Friday, December 31, 2021


 by Anthony King

Chuck Norris and Flounder: The Odd Couple.

The light at the end of the 52/82 tunnel is a tiny pinhead of a spot, but I can see it. As I was rewatching film 37 it occurred to me that, if blessed enough to have the opportunity to write for F This Movie! for another year, maybe I should finally tackle my true love: '80s cop movies, aka Neon Badges (if you know you know). I hear you asking, “Why? We're waiting with bated breath. Do tell us, oh elusive Anthony, why, in fact, film 37 would elicit such memories of podcasts past?” Film 37, dear reader, is the Chuck Norris action/sci-fi/horror and, yes, '80s cop movie, Silent Rage.
I first came across Silent Rage five years ago by accident. I was meaning to watch something else (what, I couldn't tell you now) and confused the titles up. Luckily for me I was thrown into a crazy Walker, Texas Ranger--Frankenstein--Halloween hybrid co-starring Flounder from Animal House. It is a movie that has lived in my brain ever since I first saw it, and it's one of the reasons my love of '80s cop movies has evolved into an obsession. Here we have blondie Chuck Norris rushing to the scene after a crazed husband and father named John Kirby takes an axe to his boarder and wife. After a stereotypical Chuck Norris fight scene within the first five minutes of the film, Kirby is arrested. But there's something different about this man, er, mutant. What we're witnessing is the origin story of a comic book villain, or possibly the effects of bath salts or PCP. While handcuffed in the back of a cruiser, Kirby rips his cuffs apart, kicks the door off, and proceeds to beat the hell out of half a dozen deputies before he's finally shot to death. But wait! This is a supervillain origin story. Which means (SPOILERS) he never dies (complete with Carrie ending). Kirby is taken to the hospital where Ron Silver operates on him, fails to save his life as we know it, and walks away, leaving him in the care of Steven Keats and William Finley in the Dr. Frankenstein and Igor roles, respectively. Like in Frankenstein, the monster escapes the lab, but in this version turns into Michael Myers who stalks Ron Silver in the Jamie Lee Curtis role (hello Blue Steel connection). Have I lost you yet?

While at the hospital, Norris runs into an old flame played by Toni Kalem, who turns out to be Ron Silver's sister. Upon their initial meeting, Kalem slaps Norris, he smirks, and then says, “How ya been?” in that Chuck Norris schmooze. There are many things I don't care to see in my movie-watching, and one of those things is horny Chuck Norris. As a matter of fact, I can think of only a small handful of things in cinema that I find more repulsive than Chuck Norris in romantic mode. Let's be honest, folks. Chuck Norris is a hell of an action star. I love his movies. He's got great facial hair and he can kick really high in tight-fitting jeans. But horny Chuck Norris is as pleasing as chewing on moldy toenails. He is so goddamn horny in this movie, it's infuriating. Included in Silent Rage is the most awkward love-making montage in cinema history. I challenge you to find a more uncomfortable montage of people trying to have sex. Again, Chuck Norris: helluva punch and kick. But I've seen bricks that contain more charisma than this man. He is a sucking wound of glamour. In this single three-minute montage of maladroitness, we see our couple feeding each other fruit before going full make-out (mouths full of half-chewed berries) while Chuck pushes the remaining fruit away with his bare foot (was the camera push-in necessary?). We see the two of them swinging recklessly and wildly on a hammock, again involving fruit. All while Peg Bundy herself, Katey Sagal, is belting out the song “It's the Time for Love.” Like a car wreck, it's impossible to look away from this nightmare.
Stephen Furst acts as our misplaced and awkwardly-timed comic relief as Charlie, deputy to Norris' sheriff Dan (if ever there was a Dan, Norris is it). The comedy seems so out of place it's easy to forgive viewers' outbursts of, “What the fuck is going on here?” But, thanks to Furst, who was always a pleasure to watch in everything he appeared in, the comedy, while almost consistently out of place, is still very funny. The mash-up of action, horror, science fiction, and comedy is like filling a giant burlap sack with pots and pans and then smashing the full bag against a stone wall. It's almost painful at the beginning, but it all starts melting together with your brain and you end up with a beautiful mess that you wouldn't mind sitting through again and, in fact, becomes one of those movies you tell people, “You gotta see this!”


  1. Silent Rage is definitely a weird film. Seeing it on the big screen at the Mahoning Drive-In last year made it more enjoyable than it otherwise would have been on a television. The comedy sections are very awkward. The barroom scene especially comes to mind. Chuck Norris' lack of screen presence also lessened my enthusiasm for the film. Still, I understand why Silent Rage has its fans.

  2. I first saw "Silent Rage" on TV in El Salvador in the mid-80's. Seen it several times since on cable, VHS, DVD, streaming... and it's always an enjoyable watch because the movie has no business being as entertaining, compelling and weirdly enjoyable given its disparate elements. It has to the 1982 umbrella of quality that surrounded most movies released that year casting its tall shadow on this one, which could have easily slipped into forgettable Chuck Norris star vehicles ("Good Guys Wear Black," etc.) instead of being a standout.

    Ron Silver cast-against-type as a mad scientist's assistant (Steven Keats' pencil-thin stache constantly swirls!) contrasts with Stephen Furst's Charlie being an innocent (his last scene never fails to movie me) paired with Chuck Norris' stock silent hero role. Brian Libby's then-weird physique really makes his relentless serial killer feel like an out-of-control mutant, but then an old kick/punch/gunshot/explosion sound effect from the 1970's brings you back to low-budget reality. One of the few movies that end with a sequel-ready cliffhanger (which closely mirrors the end-before-the-end finale of "Halloween 4") that I so wish had yielded a follow-up. "Silent Rage" is one hell of a Junesploitation! all-star, all-you-can-eat buffet. :-)

    1. Undoubtedly a good Junesploitation title just for the mash-up of genres, J.M. I saw it the same night as 10 To Midnight, one of Cannon's finest sleaze fests. The satisfaction I got from that one colors my experience with Silent Rage.

    2. New-to-you "Silent Rage" AND "10 to Midnight" on the big screen the same night? Jealous! :-D