The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Split Second (1992)

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This film was brought to my radar through a Tumblr site, Rise, which you can check out here. Really cool stuff there, especially some great pics from 80s flicks and TV shows. They posted a covershot from Split Second (not the one I used here), and I thought it was pretty sweet and reblogged it. I also realized that A) I needed to get some more Rutger Hauer up here, and B) I'd never seen this one before. So I put some work in and found out a buddy that's a pretty huge Rutger Hauer fan had it, so here we are.

Split Second takes place 3 years ago, when London is partially flooded due to Global Warming induced rains. Insert Hauer as a police detective who doesn't follow the rules, is reckless and dangerous, and has discovered a serial killer that he thought was gone is back and viciously killing people. But what is this thing? Is it even human? And does he have the firepower to stop it?

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This one falls short for me. Liked the premise and loved Hauer. It felt like it would've made a great 90s syndicated TV show, with Hauer as the lead reoccurring character, and this would've been a sweet one episode in said TV show. It just didn't quite have enough material for 90 minutes worth of movie. The first 40 minutes were pretty lackluster, then it picks up with the introduction of Kim Cattrall's character, and more consistent danger from the baddie that gives Hauer more than just mean-mugging and great one-liners to do. Then we get an extended ending which we needed to transition to quicker, something that I might have forgiven more had we not had a stagnant first 40 minutes or so, because it was good once we got there, but I'd already had enough "let's get on with it"s. This definitely had its moments, but overall was a miss.

I will say one thing for it though, this is some fantastic Rutger Hauer. This is certainly no Hauer bait-and-switch, this is the kind of too sweet Hauer that makes me fall for the bait-and-switch, the kind of Hauer that got him in the Hall of Fame in the first place. Everything is awesome, from the leather duster, the shades, the cigar and cigarette smoking, and the sweet one-liners. His character was a bit of a dick though, which was a bit of a drawback, but they made up for it by giving him a huge gun. Too bad even his awesomeness couldn't carry this film through its dead spots.

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This is some interesting Kim Cattrall. First off, she's something of a main character, but doesn't appear until around the 40 minute mark. Second, her hair is kind of weird, like a bob, but with the area right next to the ear shaved. What, is that supposed to be futuristic? Also, she has a shower scene, and boobs are shown. I know some people watch these movies for things like that, so yes, Kim Cattrall nude scene in Split Second. (And no, I didn't post any pics of it.)

The late Pete Postletwaite has a small part in this as the jerk fellow officer that's always giving Hauer a hard time. You can see from that image how far that gets him. In 1992, he made appearances in three TV shows, and four movies, including this one, Alien³, and Last of the Mohicans. I've always loved Pete Postletwaite, and he will be missed. Here's to you Pete, you were one of the good ones.

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I don't want to give too much of this movie away, but let's just say it [cough cough] emulates [cough cough] a few sci-fi classics that came before it. I don't have a problem with that at all. As long as there's stuff happening, a rip-off can be a lot of fun. With this one, it's almost as if the rip-off is an afterthought though, like they were writing a classic serial killer suspense thriller, and then couldn't figure out how to end it, and came up with all this madness. Problem is, the serial killer suspense thriller stuff was too boring, so by the time we got to the fun rip-off, I was too bored. On the other hand, I can see how many people would go into this, be bored by the beginning, then have so much fun with the end, that they forget the horrible beginning. I know this feeling. When I saw Iggy Pop in concert, he was so good, I literally forgot about the horrible opening act. I mean that too, a buddy I saw the show with brought up the opening act, and I was like "what opening act?"

According to Amazon, there actually is a region 1 DVD of this, and it'll run you about $125 used. I'm not kidding. Obviously, that's not what you want, and on VHS you can get it used for much cheaper, under $5. If you see it for a couple bucks, it's worth it for the great Rutger Hauer, but otherwise, it leaves quite a bit to be desired.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0105459/

26 comments:

  1. It's kind of scary if Rutger can't save it. I could watch him reading A Tale of Two Cities for an hour and a half, and it would still be entertaining (especially if he's smoking). What a shame. $125 for a DVD? Maybe I could see a VHS OOP, but a DVD? No way in Hades.

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  2. In that case you may dig this one, because there's a lot of Hauer, and he's really good. It's just that the first 40 minutes this movie spins its wheels, which was a bit much for me. And yeah, I'm not sure why the DVD is so expensive. It'd be one thing if it were a Criterion of Sid and Nancy, but Split Second? Is there really a market for that? Even for an OOP VHS that's steep by about $120.

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  3. Ha, I agree, way too expensive. I was looking for some Godfrey Ho stuff, and right now people selling the Full Metal Ninja VHS on Amazon are asking $150+. I'd like to see it, but that's ridiculous. I guess it's a sellers market for rarer titles like this.

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  4. I was actually lucky enough to find the DVD at Blockbuster for only 12 bucks, I knew how expensive it was on Amazon so I didn't hesitate to buy it, like you said, this was a pretty average film that gets better in the second half, shame it costs so much for the DVD, that's the most insane price for a film i've ever seen.

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  5. Good stuff. Yeah, the secondary market is interesting, because on the one hand, they have you over a barrel if you're going Amazon, because only a fraction of the people that own some of these more obscure titles are actually selling them on there; by the same token, if you're an opportunist and hit a lot of flea markets and whatnot, sometimes you can find these gems for a fraction of the cost-- it's just, it's always hit or miss.

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  6. My local theater had this for like... 5 days. I remember seeing it on the marquee on Tues, then when I went to see it on Weds. it was gone. The girl at the ticket booth said they only had like 3 people see it all week so they ended the run early to make room for more showings of something else.

    It's funny you mentioned the price gouging because the other day I saw Split Second used on DVD at FYE for $60. It's weird going through so many crap movies in the used bin for $4 and then there's a $60 one in there. I remember one time they had the R-rated Swamp Thing for $80 and the PG one for $8. I had the clerk convinced it was a typo and she was going to give me the R rated one for 8 but her manager came over and ruined things for me. Oh well.

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  7. Wow, $60 at FYE, I'm surprised they'd price something out like that. I was pissed that the local record store had Guns and Lipstick for $8, forget $60! And I love that Swamp Thing story, that's awesome.

    I forgot to mention in the opening that this did gross $5 million in the box office here in the States, so I'm glad you picked me up on that one. Too bad you weren't able to contribute to that-- were they devoting another screen to Last of the Mohicans?

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  8. Great review! I just reviewed this one myself about a week back.
    I actually had a good time with this one. Even though I hadn't seen it since it first came out, I had already put it in my head that it was a low-budget sci-fi mish mash of better films. So with that in mind, and the fact that Hauer was perfectly cast in the role, I enjoyed it quite a bit. His clothes, big guns and constant screaming for coffee was just awesome Rutger Hauer.
    Sucks about the stateside dvd though. The Region 2 is fairly cheap and it's even in widescreen if you can believe it or not. I need to just break down and get myself a region free dvd player.
    Great review!

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  9. I believe they were opening up another theater for either Alien 3 or Lethal Weapon 3; I can't remember which. It was one of the big ticket summer movies.

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  10. I'll have to check out your review RobotGeek. I agree about how great Hauer was, but the Sci-Fi genre mash-up/rip-off came way too late for it to save this film, or really for the film to be able to hang its hat on it. I wish we had more of that in the first 40 minutes, it would've been more fun for me.

    And I was going to say Alien3, damn, that would've been a better guess!

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  11. Great write up. As you already know I love this but I do see where your coming from. Good stuff regardless of taste preferences.

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  12. Have I seen this? My gut is telling me that I have...but I might be confusing it with another Rutger movie called Red Line. Have you seen that one? I'd be curious to see them back to back...and see how quickly I forget the double feature.

    Nice review, as always. This is a first time, long time moment for me. I've been reading your blog for years, and never commented.

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  13. Got this on VHS a while back - a double pack with Wedlock. Not sure which is the better movie - both were a bit lacklustre. This movie obviously has a lot of problems with pacing.

    Also, the whole American cop in London thing doesn't really chime. It feels a little like the script was originally written to be set in America but got relocated for budget reasons.

    Definite vibes of Dolph Lungren classic "I Come in Peace" too - particularly with the mismatched Hauer and Neil Duncan. Also, Steve Norrington did the special effects on this - and went on to direct Death Machine, which has a bit of similar vibe.

    Just checked IMDB trivia, apparently Kim Catrall's shaved hair was because she'd just finished film Star Trek VI where she plays a Vulcan.

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  14. Great review! Rutger was at his best here.

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  15. I love Split Second. It's not a perfect movie but it's a really laid back sci-fi actioner. I actually enjoyed the first half of the movie because of how intense Hauer was with the smoking and coffee. After the midpoint he just kinda gave it up. Then it was all about that pussy character trying to be something he's not. Which is fine, he had some pretty epic lines.

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  16. Hey Dusty, great to have you commenting finally, but I'm glad you've been rockin' with us for a while and have enjoyed us this long-- hopefully I'll keep up the good work! And as far as Redline, I enjoyed that one better than this one according to my review-- which you may have had trouble finding, because it's listed in tbe archive under it's imdb title, "Deathline", maybe I should switch that, because I couldn't find it in their either, and had to click on the Rutger Hauer tag.

    I can see why you enjoyed this one Guts and Grog, because it had plenty of great moments, I just wish it didn't bore me so much at the beginning, but like Ty said, really great Hauer, and that's nothing to sneeze at.

    Thanks for the trivia on Cattrall's hair J. Thursby-- I probably should've looked that up myself considering it was on imdb... You know what would've been better as far as Hauer's character went, is to just make him Dutch. I guess the idea in the movie though was that no one wanted to work in London, and Hauer was so bad everywhere else, he had no choice.

    I wasn't exactly a big fan of Death Machine either, but one thing it was was more consistent than this. It was always a sci-fi rip-off, not a boring suspense thriller, then a sci-fi rip-off.

    I agree Mr. gable on how awesome Hauer was, for me I just felt like it was material that kept being repeated. Yes, we get it, he likes tons of coffee and cigarettes. Yes, he'll use your pen to stir his coffee. Yes, he doesn't like his partner and is always trying to mess with him. That's great for twenty minutes, but at forty, I feel like I'm stuck in the Twilight Zone.

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  17. Always wanted to see it because a buddy recommended it, but I havent been able to get my hands on it. Hauer rules, and will always rule.

    I did manage to see one of these straight to video movies he did in the nineties called Crossworlds, in which Hauer plays a dimension traveling dude who can stop an interdimensional war. I remember liking that one, you might want to give it a go if you havent already.

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  18. I wasn't a big fan of this either. Too much like I Come In Peace and Predator 2. Plus the movie's Low Rent Blade Runner look was cheesy and dull. Rutger Hauer was greatt but I always say this one is overrated among B.movie fans.

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  19. Haven't seen this in a long time. Good review.

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  20. Crossworlds is on my radar, and Split Second has, at the very least, put a lot of the Hauer stuff from the 90s back into the rotation, after I'd kind of forgotten about them while I looked at other stuff, so expect more Hauer in the near future. And Ed, I'm not saying you shouldn't see it again, just don't invest too much.

    Whoa, Kenner, coming back after being on hiatus for months, and you're already throwing chin music. "Overrated among B-movie fans". You must be riding the high of the great play from your Detroit teams. Nice to see you back.

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  21. Yes I was thrilled to see my team start off 1-0. However I never was a big fan of this, I think what the movie needed was to give the alien a personality. Like in I Come In Peace and Predator 2, such silent element works because it takes place relatively in the present. However anytime a movie is futuristic cyberpunk, it needs villains that are smart or savage in a futuristic way. The monster to me was very disappoiting.

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  22. You know why the alien or whatever had no personality? Because he was nonexistent for the first 40 minutes! This technically wasn't a sci-fi film for the first 40 minutes. I think the hardest part, is splitting the difference between the solid end, and the lackluster beginning.

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  23. I personally love this and have found out it has something of a cult following. It has some really quotable lines, a brilliant score, great stuff. I can certainly see the problems you had with this and even agree with them, but this just worked for me, from beginning to end. Can't explain it, but it did. The original HBO DVD indeed goes for huge bucks these days despite being a VHS quality transfer with no extras. German DVD claims to be 16:9 widescreen, but they just took the 4:3-version (which wasn't full frame to begin with) and cropped the top and bottom, so I'd go with the Australian release. It's R0, but in PAL-system.

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  24. I guess I'm a little more discerning in my movies-- i.e. I want something to happen in them in the first 40 minutes, but I can see where people would enjoy this, because it had its moments.

    And maybe it's that cult status that has made the DVD such a premium. If you all came on here talking about the film being utter crap, I bet the price would go down.

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  25. You know, when I get an opening scene where a tough loner cop puts on sunglasses and walks down a corridor with a large gun while drums that would shame Hans Zimmer are blazing on the soundtrack (great scene!) AND an unknown, possibly/probably supernatural killer who rips hearts from people, I become strangely forgiving. This is just a genre that I really, really like, so...you know, this one simply just worked for me. One of those things.

    I think the DVD price is simply a case of short supply. If you look at some other HBO releases from that era (say, a minor release like Dance With Death), they also go for around $80 new. The same went for some Roger Corman films before his people made more copies and started selling the films themselves. Now, is there a market? I don't know if anyone's ever paid $80 for Dance With Death, but I do know a lot of people have bought Split Second for over $100. Those buyers are dumb since a region-free player and an R2 release together would be much cheaper. And I'm really dumb since I refused to sell my own "like new"-copy for $150 simply because I'm a collector and the thing is now something of a collector's item. But I'm single. I don't have to buy lamps and furniture. I can afford to be dumb, dammit!

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  26. TJ my man, I will never call you dumb for choosing sentimental reasons over money. Money isn't everything, and you're right, you have money to burn anyway that would've been spent on home furnishings.

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