No one was immune to the slasher craze happening between 1980-1982. Not even Chuck Norris. Therefore, in 1982 at the height of the slasher craze, we got Silent Rage, an odd amalgam of Chuck Norris actioner and Halloween rip-off (I always found Wikipedia’s classification of the film as a “action/romance/science fiction/horror movie” pretty amusing). This is a movie that makes no bones about how blatantly it is ripping off other popular ideas of the time (you’d think this were an Italian genre movie) — it also has a bit of The Terminator in it and even makes time for a little “Dukes of Hazzard” hillbilly hijinks with the obligatory fat deputy character — which, I have to say, makes for a pretty entertaining 100 minutes.
The film concerns itself with a former mental patient, John Kirby (Brian Libby), who we’re introduced to on a hectic morning filled with telephones ringing, children screaming, and all sorts of little annoyances that would cause Kirby to further lose his grip on reality. As he wanders around the noise-filled house, he places a phone call to his doctor informing him that he’s “losing it,” and doesn’t think he can keep it together much longer. Well, “much longer” is about two minutes. After failing to distract himself with cutting wood and gathering some chickens, Kirby just decides to take an axe inside and murder two people.
Enter Sheriff Dan Stevens (Norris), who with no help from his incompetent and chubby deputy Charlie (Stephen Furst), takes out Kirby who is transported to the hospital where he is expected to die from his wounds. However, in a secret experimental wing of the hospital, three doctors work on Kirby using powerful drugs that regenerate cells. The head doctor, Spires (Steven Keats), utters lines like, “As beautiful a creature created by nature” so that we know he’s the evil doctor who has no problem experimenting on humans as long as it gets him his
And that’s essentially what Silent Rage has up its sleeve: it pits Chuck Norris versus Michael Myers. All of the film’s stalking scenes are just rehashed bits from Halloween and Halloween II; all of the film’s action scenes are just rehashed bits from previous Chuck Norris movies like Breaker, Breaker; and the film’s ending is just The Terminator with its take on the indestructible monster. There’s even a scene at the end — after Norris has hip-tossed the Kirby a well stating that "it's over" so that we know that it for sure isn't over — where the film can't help but milk one last cliche as the camera pans over to the well and then down into the well, and...yeah, you know where this is going. The monster emerges from the waters of the well, springing up into frame before the shot freezes. End credits. It wouldn't be a slasher in 1982 without a retread of the Friday the 13th ending (itself a retread of the Carrie ending...I love horror movies).
Silent Rage is goofy, harmless cheese (I mean just look at that poster...how can you not have at least a little affection for this movie), and it should be seen as nothing more than that. There’s absolutely nothing offensively awful about the film. It’s kind of hilarious to watch the film stumble its way through so many genres (especially the Halloween “dead bodies arranged in a room” scene). The film shoehorns in so many awkward scenes in the hopes that it will appeal to both Chuck Norris fans and slasher fans. Between the typical hillbilly sheriff/deputy interactions, the stupid barroom brawl that feels like it’s from a totally different movie, the hilariously anti-climactic ending, the late Ron Silver's glorious overacting, and the bizarre interlude where Norris seduces an ex-girlfriend (I suppose this is where Wikipedia gets off calling the film a “romance” movie), Silent Rage goes down easily enough. And for a slasher flick, let alone a Chuck Norris slasher flick, that’s all I ask for.