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‘Unleashed’ – The Neo-Exploitation of the 2005 Martial Arts Thriller Starring Jet Li

The slasher and the actioner seem like two disparate types of movies, however, both often feature a high degree of suspense, lengthy chases, and a lot of death. A slasher villain will hunt down hapless victims, whereas an action hero may go after one enemy or a whole group of them. Grisly kills and an assortment of weapons are also to be expected.

Now, there are some action movies that infuse more slasher elements than others. Classics like The Terminator and Predator are unmistakably modeled after slashers, but they’re not the only ones. Others take on the traits of slashers more than their peers, ultimately creating a more unique viewing experience.

The following ten lesser seen movies give action and slasher fans the best of both worlds.

Silent Rage (1982)


The first of two Chuck Norris vehicles here is is the fan-favorite Silent Rage. In Michael Miller‘s actioner, a captured killer (Brian Libby) is revived using an experimental serum. He comes back to life, but now he possesses superhuman strength. The homicidal escapee is then tracked down by Norris’ character, the local sheriff. This sci-fi/action hybrid could use more action, yet the horror equivalences are plentiful.

Silent Rage is currently streaming on Tubi and is available on Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Entertainment.

10 to Midnight (1983)


The police or other law-enforcement agents are routinely the protagonist in action movies. And no other actor quite fills the part of “tough cop” better than Charles Bronson. The Death Wish actor may be a man of the shield this time around in J. Lee Thompson‘s 10 to Midnight, but this copper acts more like a vigilante when the story’s villain comes after his daughter (Lisa Eilbacher). Bronson plays a detective who will do whatever it takes to put away a killer (Gene Davis), even if that means breaking the law. The audience is, of course, on Bronson’s side because, one, the judicial system is a mess, and two, Davis’ character is as guilty as he is naked whenever he murders one of his victims. The conclusion is where the movie gets incredibly slashery; the antagonist brutally picks off random women until he can get to the one he really craves. 10 to Midnight is a cult classic with great characters and performances, as well as one of the most memorable killers in either action or slasher movies.

10 to Midnight is currently streaming on Tubi and is available on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory.

The Zero Boys (1986)


It’s arguable that Nico Mastorakis‘ The Zero Boys is already a horror movie, but unlike other slashers coming out during the ’80s, it was more action oriented than scary. A young paintball team’s victory celebration out in the woods is spoiled when the crew is targeted by unseen enemies. As the heroes trek through the dark and eerie woods, they use their paintball skills to help them survive their bizarre ordeal. There’s a noticeable clashing of tones in The Zero Boys, and while it can never quite figure itself out, there is no denying the entertainment value of this movie.

The Zero Boys is currently streaming on Tubi and is available on Blu-ray from Arrow Video.

Hero and the Terror (1988)


The other Chuck Norris movie here is William Tannen‘s Hero and the Terror, which is similar to Silent Rage. Here Norris, again playing a cop, comes up against a seemingly unstoppable opponent. Based on Michael Blodgett’s novel of the same name, this movie is more character-driven than the previous Norris joint. The main character is haunted by the eponymous killer’s last crime spree, and he’s on even higher alert now that his girlfriend is pregnant and random women have gone missing. Once The Terror resumes business, Norris finds closure and makes the world a bit safer.

Hero and the Terror is currently streaming on Tubi and is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.

Bloodmoon (1997)

Real-life martial artist Gary Daniels made the jump to film in the late ’80s, and he became a familiar face in the ’90s for his multiple direct-to-video action movies. One of his better projects was Bloodmoon, which shouldn’t be confused with the Australian slasher of the same name. Here Daniels isn’t a cop but rather an expert on serial killers who also just happens to be an expert fighter. The mindhunter is the only one who can now stop the masked murderer targeting sports champions. This high-octane and well-choreographed movie excels in the action department due to its talented director, Siu-Hung Leung.

Bloodmoon is available on DVD from Fox Lorber and Genius Products.

Banshee (2006)


No doubt Banshee was inspired by the success of the Fast & Furious franchise and other car-related action movies. To make this story a bit more unique, Taryn Manning‘s character is pitted against a serial killer. Manning is a crafty car theft who boosts the wrong wheels one night; her mistake puts everyone she knows at risk when the owner seeks bloody revenge. Helping Manning’s scrappy character is a bumbling himbo cop played by Michael Lombardi. Manning performs her own stunts and sings on the soundtrack in this made-for-TV actioner from Kari Skogland (Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier).

Banshee is currently streaming on Vudu and is available on DVD from Image Entertainment.

Slice (2009)

A mysterious killer is roaming the streets of Thailand in Kongkiat “Khom” Khomsiri‘s movie Slice. The cops are totally clueless as more and more body parts are discovered in random places. Only one cop (Arak Amornsupasiri) is destined to find the culprit, but the journey getting there won’t be easy. Slice is a stylish, shocking and gory crime story. The slasher element is broken up and scattered about, but the third act is where it comes out in full force.

Slice is currently streaming on AsianCrush.

Tower Block (2012)

Tower block

Residents in a low-income apartment building are picked off, one by one, by a ruthless and unknown sharpshooter in Tower Block. This thriller is drained of color to match its dreary demeanor, and the characters are unpleasant and thinly written. Yet, it’s never a dull watch. Admittedly James Nunn and Ronnie Thompson‘s movie sticks out from other selections here; there is no apparent procedural element, specifically a detective hot on the killer’s trail. The action instead comes from these neighbors and acquaintances physically trying — and failing — to escape a hopeless situation.

Tower Block is currently streaming on Tubi and is available on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory.

Cold Hell (2017)

Cold Hell

The German-Austrian nailbiter Cold Hell is more a modern giallo than a slasher, seeing as choice artistic moments are likened to something out of Dario Argento’s oeuvre. Stefan Ruzowitzky delivers a complete thrill-ride where the Hitchcockian setup is ultimately turned into a vicious cat-and-mouse game that shows off Violetta Schurawlow‘s talent. This frantic movie’s lead’s character, a Turkish taxi driver staying in Vienna, is in the wrong place at the wrong time; she witnesses a murder as well as catches the full attention of the perpetrator. 

Cold Hell is currently streaming on Shudder.

Black Site (2022)

In Sophia Banks‘ feature-length debut, a dangerous inmate (Jason Clarke) escapes his confines in a top-secret prison. The guards, including Michelle Monaghan‘s character, track the escapee down, but not without casualties. Clarke’s character, who is known as Hatchet, begins to systematically kill his captors. While this thriller is weighed down by anemic writing and characters, it’s saved by the surprising slasher factor as well as the action sequences.

Black Site is available at digital retailers, and is on Blu-ray/DVD from Vertical Entertainment.