Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tuesday's Overlooked Movie: Split Second (1992)

Split Second is a B- or C-grade action/horror flick that should've been made in the eighties, but it came out only in 1992. For some reason or another, the film came to Finnish cinema theaters and I managed to see it. I remember thinking it was somewhat entertaining, but I also remember everyone else saying it was pure crap.

I picked the VHS up free from a thrift store and wanting to see something light, I decided to watch Split Second. It didn't very well hold up my interest this time, even though I'm ready to admit it was still somewhat entertaining. I found myself Googling bits of info on the film and its director, Tony Maylam, on my phone throughout the film, so I wasn't actually glued to the screen.

The story takes place in a near future, and the climate change has made London flood all over the place. An alien is on a killing spree and leaving mysterious signs behind, and tough loner cop Rutger Hauer is the only one who realizes they are not up against an ordinary man. The signs aren't however satisfactorily explained, maybe they were just a red herring. There's some banter between Hauer and his partner, a nerdy young guy who's just fresh from the academy (some fresh ideas in the film, huh?), but overall it's disappointing. Hauer's cop acts at times like an incompetent moron. I'm not sure I would assign him to any case. The alien, when it finally reveals itself, is quite poorly and badly made. Editing and shooting in darkness help a little, but not much. The monster in this film should've been huge! If I were rating this, I'd give it a ** or even *½.

However, I got to thinking that Split Second might have influenced my writing, at least on a subconscious level. My debut novel (well, my commercially published debut novel), called Jumalten tuho in Finnish (meaning "Twilight of the Gods") is about an alien (not a space alien, though, more like a monster from Christianity's darkest secrets) on a killing spree, ripping its victims wide open. There's also a tough cop almost alone working on a case. Of course there are dozens of films and books written about similar stuff, but maybe I saw Split Second during a sensitive phase (insert smiley here). If I saw it in 1992, that's about the same time I started writing the short story that gradually became my novel.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin as domestic suspense


Domestic suspense is a sub-genre that I've been long interested in. I've earlier dubbed it female noir, but I've never really been satisfied with that moniker, so "domestic suspense", coined by mystery maven Sarah Weinman, comes really handy. Weinman writes in her website dedicated to her excellent anthology Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives:

It’s a genre of books published between World War II and the height of the Cold War, written by women primarily about the concerns and fears of women of the day. These novels and stories operate on the ground level, peer into marriages whose hairline fractures will crack wide open, turn ordinary household chores into potential for terror, and transform fears about motherhood into horrifying reality. They deal with class and race, sexism and economic disparity, but they have little need to show off that breadth.
Instead, they turn our most deep-seated worries into narrative gold, delving into the dark side of human behavior that threatens to come out with the dinner dishes, the laundry, or taking care of a child. They are about ordinary, everyday life, and that’s what makes these novels of domestic suspense so frightening. The nerves they hit are really fault lines.

I recently read, due to a book project I've been working, Lionel Shriver's best-selling novel We Need to Talk About Kevin. I saw the film earlier, and I liked both a great deal. They are somewhat different, the film being a condensed version of the slightly too long novel, but very effective nonetheless. I got to thinking that Shriver's novel is a very good example of contemporary domestic suspense: it's about the concerns and fears of women, it operates on the ground level, peers into a marriage whose hairline fractures will crack open, et cetera. You get the drift. The suspense, the horror of the novel comes out with the dinner dishes, the laundry and especially taking care of a child. And this particular child is horrendous.

I won't spoil the book (or the film), there's enough information on it in the web, but even though I'd seen the film earlier, I was very captivated by the novel and its slowly unfolding secrets, to the very end.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

The crime fiction issue of the Human Journal

Seems interesting, at least the lengthy interview with Michael Connelly. There's also an article about John P. Marquand's Mr. Moto series. Check it out here!

By the way, I got this link from one of Sarah Weinman's delightfully informative posts on her The Crime Lady e-mail list. Do subscribe to it here! 

Monday, July 27, 2015

For a Raymond Chandler completist

Raymond Chandler just had a birthday couple days back. Here's a book I ran into, looks like a must have for any Chandler completist. It's a Finnish school book for students of English language, published in 1986, with a pulp magazine story by Chandler up front! The texts are in original English, though they may have been slightly edited. There's also the table of contents, it seems like a nice collection of varied crime stories. I don't know who did the cover.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Randy Johnson

Only now I notice this. Naturally I never met Randy Johnson, but his blog and Facebook posts sure felt like he was a nice buy. Certainly he was knowledgeable and supportive. Here's to him!

PS. Sorry for not posting anything on my own for the past months or so. Even during the holidays I find myself swamped with work. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Ten best noir novels of the 21st century

Eric Beetner has a pretty good list. I've read five (Starr, Phillips, Zeltserman, Rector, Max Phillips), and also two of the ones bubbling under (Megan Abbott and James Sallis).