Jarv’s Schlock Vault: Split Second
“Are you telling me there’s something running around loose in the city, ripping out people’s hearts and eating them so he can take their souls back to hell?”
Jarv’s Rating: 3 and a half Changs out of 4.
This sounds like a silly thing to say about an obvious piece of schlock, but I actually toyed with doing this one for the underrated series. This is a criminally and disgracefully neglected film that is totally overdue rehabilitation. Admittedly it is madder than a box of frogs, stupider than a rock, and has a completely over the top sensibility, but still, damn it, this is a fucking monster of a film.
Split Second is something that I recommend that everyone sees- it’s that fucking good, so beware of spoilers- but because I love you all I’m going to put them in invisitext. If you want to see this unspoiled (recommended) don’t read them. Otherwise, don’t come crying to me.
I first remember seeing this film on it’s VHS release in 1993. Back then I was young and unschooled in schlock-fu but even taking that into account, this film blew my tiny adolescent mind. I hadn’t seen it again until recently, and was, therefore, trepiditious that it may now suck the sweat of a dead man’s ass crack. You know how it is, a film you saw when you were young that simply rocked does not, as a rule, stand up to viewing years later. Nonetheless, I am ecstatic to report that not only does it still hold up, but if anything in this age of crappy CGI ruling all, I found new things to enjoy in it.
The year is 2008, and the doomsday predictions of global warming have come true. America has backed out of the recent climate control talks (ha!) which were being pursued by nations such as the UK due to the devastating effects of global warming. London is now partially submerged as a direct result.
Rutger Hauer plays the magnificently monikered Harley Stone. He’s a cop who lives on a combination of paranoia, chocolate, coffee and ginormous fucking cigars. He’s got a shorter fuse than the stick of dynamite that Wile E Coyote inevitably ends up holding and a nastier temper than a pit bull with a hangover. Stone is on the trail of his partner’s killer with whom he shares a bizarre psychic bond.
This film is superb. The script is one of the last true 1980’s style macho expletive laden beasts. The characters have all got outrageous names (Rutger’s new partner is called “Dick Durkin”) and the dialogue is the far side of hilarious. Rutger in particular gets so many lines that can only be described as completely badass that I struggle to keep count- but off the top of my head, this is the only film I can think of where a character calls an angry rottweiler “dickhead”.
This is very much Rutger’s show, but don’t ignore the supporting cast here- there’s Pete Postlethwaite as Rutger’s enemy in the department, Alun Armstrong as “Thrasher” (no, I’m not joking), and a host of other recognisable faces, all of who are having fun. The one actor, though, that I really want to single out is Alastair Duncan as Durkin, and it’s a real shame that we’ve not seen more of him, although he has done a lot of voice over work. Even Kim Cattrall is cool in this, mind you- this was long before Sex and the City. She does get her tits out (as is to be expected) but, unusually for her they don’t hit the floor.
The special effects, especially the creature effects, are all serviceable examples of practical work. The monster himself may be a man in suit, but he’s a damned effective man in suit that they hide in blue lighting or underwater.
Split Second is a film clearly influenced by Blade Runner. It’s aesthetically very similar, and the score reminds me somewhat of Vangelis’ work, but nonetheless, it manages to be different enough from Scott’s masterpiece that it can be said to be influenced by without being a copy. The aesthetic and the blue lighting really suit the film, as there’s a palpable sense of dampness to dystopian London that complements the story perfectly.
And now, 5 reasons why this is a 4 chang film and also my reason for withholding that rating. I’m not being picky- it is a severe irritant- but the flaw isn’t enough to sink the film.
5. This film has the outrageous sequence after Durkin’s first encounter with the monster where he’s completely incapable of saying anything but “We need bigger fucking guns. Really fucking big fucking guns”. Procuring suitably large armaments proves to be comic gold.
4. The aforementioned face off with the Rottweiler- before, during and after a particularly messy kill
3. Durkin is an ubernerd AICN type that repeatedly talks about his “hobbies” such as comic books, but then in the next breath refers to his imaginary incredibly hot girlfriend and the amount of sex he’s having. We’ve all seen him post in fatland.
2. The monster itself is a savage fucking beast with a truly bizarre MO. The cod science to explain his origins is absolutely priceless. He’s “psychotic with psychopathic tendencies” and may or may not be Satan. Even though he certainly thinks he is.
1. This film is amazingly badass. Cigars are smoked, insults are thrown around, there’s gunplay galore, messy murders, and a completely over the top fight between Rutger and the rat monster.
This is why the film loses half a chang:
Firstly, there are plot holes galore (but I don’t care about this). However, more importantly
This is not a dealbreaker- I have to assure you- but it is enough to deny the film a perfect score. What a shame.
Overall, would I recommend it? This is a completely redundant question in this case, as it should be pretty obvious that I do. Get some beer, get this film and enjoy one of the last old school action films from the period. Split Second is more fun than a nudist bouncy castle and quite simply one of the finest schlock films of the last 20 years, and they left it open for a sequel that someone should make immediately.
In the immortal words of Harley Stone: “Hallelujah”.
Until next time,