“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”


“You got a first name?”


Silent Rage

I don’t consider myself a Chuck Norris fan, but I love INVASION USA and obviously he’s in my favorite Bruce Lee movie WAY OF THE DRAGON and okay, LONE WOLF McQUADE is pretty good and I have to admit I enjoyed DELTA FORCE 2 and also the first MISSING IN ACTION is kinda stupid fun so okay, maybe I like some of his movies, big deal, I could stop at any time.

I watched SILENT RAGE because Panos Cosmatos mentioned it on Shock Waves as a rare example of action-horror. Obviously that’s a hybrid genre that has some appeal to me because it’s my two favorite types of movies combined into one super-movie (and because it’s what I’m trying to do in that next novel I’m perpetually on the verge of finishing).

The highlight of SILENT RAGE is definitely the opening, a long, boiling-over-pot of a sequence that reminds me of the deft camera mastery of HALLOWEEN‘s opening and the stand-alone intensity of SCREAM‘s. It’s just about this guy John Kirby (Brian Libby, ACTION JACKSON, THE MIST) at home in Dallas one random day and the kids are running around causing havoc and the wife is sniping at them and nobody’s paying any attention to him but us as he is sweaty and shaking, talking to his doctor on the phone, vaguely asking for help. Then he says “I’m not gonna make it,” hangs up and stumbles to the chicken coop out back. We stay inside watching out the window and the family is still completely oblivious to anything being wrong as he returns with an ax.

The sequence continues through a mailman hearing the screaming and a police car arriving and yep, that’s Chuck Norris pulling up as Sheriff Dan Stevens (not the actor from THE GUEST and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, the Chuck Norris character) and he comes in and there’s a fight and a chase.

But the real trouble comes in after all is seemingly said and done, when Dr. Spires (Steven Keats, DEATH WISH, Freddy’s Nightmares) and Dr. Vaughn (William Finley, THE FURY, EATEN ALIVE) at “The Institute” where the dying suspect is taken decide to test an experimental treatment on him. There’s some ethical haggling with his psychiatrist Dr. Tom Halman (Ron Silver, TIMECOP, THE ENTITY) but they do this thing that gives him the power to heal. Only flesh wounds though, definitely not psychological ones, because he’s permanently snapped now. Only those two doctors know he’s still alive, and even they don’t realize it when he sneaks out to kill Dr. Tom for wanting to euthanize him.

The two major female characters in the movie become damsels in distress, but for what it’s worth they’re an unusually human and lively version of the archetype. After some uncomfortably forward behavior Dan successfully rekindles an old relationship with Alison (Toni Kalem, SISTER ACT), who works at the lab and is Dr. Halman’s sister. Though their love subplot (including a sex and romance montage set to a song by Katey Sagal) is technically the draggy portion of the movie (rivaled only by the two doctors discussing their experiment), it is a sweet and likable rendition of the old timey manly-man/female-who-he-protects relationship. They joke around with each other and they cuddle alot and after the courtship period he seems sensitive to her needs.

Meanwhile, Tom’s wife Nancy (Stephanie Dunnam, Magnum P.I., PLAY DEAD) is an artist, they make fun of traditional gender roles like the husband expecting the wife to make dinner, and she goes to pick up a pizza. This seems somehow more relatable to me than most movies.

Another thing that happens in between the handful of extended cat-and-mouse or battle sequences that are the main attraction is Dan’s police work with comic relief deputy Charlie (Stephen Furst, ANIMAL HOUSE, the principal in Twister Sister’s “I Wanna Rock” video). The most normal-action-movie thing that happens is a whole tangent about a roving gang of bikers terrorizing a local saloon and Dan having to beat them all up. Highlight: a biker has set up a plank to jump his bike from inside the bar through the window, but Dan hits him in the face with a pool stick so he falls off and the bike makes the jump on its own.

There are some quirky comic relief bits like Dan trying to be a good listener as Charlie confesses a crazy story about accidentally killing his dog when he was six and feeling guilty because he didn’t include it on his job application. Another great Charlie moment is when he’s passing time keeping watch in a hospital room and sort of absent-mindedly reaches for a refrigerator before noticing the bio-hazardous waste warning on it.

But he earns his humanity bravely grappling with Kirby to protect Alison. And there’s SPOILER an almost Swayzian act of sensitivity on Dan’s part when he holds wounded Charlie in his arms and assures him everything will be all right so that he can die without a worry on his mind.

I think a gentle embrace like this would be ridiculed now by the loud and proud dipshit community, so I’m impressed that Chuck did it during a much more macho era. Good for you, younger Chuck.

I’d like this even better if it worked some good gore effects into the kills. But the mechanics of the scares are legit, and there’s some good atmosphere and an eerie ambient synth score by Peter Bernstein (THE EWOK ADVENTURE) and Mark Goldenberg (TEEN WOLF TOO).

Here’s a nice little detail I noticed. There’s a part where Kirby is in a truck that explodes, but then he gets out on fire and runs to jump in some water. As he’s doing it a little flame gets on this tree. It doesn’t seem intentional, but they keep the continuity so when he gets out of the water in a different shot the tree is fully on fire.

At first I thought there might not be much action, but sure enough Chuck gets to kick and shoot and Kirby attacks a moving vehicle and there’s the bar fight and a sort of duel. It could definitely go bigger, but it works as is.

It really is a Chuck Norris horror movie. But I don’t think it’s just some random thing he signed onto – it’s the first movie from his Topkick Productions, and IMDb trivia claims “the first time Norris had complete control of one of his films.” Aaaron Norris is producer and stunt coordinator, and writer Joseph Fraley had done GOOD GUYS WEAR BLACK. Director Michael Miller spent most of his career doing TV movies, though he had done the theatrical releases STREET GIRLS and JACKSON COUNTY JAIL, and his NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CLASS REUNION came out the same year as this.

So, add another one to the list. I liked this one. Please share your thoughts if you’ve seen this and also let me know what other movies might qualify as action-horror – especially ones that include the tropes of action movies (like the bar fight in this one) but with a horror concept.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 16th, 2018 at 11:28 am and is filed under Action, Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

30 Responses to “Silent Rage”

  1. Hero and the Terror is another Norris action/horror hybrid. I’d argue that Death Warrant kinda fits with the whole Sandman thing. Also just checked out 10 Minutes to Midnight with Charles Bronson which has a definite sleazy slasher angle going for it.

  2. Yeaahh, Slasher Search returns!

  3. THE NIGHT STALKER, starring Robert Z’Dar as a voodoo serial killer in a leather vest (it’s the part that got him the MANIAC COP job) and Charles Napier as the hungover cop on the case, is my go-to suggestion in this category. It’s got all the prostitute murders of a sleazy urban slasher and all the exploding warehouse shootouts of a standard action programmer. It also has a random brawl, but I believe it’s at a diner and not a bar. Not sure if that counts.

    THE FIRST POWER has Lou Diamond Phillips as a homicide cop fighting the devil. Basically your standard body-swapping possession horror but with some impressive stunt work, including the first major ratchet fall I ever saw.

    INNOCENT BLOOD grafts a vampire story onto a cop-trying-to-take-down-the-mob story. Underrated movie.

    HE NEVER DIED is a standard action revenge tale of one wrong man taking out a small criminal syndicate, only that one man is some kind of immortal hellbeast. One of my favorites of whatever year that was and Exibit A in why Henry Rollins should have some kind of action career.

    DEAD SNOW 2 is about a thousand times better than the first one and way more of an action movie. It has tanks and practical stunts all over it but is perhaps too much of a dweebfest to qualify as badass cinema.

    NIGHTMARE AT NOON is like a zombie movie where the zombies have guns. The same director, Nico Mastorakis, also made the superior THE ZERO BOYS, a standard slasher setup that’s like a forestbound HILLS HAVE EYES with guns.

    It’s been a while but I’m pretty sure KILLE CONDOM focuses more on the hard-boiled cop on the case (who happens to be gay, don’t make a big thing out of it) than the monster murders themselves. It might qualify.

    I’ve got others but it looks like you already did them.

  4. Not sure if you’ve reviewed these yet, but here’s a few suggestions:

    The TRANCERS series, full stop. You could argue that it’s as much sci-fi as action/horror but so’s THE HIDDEN. It’s like they plunked Dirty Harry into THE TERMINATOR and added THE MATRIX agents, except they’re horror zombies. Truly great stuff.

    THE SEVENTH CURSE, Hong Kong flick from the 80’s with a young Chow Yun Fat. It’s got, quite possibly, EVERYTHING. Body horror, warehouse shootout, weirdo wizard dude, sacrificial babies getting pureed in a giant stone press, walking skeleton that likes to suck the spinal fluid out of his victims before turning into an Alien knock-off, and, of course, bazooka-fu.

    FULL ECLIPSE is the werewolf/cop Mario Van Peebles flick you never knew you needed. Pretty goofy but all in good fun. Plus: Bruce Payne.

    And, just for fun, WOLF COP starring Sonny Chiba. That one is an epic of weirdness but I’m gonna say it fits.

  5. I believe you mean WOLF GUY. WOLF COP is just some retro horror comedy pastiche thing from Canada that has its moments but does NOT star Sonny Chiba.

  6. Shit, you’re right Mr. M. Though you can see why I’d mix them up, I hope.

  7. I remember you reviewing Azumi, but don’t think we ever saw your take on VERSUS. Surely that qualifies?

  8. 10 TO MIDNIGHT is a good combination of slasher and Bronson cop movie.

  9. There’s also DEEP RISING, which has a “Die Hard on boat” thing going on, except with a monster, as well as SPLIT SECOND in which Rutger Hauer plays a badass cop hunting a monster.

  10. I recently watched the Jet Li flick The Sorcerer and the White Snake, which is technically more fantasy than horror or action, but it definitely has elements of both. It has some of the worst-looking, over-ambitious CG I’ve ever seen, which I actually found quite charming.

    Speaking of HK films, I’ve been meaning to brush up on the many Shaw Brothers horror movies I’ve never seen. Looks like you’ve done Boxer’s Omen, but I’ve heard good things about the Black Magic movies. I’ve heard less good things about the Hammer crossover Seven Golden Vampires, but I feel obligated to check that out at least once. Oh, and of course, there’s Mr. Vampire and all the hopping vampire movies and Close Encounters of the Spooky Kind and A Chinese Ghost Story and those Twins Effect movies with Jackie Chan…

  11. The BLACK MAGIC movies are good but there are better (ie, weirder) examples of the Chinese black magic genre, like SEEDING OF A GHOST, CURSE OF EVIL, and HEX. It’s a great genre, full of inexplicable happenings and psychedelic imagery. It’s what I hoped this new folk-horror thing the Internet is nuts about would turn out to be but they all lack the stones to get truly weird. A few more bizarre rituals would have really helped out THE VVITCH.

  12. None of those I mentioned are better than THE BOXER’S OMEN, though. That’s the champ of this particular genre in my opinion.

  13. You reviewed it already but PREDATOR 2 falls firmly into that genre cross-over. Danny Glover as Dirty Harry-meets-Quint in a Joel Silver urban action blockbuster with the sci-fi/horror elements borrowed from the first film, but placed in another jungle. My favorite shot in the whole movie is where he chases the beast in his car up a parking building. It’s like something out of BULLITT but placed in this context is rather thrilling to me. Not all of it works, and the climax loses it’s momentum gradually but I like it almost as much as the first film for these reasons.

  14. I think the recent Scott Adkins movie SAVAGE DOG is a good example of action/horror. Lots of fights and spinning kicks, but it also has some gnarly gore, and pretty much plays out as an origin story for a Voorhesian serial killer.

  15. Really more supernatural than any kind of horror but I still have a soft spot for Ninja 3: The Domination.

    Deep Rising was a great B flick, actually saw that one in the cinema.

  16. I hafta second the nominations above for HE NEVER DIED and THE SEVENTH CURSE. Both of those are legit classics – if there can be ten AMERICAN KICKBOXER movies, there should be twenty movies after HE NEVER DIED, it’s so, so great. Great action, great horror, and awesome dark humor.

    THE SEVENTH CURSE is what happens when you put Chow Yun Fat into the Indiana Jones role in a purely insane fever dream reworking of TEMPLE OF DOOM sleeping over at THE BOXERS OMEN’s house. There is a creature that my drunken buddies and I would call “the butt-munch”. That’s all I can say.

    It’s fresh on my mind, but Clive Barker’s NIGHTBREED is horror with some huge action beats in it. The “Cabal Cut” is the 2 hour 20 minute version of the original chopped-to-hell theatrical 90 minute version, but it’s loaded with so much footage taken from terrible VHS sources that I can’t really recommend it for anyone other than Barker completists.

  17. Not that you guys need to have this pointed out to you, but I think it’s worth mentioning for posterity that the RESIDENT EVIL movies are arguably the most quintessentially action-horror movies ever made, and pretty influential, in their own idiotic way (especially considering the surprising longevity of the series).

  18. No one has mentioned Race With the Devil.

  19. I was thinking of that one because, as I recall, it has an awful lot of dirt-bike chases for a devil cult flick, but I don’t remember it enough to really recommend it.

    Ooh, how about a recent Bigfoot flick called PRIMAL RAGE, which is basically FIRST BLOOD except Rambo is a Sasquatch? I guess maybe that’s technically more PREDATOR with a Sasquatch than FIRST BLOOD with a Sasquatch, but he does use a bow and arrow so I think that qualifies. Definitely one of the two or three best Bigfoot flicks I’ve seen in the past year.

  20. As embarrassed as I am to self-promote, feel free to enjoy this probably unnecessarily detailed write-up we did of “Silent Rage” after reading this synopsis: “Chuck Norris as a small-town sheriff against a psychotic killer, a motorcycle gang, and three mad scientists.”

    Shorter version: I’m surprised at how under-the-radar this is for a Norris flick, since it is surprisingly well-directed (including the aforementioned opening tracking shot), with some colorful touches and actual good performances by the likes of Ron Silver, but it’s also really bonkers around the margins. And if nothing else, at least Simon Pegg and Nick Frost agree, as we noted that in “Hot Fuzz” they made sure to show Frost pick up a copy of “Silent Rage” while perusing a DVD bin.

  21. Sorry, forgot the link:

    Kevin and Mike Tag Team Chuck Norris, a Biker Gang, Three Mad Scientists, and an Indestructible Killer in 1982’s “Silent Rage”!

    Kevin: So Mike, a lot of our readers are probably wondering why, of all the better-known movies in the Chuck Norris catalog, we are choosing to Tag Team the relatively obscure 1982 thriller “Silent…

  22. I saw this one when it came out, and again recently. Unlike Norris himself, the film has aged with some grace. At the time it was basically “Chuck Norris vs. Michael Myers” and it was…OK. The audience I saw it with had either been expecting a Norris action flick, or an ’80s slasher, and were not especially impressed with the end result they were watching. It was a pretty quiet theater.

    But the action holds up. Fairly restrained, practical, believable. And the relationship between Dan and Charlie is pretty solid. The horror aspect I’m a bit more iffy on (as a veteran of far too many ’80s slashers) but overall it’s fine. Science monster rather than unexplained psycho.

    I still think Sheriff Dan should have been sent in to deal with that Crystal Lake situation, though.

  23. This, along with FORCED VENGEANCE and LONE WOLF MCQUADE, belongs to Norris’ “Stetson Trilogy”. CODE OF SILENCE, DELTA FORCE 2 and THE OCTAGON might be strong contenders, but to me they are the only ones worth revisiting.

  24. At first this comment section was pretty much action movie/slashers (Glimmer Man anyone?), but since we’ve gone pretty far afield already I just thought I’d mention the greatest Aliens rip-off with zombies of all time: Zombies the Beginning.


  26. Pegs: yes

  27. Vern mentioned Dan Stevens and The Guest in the review, which made me wonder: does The Guest count as action/horror? I guess there’s really only one significant action scene in it.

  28. I co-sign Innocent Blood and The First Power. I saw The Hero and the Terror at probably too young of an age, and I liked it. Eddie Murphy in The Golden Child was a favorite. Would Brotherhood of the Wolf qualify? For that matter, Big Trouble in Little China might take the cake, but maybe it doesn’t have enough horror.

  29. END OF DAYS would fit that horror/action mix, right?
    How about that movie, with Donnie Yen as the lead, that deals with the antichrist, it’s called SATAN’S CURSE, i think.

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