Director: Russell Mulcahy
Writer: Richard Christian Matheson
Cast: Brion James, Michelle Johnson, Billy Wirth, John Kassir, Dan Martin, Alan Palo, and Tony Pierce
Composer: Brian May
Air Date: 8/7/1991
Having recently married Steve Dixon (Brion James), the hot-tempered manager of a lumber camp, waitress Liz (Michelle Johnson) remains unable to alleviate her perpetual boredom. When Ted—a handsome and physically fit contestant in a local woodcutting competition—arrives at the camp, Liz plays a dangerous game of seduction in order to entertain herself.
By employing one-dimensional characters in conjunction with cartoonish dialogue, “Split Second” earns its reputation as the quintessential Tales from the Crypt episode. Also worth praising, a brutal but satisfying twist in the final scene will appeal to those with a compelling desire for justice.
Upon perceiving another man’s challenge for the affections of his wife, Steve responds by erupting into animalistic fits of rage—a suitable complement to the visage of Brion James, whose primitive yet formidable features resemble those of a typical caveman drawing. The performance of James will thus evoke a primal sense of terror from viewers of a sensitive nature, especially when coupled with the inarticulate, partially slurred accusations made by Steve following his transformation into a raving lunatic. (The absence of a sympathetic and fully developed protagonist may, however, prevent the audience from caring about the severe threat posed by Steve.)
According to wise-cracking lumberjack Snaz (Dan Martin), Steve was a “helluva guy” prior to marrying Liz—possibly a statement on the effect that toxic women can have on even the most noble of men. It should nevertheless be noted that Steve’s character transition is implied to span less than a week, thereby further hampering the credibility of an over-the-top—if not thoroughly unrealistic—episode.
Despite emulating the exaggerated narrative style of an EC Comics tale, “Split Second” contains a relevant life lesson about defending the honor of those who have none (e.g. Liz, a promiscuous and remarkably disloyal wife).
A delightfully gruesome episode, “Split Second” should be requisite viewing for fans of the horror/comedy crossover genre. Especially commendable is the character of Steve, whose presence embodies a more fearsome quality than that of any fictitious monster featured in Tales from the Crypt.
Overall Quality: 9/10
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