Silent Rage

Usually, when there’s a gruff sheriff in town, he’s doin’ battle against cattle rustlers, restless natives, or rounding up a posse to exact revenge on stagecoach bandits. In Silent Rage, Chuck Norris (Sheriff Dan) seems to have wandered off the set of a Rory Calhoun movie and into a world of Re-Animator/The Brain that Wouldn’t Die.

Mental patient John Kirby is in standoff with police after axe-murdering his landlady. He’s pumped full of head and taken to a hospital, where twisted attending physicians fill his veins with an experimental serum, bringing him back from death’s door. Unfortunately for all concerned, a revivified Kirby is back to his evil ways, a near-unstoppable killing machine terrorizing Texas townsfolk. When will these weird syringe experimental serum developers ever learn their lesson?

Sheriff Dan, alongside reluctant and doughy Deputy Charlie (Stephen Furst of Animal House) team up to track down the psycho and take him out more permanently.

To pad the run-time, a noticeably relaxed Norris, hot on the heels of playing a Frisco narcotics cop (An Eye for an Eye) has to fight off dirtnik bikers who assail him in the local diner for ordering “hot tea.” He makes quick work of the 1%ers, with a bar biker beat-down worthy of A Bronx Tale. All the while, he’s reconciling with an ex (that staple of action films), romancing the paramour with whom he’d parted ways six years earlier (such is the allure of Chuck Norris, especially in protracted and extremely odd lovemaking hammock montages).

If you hadn’t already guessed, Silent Rage is a movie that doesn’t know what the heck it wants to be: biker exploitation or stalk-n-slash horror, as a near-dead antagonist is depleting the population of this already-small Texas burg.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. Chuck, the human meme-generator, is not one to be trifled with. And here, the fists and the feet fly, albeit not enough.

*** (out of 5)

[Check out our podcast discussion of Silent Rage on the Really Awful Movies Podcast]

Cellar Dweller

We all know that in horror, it’s best not to go in the basement. But don’t take our word for it, there’s a movie called Don’t Go in the Basement (it’s also got the more descriptive title, The Forgotten, which it’s largely been). Cellar Dweller hopes we heed the basement advice as well.

For the horror rhyming enthusiast in your life, it’d be good to recommend Cellar Dweller after they’re finished with Jack’s Back, The Driller Killer, and Fright Night.

A straight-to-video obscurity from the late 80s, Cellar Dweller is a film that invests a bunch in its practical effects, at the expense of everything else.

Set in an arts retreat (dubbed “a colony” by its matriarch, Mrs Briggs) Cellar Dweller focuses on the doin’s of a bunch of artist-types, each with their own specialty: Whitney the budding illustrator, Amanda the visual/new media artist, Norman and Lisa the method-actors, and Brian, the abstract expressionist who’s abstractions aren’t too expressive (he has a sparse-looking bovine watercolor that he’s dubbed “Angst.”)

They’ve each been instructed not to go in the basement. But we all know that that won’t happen, right?

In the film’s prologue, graphic artist Colin Childress (played with nerd-verve by everyone’s favorite 80s gore-geek Jeffrey Combs) is illustrating a beastly creature in his subterranean studio. His art springs off the page, and literally comes to life, attacking him.

Fast forward 30 years and Childress’ lore lives on, even when the artist does not.

So what lurketh beneath in that basement?

In a very spare 77 minutes, you’ll find out.

Directed by John Carl Buechler, who most of you will know from Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (first appearance by Kane Hodder as the man behind the mask), this one whips by fairly quickly and falls into the category of solid time-waster.

**3/4 (out of 5)