Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Silent Rage (1982) - by Mark Oswald


Here’s something you don’t see every day: a low budget slasher-movie mixed with an even lower budget Chuck Norris action vehicle.

When a clandestine psychopath (wearing a fully-buttoned collared shirt so you know he’s crazy) finally wigs out and kills two people in their suburban home in Texas, local Sherriff, Dan Stevens is called to the scene to deal with the perpetrator. After some of the most poorly choreographed fight scenes I’ve ever seen in a film…of any kind, the killer ends up being shot multiple times by Dan’s fellow officers. It’s then that he’s taken to the local hospital that coincidentally doubles for a research facility…and placed under the care of three doctors. One is Dr. Tom Halman, a level-headed guy played by Timecop villain Ron Silver, who seems to have everyone’s best interests at heart when he makes the decision to let the killer die of his wounds, rather than be subjected to an experimental formula devised by his creepy associates. One that, according to them, could possibly save the man’s life, though the side effects would be completely unpredictable. If the good doctor’s orders had been properly followed we probably wouldn’t be talking about this film right now, so it’s pretty obvious that once Halman leaves the room, the remaining doctors, Spires and Vaughn, decide to administer the formula anyway. 

What happens next is just really a shock to everyone (unless they read the film’s description on the DVD case or online somewhere). The killer, awkwardly played by Brian Libby, gains a Wolverine-like or The Crow-like ability to heal himself after being injured. I have to say that the practical effect they use to show the healing process is one of the more admirable things about the film. So I will give the filmmakers points for that one. What I will NOT give them points for are the ridiculously obvious ways they rip-off John Carpenter’s Halloween. From the P.O.V. shot walking into the house, grabbing a knife, etc. at the beginning to placing bodies around the house to surprise his next supposed victim. They’re all here once again for you to enjoy, only in a far inferior movie.

So what do you think?

One thing that surprised me though, was the relationship between Chuck and his girl. They start the film bickering, due to their previous failed relationship, but when things get going again between them, they really seem to be into each other, like convincingly. They have a surprisingly good chemistry, which I normally wouldn’t expect between Chuck and anyone outside of his pet Armadillo from Invasion U.S.A. The two of them even spend a whole day just having sex and nibbling off this fruit & cheese plate that always seems to be nearby. I do have to mention that Chuck’s character, Dan Stevens, has a big “Texas-sized” belt buckle sporting a huge “S” in the center. As corny as this is, I also found it to be a nice little personal touch to help any Norris fans to distinguish Stevens from Walker, Texas Ranger. Because aside from the belt buckle, his outfit is damn near identical. Oh, and I guess since he has a full beard in Walker and only a mustache in this one, that they are totally different characters. Another excellent personal touch!

So what do YOU think?

There is a great bar fight in the middle of the film where Chuck’s partner/comic relief, played by Steven Furst, leaves him to “call for backup.” Even though any self-respecting Norris fan knows that he needs no help in defeating an entire bar full of unruly bikers. The fighting here is slightly better choreographed than that abominatiuon in the first scene. Or maybe there’s just more going on to distract your eyes. This scene is a lot of fun and I really wished the movie had featured more like it (Chuck kicks a guy in the face roughly seven times before the dude hits the floor). If there had been, it probably would have been more entertaining all around. You see, there are several “stalking” scenes where the Michael Myers-esque Libby slowly follows his victims around in the dark. I don’t understand why sometimes he is moving at a literal snail’s pace, and then all of a sudden he’ll burst into action and go after people like his life depended on it. Needless to say, the majority of these scenes aren’t all that exciting since there really isnt’t any tension, probably because of Libby’s general goofiness.

Also, I just have to mention the part where Libby gets dragged by a car through grassy terrain. It’s clearly somebody really getting dragged here, which always these types of stunts more exciting to watch. Finally, I’m not really giving anything away, but the final battle between Chuck and Libby could almost rival They Live in its awkwardness and extreme length. Then again, I did say “almost.” Another plus is Ron Silver. He’s a good actor and I’m surprised he hasn’t had more high-profile work. He sort of gives the film some legitimacy here and there. Also, he’s looking kind of like Al Pacino in Serpico in this one, which is obviously a plus. And come to think of it, I’ll be damned if he hasn’t aged in the time between this film (1982) and Timecop (1994). Good genes, I guess.

Local Roadkill BBQ was a bad choice...

Well I think overall this movie is definitely worth a look, if only for its own oddities. “Michael Myers” vs. Chuck Norris? Sign me up.

Body Count – 10

Number of times Halloween is ripped off – 7 (at least)

This came up in the "Silent Rage" Google search...?

No comments:

Post a Comment