Saturday, October 25, 2014

Silent Rage

1982's SILENT RAGE, while being yet another in a cycle of Chuck Norris vehicles where the former kickboxing champion gets to beat the hell out of people, is actually a horror movie. The only one in Chuck's oeuvre, I think. Therefore, I am including it in this month's series.

It was also the first R-rated film I ever saw in a movie theater. On my 13th birthday, in fact. My friend and his mother took me. They had already seen it and were eager to gauge my reaction. I was wide-eyed and a little nervous. I think I was worried my parents or youth minister or even Jesus would bust in and drag me out by my ear. SILENT RAGE was filled with violence, but more scandalously, there was some nudity and sex. Things that the people in my world repeatedly stated were the really sinful elements in entertainment. Syringes plunged into necks and repeated roundhouse kicks to the skull? No problem!

The story: psycho John Kirby (Brian Libby) kills his family and is later shot down by Sheriff Dan Stevens (Norris) and his tubby partner Charlie (Stephen Furst, "Flounder" from ANIMAL HOUSE). Hovering near death, Kirby is taken an institute where a psychiatrist named Halman (Ron Silver) and two medical doctors/geneticists work. Seems they've been experimenting with some mysterious serum. After some bickering about ethics, one of the docs decides to try it on Kirby, who soon revives and becomes an unstoppable killing machine. What follows is your typical killer on the loose scenario, with gory deaths, unintentional laughs, and gratuitous love scenes.

But this is also a Chuck Norris movie, so we also get a scene in a dive bar where an entire motorcycle gang is beaten to a pulp by our hero. Well, not until after one of the biker chicks flashes her tattooed breasts to Charlie, who races outside and excitedly calls his friend while Stevens does his business. The climax of the scene is of a chopper crashing through a window in slow motion after its rider is knocked off.  Pretty dramatic, I'll say.

I re-watched SILENT RAGE not long ago and of course I found it ridiculous and indefensible. Low grade trash. Entertaining and atmospheric, though. Director Michael Miller even does a decent job of making the film creepy. All descriptors I could use for any slasher film of the early '80s. You might expect this film to be a strange mix of blood and martial arts, but it blends more successfully than you might think. Probably even moreso after you've broken the seals of several bottles of Olde English 808. Fans of Chuck and horror should have a decent time.

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