Friday, May 1, 2020

Summer '92 Redux - May, 1 1992: SPLIT SECOND

by Adam Riske and Patrick Bromley
A new series where Patrick and Adam Riske relive the Summer Movie Season of 1992.

Adam: Welcome to Summer ‘92 Redux! I was feeling bummed that we’re not going to have much (if any) of a Summer Movie Season this year, so why not go back in time and relive a previous one? Why Summer 1992? Because it’s an interesting summer with fewer blockbusters, but a lot of memorable films. Also, it’s a summer where I have some viewing gaps, and this will give me a reason to catch up on a few movies and revisit many others. It helps as well that the release calendar for 2020 matches with 1992. Joining me on this quest for the next four months is Patrick Bromley!

The series kicks off modestly with the May 1, 1992 release of Split Second, a Sci-Fi/Horror/Action flick starring Rutger Hauer and Kim Cattrall. This was my first viewing of the movie which I thought would be right up Patrick’s alley after seeing the poster and trailer. It felt Full Moon Pictures-y/Albert Pyun-y to me.

Patrick, what is your history with Split Second and how did it play for you now?
Patrick: I know I have seen it once before, but I remembered nothing about it. I desperately wanted to see this movie back in ‘92 because I knew it had a monster in it, but for some reason didn’t get around to checking it out until home video. The Albert Pyun comparison is very, very apt, which explains why I have some affection for this movie even though most of it doesn’t work. I’m a sucker for any movie that tries to do a dystopian future on a budget, and this movie adds elements like a constant flood (even though it has nothing to do with the narrative and probably just made shooting more difficult and unpleasant) and pollution that has blacked out the sky, causing endless night (even though there are clearly scenes that take place in daylight).

Adam: There are so many puddles in this movie. I would have lost my mind on this set the first time my socks got wet.

Patrick: The movie that kept coming to mind as I was watching Split Second was I Come in Peace, which does something very similar but, in my opinion, much more effectively. I think that’s because that movie’s director, the great Craig R. Baxley, is interested in movement and kineticism, whereas Split Second’s director Tony Maylam seems more interested in mood and atmosphere. He wants the movie to look cool, which it sometimes does. I don’t think the direction is where the movie comes up short. What was your take on it as a first-time viewer?

Adam: It’s a mixed bag. I thought the atmosphere created by the setting was interesting to look at and I liked how analog this version was of a futuristic dystopia. I was resisting the movie for a good hour of its hour-and-a-half runtime, but then the movie clicked into place right around the time Rutger Hauer (playing Harley Stone) and Neil Duncan (playing Dick Durkin) cracked each other up over the ridiculousness of their character names. After that point, their “partners who can’t stand each other” transformed thankfully into “partners who can’t get enough of each other” and I think the movie improves as a result. It was funny to me how many times everyone says “Durkin” and “Stone.” The filmmakers were really trying to make these two guys happen in the pop culture consciousness. They were 1992’s “Fetch.” I love the last beat of the movie which indicates the dream team of Stone and Durkin will be with us for the next few years in other adventures. It’s ludicrous and made me love the last act of the movie in hindsight. It also helps that the two cops becoming bruddahs takes the piss out of Harley Stone’s badass characterization from the first two acts. He throws garbage wherever he wants, he mainlines coffee and chocolate and he carries the biggest guns the department will let him. Once Durkin starts doing the same thing it somehow works because the movie seems to be in on the joke, and I realized the first hour maybe wasn’t the macho posturing I thought it was. The more I think about Split Second, the more I like Split Second.
Patrick: That was another thing that reminded me of I Come in Peace, because the Stone/Durkin dynamic is very similar to the Dolph Lundgren/Brian Benben dynamic in that movie. Durkin seems modeled after Benben, really -- a seemingly uptight preppy cop who longs to be a badass like his unlikely partner.

Adam: What did you think of the creature design and how the movie slowly reveals it for the climax? Apparently, Stephen Norrington (who would later go on to direct Blade) had only three weeks to put it together. I also read that the movie was released the same weekend as the Los Angeles riots, which is what the filmmakers blamed for the film’s poor box office. I feel like that might not have really been the reason.

Patrick: Yeah, I don’t think we can blame riots for this one. I actually really like the creature design, even if it is just a mix of Alien and Predator. One of my frustrations with Split Second is just how long they drag out revealing not just the creature, but the fact that it’s a creature at all. A monster serial killer is a great idea for a movie, but the filmmakers spend most of the movie avoiding the whole “monster” part of it. Why not have Stone find out he’s dealing with something otherworldly halfway through the movie? I know he has his suspicions, but it amounts to nothing more until the final act. Feels like a missed opportunity. The whole ending sequence in the subway station -- where we finally see and interact with the creature -- was shot and directed by someone other than Tony Maylam, according to the end credits, leading me to believe that the original version of this movie was very different.

Adam: We haven’t talked about Kim Cattrall yet. I love that she kept her hair from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. That’s all I have left to say about Split Second. It’s interesting to go back to a time when summer movie seasons needed to ramp up for a couple of weeks before the heavy hitters were released. Do you have any thoughts about the other films released that weekend - Folks! and K2? I remember thinking K2 was going to be a big hit because the T2 crowd would show up. It sounds like I’m joking, but I honestly thought that’s how it worked at age 10.
Patrick: I was so distracted by her lack of Valeris sideburns. I’m happy to see her show up in any movie, but this was a pretty thankless role. The movie is really the Rutger Hauer show, and he’s in full cool guy action hero mode.

I’ve never seen Folks! or K2, but I totally wanted to see K2 back in ‘92. Not bad enough that I made any effort in the subsequent 30 years, I guess.

I liked enough of Split Second because it’s the kind of movie I like, but not among the best versions of that kind of movie. Does that make sense? What do you want to talk about next week?

Adam: We had a couple of good choices: Poison Ivy and One False Move. Unfortunately, Poison Ivy isn’t streaming, but One False Move is a damn good consolation prize so we’re going to talk about that next week. See you then!


  1. The summer during the year of my birth. There's so many to choose from in that season!

  2. I think I liked Spilt Second a bit more than you guys but I haven't seen it or attempted to see it in years. So who knows? About hiding the killer or it being a monster In the movies wiki they do mention originally it was a human serial killer that showed up every 5 years. to quote wiki

    "script was an action, horror, and buddy cop film with occult overtones which took place in modern-day Los Angeles. It included a ritualistic serial killer who has committed five murders every five years for the last quarter of the century, and always leaves pentagram symbols after each death. One of the reasons why changes were demanded is because the script was considered to be too similar to another horror thriller which came out around the same time, The First Power (1990). "

    So I guess instead of Murtagh and Riggs versus Evil we got this.

    Can't wait to see next weeks on Mtv Movie Awards winner One False Move. A film I love. One of Bill Paxton's best roles and a script that will have you wondering why Billy Bob doesn't write more movies.

  3. One False Move! I am very much looking forward to you talking about that. I believe it was the first R rated movie I saw with my Pops. I love that darn movie. First R rated flick I saw with my Mom's was oddly, 'Freeway', with young Reese Witherspoon. She loved it, because Reese was small, and never gave up. Same reason my Mom loves Tommy Cruise.

  4. I particularly liked the Lex Luger keychain Durkin has.

  5. When I came across Split Second it felt like finding a late-night BBC made-for-tv cult movie, with a much longer cut out there somewhere. But that just made it feel like it was part of a bigger story & I didn't have to get it; just let the tropes pull me along & reorient me from time to time. Also I just love Stone's apartment & how the movie slows down & we just hang out there for a while.