Face-Off: Silent Rage vs. Hero and the Terror

Last week it was announced that the 1982 Chuck Norris film SILENT RAGE will be coming to Blu-ray courtesy of Mill Creek Entertainment, and that announcement instantly caught my attention because SILENT RAGE had quite an impact on my childhood. As a fan of both horror and martial arts movies, I loved watching Norris take on a slasher, and so I kept watching that movie, over and over again. SILENT RAGE wasn't the only time Norris ventured into psycho killer territory, though. He did it again six years later in HERO AND THE TERROR, which was released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber in 2015 (you can purchase a copy HERE) and is another movie that I first watched as a child. SILENT RAGE gets more attention, but I've always felt that HERO AND THE TERROR deserved more recognition, so this week I decided to put the two against each other and see what happens when Norris faces off with Norris.
None of the most famous horror icons creeped me out when I was a kid, but Brian Libby's John Kirby did. From the moment he's introduced, suffering a mental breakdown that drives him to take an axe to the people he's staying with, his intense strangeness had me feeling disturbed. A maniac capable of snapping handcuffs with brute strength, he was tough to stop even before a pair of genetic engineers inject him with a formula that gifts him with a healing factor to rival Wolverine's. This nightmarish walking science experiment becomes like a mask-less Michael Myers as he silently stalks around in his silver jumpsuit, knocking off anyone who gets in his way.
The Terror of the title is Simon Moon (Jack O'Halloran), a killer whose motives are never explained - he simply enjoys breaking women's necks and keeping their corpses around. Moon doesn't communicate, but he's clearly intelligent, even figuring out how to saw through metal bars with dental floss. After escaping from prison, Moon hides in a classic theatre that is being renovated, occasionally sneaking through an access panel in the ladies restroom so he can snatch a new victim to add to his collection of corpses. He sounds much more interesting than he actually is - Moon is a good villain in theory, but he's rather lackluster on screen.
Sheriff of a small Texas town, Dan Stevens is your typical "man of few words" hero, retaining a calm and cool demeanor regardless of what situation he's in. He has no reaction to getting slapped by a love interest and wins her back with ease. He'll listen to the most terrible stories with a smirk on his face. His heart rate probably doesn't even increase when he's faced with a violent adversary, he just beats them down like it's nothing. John Kirby is tougher than most of the men he meets, but it takes more than an indestructible killer to rattle Dan Stevens.
Los Angeles police officer Danny O'Brien has a lot on his plate. He gained notoriety for apprehending serial killer Simon "The Terror" Moon, but he rejects being branded a hero because he only survived his encounter with Moon thanks to a lucky accident. Tormented by nightmares about Moon, he has fallen in love with his therapist and is ready to start raising a family with her. But now Moon is loose, killing more women, and O'Brien will have to face his fears to bring the killer to justice again. O'Brien is a character with layers, giving Norris some drama to work with.
ANIMAL HOUSE's Stephen Furst plays dim-witted Deputy Charlie, who will fall in love with any woman who shows him her breasts and should never be allowed anywhere near a pet. The story he tells about the dog he had as a child may be even more disturbing than John Kirby. Charlie is here for comedy relief that doesn't really work for me, but he is a good-hearted guy who means well.
O'Brien isn't one to call for backup, but he does work with plenty of other officers over the course of the film, the most prominent of them played by the awesome Steve James of AMERICAN NINJA, an actor we lost way too soon. James isn't given a lot to do, but he's always a welcome presence and has a memorable encounter with The Terror. If only they would have let him put up a fight.
Alison (Toni Kalem) has a tough time figuring out what she wants. When she first sees her ex Dan Stevens, she slaps him and acts like their time together didn't mean much. Soon she's agreeing to give him a ride and ends up back in his bed - but she says it meant nothing. The next day she reiterates that they shouldn't see each other again. Hours later, she's ready to dive back into the relationship. As soon as that's settled, she catches the attention of John Kirby. Finally, something to take her mind off the questions of "Should I or shouldn't I?"
Indecisive women are drawn to Chuck Norris, or vice versa. Pregnant with O'Brien's child, Kay (Brynn Thayer) had a tough time agreeing to move in with him and still can't deal with his marriage proposal. The hormones are having their way with Kay, and you have to feel sympathy for her when she breaks down over feeling insecure, uncomfortable, and old on her 36th birthday. The Kay plot is almost entirely separate from the Terror story, she's not a damsel in distress, but she's an interesting character who adds to the film in her own way.
When a biker gang rolls into Stevens' town, wreaking havoc and openly mocking the police, you know there's going to be some hard-hitting retribution. Stevens tells the gang to get out of town and when they don't comply he takes on the whole bunch in a classic bar brawl. It takes less than three minutes for him to knock out a dozen or more guys. Faces are punched, asses kicked, testicles brutalized, and property damaged.
The best moment of O'Brien taking down a criminal other than Moon is when he nonchalantly clotheslines a purse snatcher. There is a bigger action scene when a drug bust goes south, resulting in a shootout that goes by too quickly, a foot chase, and a one-on-one fight between Norris and Branscombe Richmond. It's cool to watch these two duke it out, but it doesn't match up to the biker scene in SILENT RAGE.
When the dust settles and the killers are defeated, we end up with the result that may seem most appropriate: the more popular film has come out the victor. This was a very close competition, though, and the deciding category was the one focused on Norris himself. That category easily could have gone to Danny O'Brien, the character with more depth, the one which demanded more acting from Norris... But I have to admit that I find the less complicated Dan Stevens to be more enjoyable to watch in action, so he took the win in that category and SILENT RAGE beat HERO AND THE TERROR.

Have you seen both SILENT RAGE and HERO AND THE TERROR? If so, share your thoughts on these films in the comments section below. Are you a Chuck Norris fan? Let us know what your favorite Norris films and characters are. If you have suggestions for future Face-Off pairings, you can send me an e-mail at [email protected].



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