Split Second (1992 film)

Split Second is a 1992 American-British science fiction horror film directed by Tony Maylam and Ian Sharp.[5] Rutger Hauer stars as a burnt-out police detective obsessively hunting down the mysterious serial killer that killed his partner several years prior. The film also features Kim Cattrall, Alastair Neil Duncan, Pete Postlethwaite, Ian Dury, and Alun Armstrong.

Split Second
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced byLaura Gregory
Written byGary Scott Thompson
Music by
CinematographyClive Tickner
Edited byDan Rae
  • Muse Productions[1]
  • Challenge Films[1]
Distributed byInterStar (US)[1]
Release date
  • 1 May 1992 (1992-05-01)
Running time
90 minutes
  • United Kingdom[2]
  • United States[2]
Budget$7 million[3]
Box officeUS$5.4 million[4]


In the year 2008, global warming and heavy rainfall has left large areas of London flooded. Rookie police officer Dick Durkin (Neil Duncan) is assigned to partner with Harley Stone (Rutger Hauer), a burnt-out and highly cynical veteran homicide detective who, according to his commanding officer, survives on "anxiety, coffee, and chocolate" after being unable to prevent the death of his partner Foster by a serial killer 3 years previously. Now, the murders have begun again and Stone is obsessed with the case. An Oxford-educated psychologist, Durkin is ordered to stick with Stone at all times and report any unstable behavior. After investigating the scenes of several killings, they appear no closer in identifying the killer, although Stone seems to share some sort of psychic connection with him. Their only clues are that the murders seem to be linked with the lunar cycle, and that the killer takes an organ from each victim, apparently to eat them. Lab analysis of blood left during one encounter shows that the killer possesses multiple recombinant DNA strands, somehow having absorbed the DNA of its victims. Complicating matters is the return of Michelle (Kim Cattrall), Foster's wife whom Stone had an affair with.

While attempting to figure out the killer's motives and pattern, Stone and Durkin begin to bond as Durkin loosens up and starts to understand Stone. Durkin hypothesizes that the killer is taunting Stone personally, following him and then killing someone at each location. The killer then attacks a woman in Stone's apartment building, afterwards kidnapping Michelle while the two detectives are downstairs. They track the killer deep into the flooded tunnels of the London Underground subway system and discover the truth: the killer is not human. It's actually a large, horrific and possibly demonic creature that is fast, savage, and bloodthirsty. Durkin figures out that Stone escaped from it ten years ago, and it is now fixated upon killing Stone just as it previously killed Foster. In fact, as the movie progresses, each killing and "appearance" of the monster is an attempt to lure Stone closer and closer. The massive chest wound that Stone sustained all those years ago is what created the psychic link between Stone and the creature.

Finally learning where the creature makes its lair, Stone and Durkin head to the area, armed to the teeth and relying on Stone to find the monster just as it always finds him. They emerge into an abandoned underground train station to find Michelle suspended over the water as obvious bait, but Stone frees her anyway, prompting the creature to show up. During the fight, Durkin wounds the creature's chest—allowing Stone to pull the monster's heart out and kill it. However, as the three of them leave the station, bubbles of air are seen breaking the surface of the water, suggesting that there may be more than one monster.



Screenwriter Gary Scott Thompson wrote the original script titled Pentagram in 1988. Although Thompson's script got him some more jobs in Hollywood, it wasn't picked up until a few years later. Laura Gregory, producer and head of Challenge Films, and production manager Susan Nicoletti discovered the script and thought it had great potential. They hired Tony Maylam to direct the film. However, they wanted Thompson to make some changes to the script. His 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). Thompson changed the script during re-writes and his new version of it, titled Black Tide, was very close to the final film. It was set in a futuristic London which became flooded due to the effects of global warming. This new version of the script was sent to Rutger Hauer who loved it and agreed to star in the film. Though Thompson originally wrote the script with Harrison Ford in mind for the main role, he was happy that Hauer was cast as the lead.

During production, the script kept getting changed. There were lot of discussions about what the main villain/creature should look like and what exactly it would be, which is why Stephen Norrington had only three weeks to design the creature. The ending also kept getting changed. Thompson was re-writing it during filming. Hauer told him to re-write the script to make it more physical and with more focus on the psychic link that his character has with the creature. Due to all the stress during production, Maylam stepped back from finishing the film, so Ian Sharp and others involved in the film joined up to finish it. Sharp directed the finale which takes place in a flooded subway along with some other additional scenes, which is why he's credited as co-director in ending credits. The movie was filmed in eight weeks, between June 17 and August 9 of 1991, and was widely released in April 1992. Although it was re-titled again sometime during production from Black Tide to Split Second, the movie still had several different titles in other countries, like Killer Instinct (in France) and Detective Stone (in Italy). Despite an exciting ad campaign and good word of mouth, the movie underperformed at the box office because it was released during the Los Angeles riots.[6][7][1]

Wendy Carlos, who composed the scores for A Clockwork Orange (1971), The Shining (1980), and Tron (1982), was hired to compose the score for Split Second, but her score was rejected and replaced with a new soundtrack by Francis Haines and Stephen W. Parsons. Two tracks from Carlos' rejected score were included on her compilation album Rediscovering Lost Scores, Volume 2; both tracks were going to be used in the morgue scene.[8]

Some scenes were deleted from the film. A Japanese VHS version included two of the deleted scenes. In the first one, Stone and Durkin go to Durkin's apartment where they talk with his neighbor Robin (played by actress Roberta Eaton, who is still credited in the film even though her scene was deleted). The second deleted scene features more dialogue between Stone and Durkin at the same time as the "monster" is killing a jogger and ripping his heart out. Stone and Durkin find the man's corpse afterwards. These extra scenes are included as bonus features on the Blu-ray of the film released by 101 Films.[9]


Lawrence Cohn of Variety wrote, "Split Second is an extremely stupid monster film, boasting enough violence and special effects to satisfy less-discriminating vid fans."[1] Chris Willman of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "It's hard to think of a less satisfying creature feature in recent memory than the simply terrible Split Second."[10] Stephen Holden of The New York Times called it "fairly dull".[11] Doug Brod of Entertainment Weekly called it "utterly soulless and imitative".[12] In Time Out London, Nigel Floyd wrote, "This derivative eco-horror movie recycles dozens of disposable plots".[5]

Belgian grindcore band Aborted used an image from the film for the cover of their first album, The Purity of Perversion (1999).


  1. Cohn, Lawrence (1 May 1992). "Review: 'Split Second'". Variety. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  2. "Split Second (1992)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  3. http://www.the-numbers.com/movie/Split-Second
  4. "Split Second (1992)". Box Office Mojo. Summary. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  5. Floyd, Nigel. "Split Second". Time Out London. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  6. Starlog magazine, May 1992, pages 48-52
  7. http://horrornews.net/111548/film-review-split-second-1992/
  8. http://www.wendycarlos.com/+rls2.html
  9. http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Split-Second-Blu-ray/125751/
  10. "MOVIE REVIEW: 'Split Second': A Monstrous Disaster". Los Angeles Times. 5 May 1992. Retrieved 3 June 2012.
  11. "Reviews/Film; A Most Unpleasant London". The New York Times. 4 May 1992. Retrieved 3 June 2012.
  12. Brod, Doug (4 September 1992). "Split Second". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
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