Best Horror Movie You Never Saw: Silent Rage (1982)

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

Welcome to Arrow in the Head's The Best Horror Movie You Never Saw, which will be dedicated to highlighting horror films that, for one reason or another, don't get as much love as we think they should. We know plenty of you horror hounds out there will have seen many of the movies we pick, but there will be plenty of you who have not. This column is for all of you!

This week we take a look at Michael Miller's action-horror joint SILENT RAGE (WATCH IT HERE / OWN IT HERE) starring Chuck Norris, Ron Silver, Steven Keats, Brian Libby, William Finley and Toni Kalem!

THE PLOT: Mentally disturbed John Kirby is killed after he himself murders a pair of individuals on one blood-soaked night. An ambitious doctor decides to try out a new drug on him that will bring him back to life. Good idea, right? The drug works and John Kirby is now a Frankenstein's Monster, roaming the streets of a small Texas town and going back to his old ways. The only person who can stop him is Sheriff Dan Stevens (Chuck Norris), who has a connection to the madman: he's the one who killed him in the first place.

THE BACKSTORY: The film was evidently written with Chuck Norris in mind; it was an attempt to broaden his audience. The film was made by Columbia Pictures, and everyone wanted to do it because it was a big studio picture. Director Michael Miller had a "Frankenstein movie" in mind while making it, even though it was obviously made during the slasher movie boom of the early 80s. Miller thought they would make at least one sequel to the film, but obviously – sadly! – that never panned out.

WHY IT'S GREAT: You won't find a much stranger hybrid of genres than SILENT RAGE, but that's what's so fun about it. Somehow it just works. A mixture of Chuck Norris kung fu flick and Frankenstein's monster horror movie, you're never quite sure what's coming around the corner with this one. One minute you're watching Chuck romance his on-again/off-again girlfriend, the next you're watching a psycho stalk unwitting victims in a house, the next Chuck is being Chuck at a honky tonk bar, beating up a gang of bikers. As a kid, I ate this up, not realizing how odd of a movie it was. Many years later, it holds up as a lean, mean thriller, admittedly with a few silly tangents along the way.

The opening sequence is really terrific and criminally underappreciated. A prolonged introduction to the deranged mind of John Kirby (chillingly played by Brian Libby) as he snaps and kills members of a family with an axe, all depicted in a creepily quiet long take. Even when Chuck finally shows up to save the day (or salvage the rest of it), there's almost no dialogue between him and the killer; we know pretty quickly that this isn't your average Chuck Norris vehicle. (Although the presence of his trusty deputy Charlie, played for laughs by Stephen Furst, keeps the mood a little light.) In fact, it's almost more of an ensemble piece, as we end up spending almost as much time with a trio of doctors than with Chuck. Docs Halman (Ron Silver), Spires (Steven Keats) and Vaughn (William Finley) are the ones who have the bright idea to try out a new drug on Kirby, bringing him back to life and making him more or less indestructible. Maybe not the best person to attempt such a thing on, but such is the nature of movies. We spend a surprising amount of time with Halman (thankfully, Silver does not phone in his role), who is, to his credit, the most practical of the group, and his fate is one of the more shocking aspects of Silent Rage. 

Chuck's star wattage is on full display throughout; at risk of sounding like the old bastard that I am, but they don't make them like this guy anymore. Chuck movies aren't for everyone, but no one can deny this man's charisma. His Sheriff Dan is pretty much the quintessential small town hero, likable and friendly, but ready to kick ass when the moment calls for it. This is Chuck at his best, and I dare say this is his best movie – I'm sure there might be some blowback on that, but for me it's a no-brainer.

Sneakily, Silent Rage is a rather well-directed film; not nearly as mindless as one might expect based on the synopsis. Miller displays considrable skill during the suspense sequences, which bring to mind the first two Halloween films. If you're thinking this is just going to be some goof without any real drama, think again. 

BEST SCENE: That opening sequence is really good, but if I'm speaking to the fans who like nothing more than an old fashioned Chuck Norris movie, the scene where he takes on about a dozen bikers will scratch your itch.

WHERE TO WATCH: Silent Rage is available to stream on Tubi, Vudu, Amazon, YouTube, Google Play – the works. It's also available in a pretty cool retro style Blu-Ray; check it out HERE.

PARTING SHOT: Want to see Chuck Norris kick some butt while also being immersed in an engaging psychological thriller about an unstoppable maniac? I bet you do! 

Source: Arrow in the Head

About the Author

Eric Walkuski is a longtime writer, critic, and reporter for He's been a contributor for over 15 years, having written dozens of reviews and hundreds of news articles for the site. In addition, he's conducted almost 100 interviews as JoBlo's New York correspondent.