscent of that story as well. I think I completely ignored Barker’s actual description and inserted my own, which I am complete okay with.

    The woman’s blood was not explained either, but to say that was forbidden. Again, I inserted my own mythological and theological ideas to the story as it relates to my own story. In biblical times, woman were put out of the communities during their times of month. That blood was forbidden. So I am back to my biblical day “giants,” and Hebrew mythology of giants and nephilim.

    Even the idea that is giant was a pagan God for the giant obsessed (heehee, me) it made sense as in all mythologies there are giants that are worshipped as Gods. On theory is that these are all the biblical giants who were Workshop in days of old. Beast described as half-man half-animal were worshipped in ancient Egypt amongst many other cultures. So, with my obsession in mind, this story was perfect for me.

    I struggled with the intent of the giants motivation in my own work, as every time I say they simply want revenge, want to rule the world, but the eat people, I’ve been met with but why? As if that motivation isn’t enough…maybe its not. But when I finished Rawhead Rex, my first words were…”SEE!” See what will happen if they get free! LOL.

    I am clearly having a good time in Monsters class this week!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Louise,

    Great point about the stone in the altar being a loose end. I assumed that Rawhead ‘converted’ Declan Ewan so he could remove or destroy the stone, but Ewan seemed to act more as a guardian, which doesn’t make much sense. My own reading is that Rawhead’s vulnerability to the stone was psychological, but who knows? Barker never tells us.

    I agree that many of the details of this story are extremely graphic and disgusting. I guess Barker wanted to make Rawhead as inhuman and abhorrent as possible, and he certainly succeeded.

    Best,
    George

    Like

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