What if you combine the director of Jackson County Jail — Michael Miller — and Chuck Norris, America’s favorite karate man, then make Chuck fight the Frankenstein Monster in a movie that’s as if John Wayne wandered into a slasher? Then you’d have 1982’s utterly bizarre Silent Rage (or the 2009 remake, Indestructible).
Seriously — Chuck Noris sidekicks an unstoppable killer. Why you’re reading this and not looking for this movie is beyond me.
Somewhere in Texas, John Kirby (Brian Libby, Floyd from The Shawshank Redemption) kills two of his family members and is stopped by Sheriff Daniel Stevens (Norris) and his deputy Charlie (Stephen Furst, Animal House). Kirby breaks free and is shot several times before being brought back to life by his psychiatrist, Dr. Thomas Halman (Ron Silver!), who is working along with genetics experts Dr. Phillip Spires (Steven Keats, Death Wish) and Dr. Paul Vaughn (William Kinley, the Phantom of Paradise himself!).
Now the killing machine is mute and unkillable and even worse, on the run. Somehow, Sheriff Dan is dating Alison, the sister of Dr. Tom, and Kirby is killing everyone in his way. So Chuck Norris does what he does best — sidekicking. After lots of murder, he sidekicks the monster down a well, where he survives to set up a sequel that never came.
Michael Miller said the film was written with Norris in mind, telling Coming Soon: “You don’t hire Chuck Norris not to do karate. It wasn’t like it was an old John Wayne script that they ended up giving to Chuck. He does his thing. I think the idea was to try and broaden the audience in that it wasn’t a karate movie. In my mind, it was a Frankenstein movie. It was like Frankenstein meets Chuck.” What it wasn’t was inspired by slashers, as Miller wasn’t a fan.
“At the end, the guy is still not dead. But that never happened. I would have liked that. You can see that this guy is not a slasher. He kills people the way Frankenstein’s creature kills people. He throws them and bang,” said Miller.
Meanwhile, Miller worked with most of the crew for this movie and Stephen Furst on another film that came out in 1982, National Lampoon’s Class Reunion. And listen for the song “It’s The Time For Love” on the soundtrack. That’s Peg Bundy, Katey Sagal, singing.
You can watch this on Crackle or on Amazon Prime with Rifftrax commentary.
The Frankenstein connection makes sense—big dead guy reanimated by scientists—but I’m surprised that a slasher similarity wasn’t intended. The most recent time I watched SILENT RAGE, I noticed that John Kirby was like Michael Myers or Jason Voorhies, but with more of a science-fiction origin story.
Both times I’ve watched SILENT RAGE I’ve been disappointed. It doesn’t have enough of any of its ingredients to be fulfilling. It’s not really an action movie, because it’s too slow. It’s not really science fiction or horror either. The small-town setting is dry and bland. It takes forever for the heroes to change tactics to compensate for the killer being unkillable, and then they just throw him down a well? They don’t think that he might have survived since he’s, you know, unkillable? They should encase him in cement and drop him into the ocean, or see if he can regenerate from a mass-dispersal weapon. Though I guess there wouldn’t be room for a sequel.
My favourite parts of the movie are Ron Silver’s character’s domestic bliss, the three scientists discussing what to do about the patient and arguing the ethics of it, and the initial confrontation between Chuck Norris and the biker leader. “Me and my boys chew up towns like this.” “That tells me something. You’ve never been through this town before.” Great dialogue in a mediocre movie. 🙂