Saturday, February 28, 2015

Strangely obsessed with Split Second's killer.

I must be the only dumb nut who cares about this, but I can't help trying to figure out just what the fuck is going on with the heavy in Split Second. Design-wise, it's simply a crappy knockoff of Giger's Alien with a motorcycle visor built into its head, but was this thing human once or is it a shape-shifter? The reason I ask is because it writes "I'm back" in blood on a bathroom mirror, mails a half-eaten heart to the main character, uses guns, knows astrology well enough to paint the Scorpio symbol in blood on a ceiling, etc. I guess you could argue it didn't use the post office but rather dropped off the package at the police station; however, I have a hard time figuring out how no one would notice a 10-foot-tall black demon playing delivery boy. There are so many odd details about it in the movie. I forgot how much Durkin and Stone discuss it. We learn this serial killer only murders on high tides, and Scorpio is a water symbol. Charles Manson was a Scorpio and Stone is a Scorpio. Durkin thinks Stone and the killer are on the same psychic wavelength, which explains why Stone knows when the killer is about to strike or what time it killed the second victim. Does any of this add up to anything? No, not really. I mean why the high tide new moon babble? But it makes me curious what the hell they were thinking.

The writer must have had some reason behind it all, right? The killer is always taunting Stone like when it leaves his partner's gun at a new crime scene. It also draws an inverted triangle inside a circle on the ceiling, which Durkin informs us is "occult," and Stone says that the killer never did that before. The fact this is a new development in the killer's ritual suggests a change. Durkin questions if the baddie stood on the bed to paint it, causing Stone to ironically note the guy should be easy to spot since he'd have to be 10 feet tall. Now we found out before that the serial killer had disappeared for a while since they talk about this at the beginning of the film. 3 years ago it murdered Stone's partner and vanished sometime after that. So all this could mean the killer was human before it took its sweet little vaca and then somehow transformed into a creature after via occult methods, which is why it drew such a symbol after reappearing (or maybe it changed after killing the first girl we see, and that could justify how no one noticed it at the club). But that theory collapses in on itself thanks to the black-and-white flashback of Stone's partner being killed in which we see the killer is clearly not human even back then. Side note: I love how after his flashback, Stone is magically wearing a shirt with one cutoff arm sleeve (how convenient) to reveal the awful scars left by the beast. I guess that is the exact same shirt he wore 3 years ago... why would he keep that shirt and keep wearing it? Rather odd but Stone is eccentric to say the least so maybe I can buy it.


The transforming theory has no evidence in the film to support it aside from the problem of why no one ever sees the monster aside from the club owner's dog and a little girl (why the girl isn't insanely terrified perplexes me since she seems to be smiling). Obviously, the real idea there was the creature was intended to be so fast you couldn't ever see it; hence, the title, the air blowing Stone's hair in the flashback as the killer races by (he should've known back then it wasn't human because of the fuckin gigantic claw marks it left on his arm but maybe he suppressed the memory), other people not seeing it, his girlfriend not even getting a glimpse of it when it bites her, etc. The problem with that is the way it's portrayed in the film since we can clearly see the thing charging out of a woman's apartment at one point although to be fair, they do show it very briefly, and it literally explodes out of a wall when it runs off. Still, that can't explain everything. So it roadrunners into the police station to deliver the heart? It would've had to rip through walls or security doors but you see no evidence of that. I can't fathom UPS accepting a package from a customer like that, and how would it pay for the service? People would still feel the wind of the thing rushing by, and it'd still make a sound.

It's kind of a cool idea for a killer although I think Predator had a much better explanation for why people couldn't see the monster. Inhuman speed seems a little lame next to technology-advanced camouflage, but the forensic results on the police-station delivery of the heart are quite interesting. Fingerprints of Stone's dead partner and traces of the rat virus that causes Weil's disease. Then Durkin brings a report to the chief on the genetic fingerprints (yes, apparently, this is a different fingerprint report), stating that the killer has the DNA structure of all its victims. It has rat DNA (I guess it ate some rats? why would it do that?) and Stone's DNA (is this from scratching him?). Durkin later rants that the creature is "like the sum total of every serial killer" he studied as if someone rolled every serial killer into "one incredible being." Again, you have another pretty awesome idea there, but the movie doesn't really deliver on that. Who or what was this thing to begin with?


Durkin then explains the 25 78 refers to the Chinese zodiac and how they're in the year of the rat. Then he goes on about how the inverted triangle not only represents evil but also water and the circle is a symbol of magic and power so everything inside the circle is protected from what's outside. Scorpio is the sign most susceptible to the powers of darkness, and to a Scorpio, the idea of being joined to a supernatural being is of the utmost importance. He then declares the most powerful supernatural being to be Satan. All of this seems to imply the killer was a man who wanted to become supernatural, but a lot of it seems half-baked. I mean why the year of the rat thing? Just because it has rat DNA and ate rats or something? Durkin goes on about how it must believe by eating its victims, it's not only ingesting their DNA but also their souls. Then maybe it wants to take the souls back to hell. So it wants to take rat souls or it just got super hungry? I think it could pretty much pick anything it wants to eat so why rats? I do like how there are bigger mutant rats in this future apparently, judging by the pretty damn big one Stone blows away.

After Durkin gets the inverted triangle Scorpio circle symbol carved into his chest, Stone suggests maybe the meaning doesn't matter. Maybe it's just a map. So then all that Scorpio bullshit before was filler? Or they want to have their cake and eat it too? Well, you can read into that Scorpio crap if you like, but otherwise, whatever. This movie is definitely a little bit of a mess. Durkin mutters some more about the killer completing its circle geometrically speaking if it murders Stone at that spot. It seems like they didn't really know what to do with the killer so they threw a bunch of stuff together and don't flesh it out much. Hell, by the end, it all boils down to a stupid oversimplification: the monster is just Satan. Nice way to dumb it down. That's horribly weak. Why did the killer take a 3-year break then? Satan needed some time off or what?

Still, I have an odd affection for this movie. It's really not very good, but I like Rutger Hauer so much and his interplay with Neil Duncan as Detective Dick Durkin is hilarious ("We need some big fuckin guns!"). Dick's arc is awesome. After seeing the killer and shooting it but not being able to kill it, he pretty much freaks out and becomes more and more like Stone. Plus, you get Pete Postlethwaite from Alien 3, a nude goth Kim Cattrall, and Alun Armstrong doing a great job as the cliche hardass chief. True, all the kills are off screen, and the bad guy doesn't make much sense, but the atmosphere is pretty well done, I like the flooded locations, there are some interesting ideas, some funny lines, etc. You can't take it too seriously obviously, and it seems like everyone involved knew that too since there are some clever self-referential jokes.


The setup and everything reminded me of Predator 2, which came out 2 years earlier than this one, but Predator 2 is really not a buddy cop movie whereas this one uses that formula: reckless cop gets new by-the-book partner against his will, they both hate each other at the start, then become good friends, etc. Danny Glover's Harrigan didn't get a new partner. He is a loose cannon with an asshole chief, but he gets along very well with his partner.

I'm curious what happened behind the scenes on Split Second since Tony Maylam is credited as the director, but in the actual end credits of the movie, the first name that comes onscreen belongs to Ian Sharp for directing the "Subway Train & Additional Sequences." Does that mean the other guy got fired or they didn't like what he delivered so they shot new material to spice it up with more action? Interestingly, there are apparently a lot of deleted scenes in a TV version (it's 6 minutes longer according to IMDb). The movie was shot in eight weeks, which actually isn't that short. A lot of films are only shot in a month or less (20 days for John Carpenter's Halloween), and this one had two months, but the pre-production was quite short (only 21 days) so that could explain some of the story issues or there was some post tinkering. I wish someone would do a making-of documentary on it, but I guess the odds are slim on getting that.

Still, I think it's a pretty fun movie worth watching. It isn't anywhere near the brilliance of Alien, Predator, Blade Runner, etc. but it's a guilty pleasure of mine, and I love the original poster. The monster standing behind Stone with the big gun. BFG to the rescue.

4 comments:

  1. It was a good film, lots of weird action... thank you for the solid memories... now somewhere I have the score/soundtrack...

    Jeremy

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  2. I saw this movie once, about 20 years ago. My dad had recorded it from Danish television (we lived near the Swedish coast and they had better movies as a rule), but being VHS and an overseas signal it was dark, grainy and missing the first 15 minutes or so.

    I was just getting into Marvel comics at the time, and my favourite character was Venom. I think that's one of the reasons this movie made such a big impression on me.

    I've been looking for it for the last ten years and just ordered it, so needless to say I'm deeply grateful for finding it through your review =D

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    Replies
    1. Glad to help! I'm also a huge fan of Venom.

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  3. Amazing movie, i remember when I was child.

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