Science Created him. Now Chuck Norris must destroy him.
I was initially jazzed to see that the director, Michael Miller, had a couple of exploitation flicks under his belt before he made Silent Rage. Street Girls (1975), was a spiritual predecessor to Paul Schrader's Hardcore (1979) that Miller co-wrote with Barry Levinson of all people; and Jackson County Jail (1976), was a jailhouse rape drama that I recently added to my collection. Not a bad resume up until that point.
I was quickly anti-jazzed to see that after Silent Rage, Miller made a string of 20+ made for TV movies including a bunch of Danielle Steel adaptations with such romantic leading men as Robert Urich, John Ritter, Patrick Duffy, and Bruce Dern. Ugh. This movie was obviously a game changer in Miller's career.
|A Danielle Steel fantasy moment.|
This film suffers greatly from aesthetic fatigue as Miller pulls heavily from other genre directors. The beginning of the film opens with a hand held shot from the killer's point of view. Now this technique has been used to great effect by such masters as John Carpenter (clown mask opening to Halloween) or Brian de Palma (sorority killer opening to Blow Out) but Miller's camera keeps jumping from first person to third person serving only to break the suspense and confuse us. He reprises this POV gem two more times to little effect. Later in the film, Chuck's love interest (played by a decidedly un-sexy Toni Kalem) is subjected to the standard parade of corpse discovery, one after the other, that so many scream queens before her have walked. I hate to say it, but some of the best shot scenes in the film are the love montages. You can literally see Miller gearing up for his future fornications with Danielle Steel.
The story is basically the Frankenstein cautionary tale with some round house kicks thrown in to spice things up a little. That in itself would seem to have merit if it was done with a little imagination. The team of mad doctors for instance are stereotypical and tired. The lead researcher is a modern day Victor Frankenstein, obsessed with the promise of his work. He has an ugly assistant. They refine their formula in a laughable laboratory that Roger Corman would be proud of, complete with dry ice meaningless oscilloscopes and green fill lighting. Ron Silver plays the lone dissenter on the team. He perpetually whines about the moral implications of their actions but is too much of a pussy to do anything about it. The Monster (a.k.a the mental patient) that was supposed to represent a warning message to society, ends up being well, just a violent psycho.
Chuck is Chuck in this movie. He is always awesome and pulls out some of his best acting manoeuvres to try and save this train wreck. He showcases his crotch as much as possible, hits on Toni Kalem by sticking his finger in her ear, boot-rapes some disrespectful bikers, and spends at least 30 minutes of the film wearing nothing but his Wranglers. When his pathetic deputy, played to perfection by fat funny man Stephen Furst, expires in the sheriff's arms, you can watch Chuck's thoughts change from grief to determined rage.
The last 15 minutes of the film were fairly exciting. Chuck tosses the maniac out of a thirty story building, runs him over with a truck, drags him behind said truck, and lights him on fire. The film ends with the heroic sheriff performing a perfect flying side kick and judo-flipping the maniac into an abandoned well shaft. If there was more of this in the film it would have been wicked. (Reviewed by Zoltan)
Movie Rating 2/5