Director: David Schnoeller
Cast: Klaus Kinski, Talia Balsam, Barbara Whinnery
The fact that this is a Charles Band production will
probably danger to most viewers. That's because the Band family has
responsible for a number of bad movies, most recently with their Full
productions, and in the past with movies like Laserblast.
They have occasionally made a good movie, though. The more recent The
Pit And The Pendulum and Dark Angel were good,
in the 80s they made Reanimator and Crawlspace.
You probably know all about Reanimator, though I won't
surprised if you haven't heard of Crawlspace. It's an
little movie - well, "odd" is not strong enough to describe it. It's
of those really offbeat movies that you either immediately accept or
so that automatically takes away much of its potential audience. Also,
it's the kind of movie where people might feel guilty about saying that
they like it, so there goes some potential publicity. More chance of it
being well-known go by the fact that this is a very hard movie to
- there's not much plot, and you can't really give it a decent
concerning what it's about in just a few sentences. I'll try to write
for an average-sized review, but it won't be easy.
Landlord Karl Gunther is quite an eccentric guy, not
to the fact that he only seems to rent out his apartments to pretty
women. He's constructed a trapdoor from one of his rooms, which leads
a crawlspace where he can crawl all over the building and peep at his
usually seeing them in states of undress. While in there, he plays
pranks, like letting rats into the tenants' living rooms.
Sounds like a quite mischievous guy, but he doesn't just
stop there. Possibly due to the fact that his father was a Nazi war
he experimented with killing his patients while he was a doctor in
America. Now he's moved onto a bigger scale of insanity; he kills his
and visitors who don't strike his fancy with various booby traps (glad
the scene where the visitor was killed in the chair wasn't explicit),
keeps various parts of their body in glass jars full for formaldehyde.
In his spare time, he pops warts on his hand, and plays solitary
Roulette. Oh, and he keeps a woman, whose tongue he cut out, in a small
cage in his apartment. When she writes a note asking him to kill her,
argues, "Then who would I talk to?"
That's about it when it comes to plot. There is the
of new tenant Lori, who we know will survive because not only is she
smallest woman in the building, her hair is nowhere as big-'80s as the
other tenants. Later in the movie, the brother of one of Gunther's
American victims comes snooping around. But these and other incidents
don't have any bearing on the little plot there is. Most of the movie
focused on Gunther doing his various twisted activities, and it's not
near the end of the movie that there is any real crisis. Then once that
crisis is averted, the movie pretty much ends right there, without us
an epilogue of any kind.
But the plot is not the main attraction here. That
goes to Kinski. Though he's well known for giving over-the-top
he really takes the cake here. When someone tells him, "You have a face
I think I'd remember", they are not exaggerating. Even when he's not
his goofy facial expressions make you laugh, and you can't even imagine
what he's like when he's talking. He giggles, blushes, and has a crazy
grin plastered on his lips. It's obvious that Kinski knows he is coming
across this way, but this is one of those rare times where an actor
a unsubtly broad performance just adds to the fun. He's willing to do
including putting on eyeliner and smearing lipstick on his lips. It's
it on thick, but in this case it's like adding icing to a cake.
The movie may lack plot, and is very close to being pure
exploitation, but you can't say for one minute it's boring. In one
that's quite an achievement, because 99% of the movie takes place not
indoors, but only in a few rooms. In another aspect, the directorial
is very quiet and static; though it does make it harder to get bizarre
material into this atmosphere, it at least makes the advantage of
this material more loopy, craziness in a sea of passiveness. Plus,
there are moments where we have to wait for something, we are not bored
while we wait, because we know it will be worth the wait for the next
of insanity to head our way.
So how should this movie be classified? Well, definitely
not for everyone, that's for sure. Thinking about it, I conclude you
to be in two moods to appreciate this movie - not only must you have
and enjoyed in your past movies about really sick psychos, but you have
to be open for this psycho's antics to be presented not only in an
cinematic narrative, but a really twisted unconventional cinematic
If your curiosity was piqued by the description of the stuff that
in Crawlspace, then you'll probably find it interesting
watch. Otherwise, stay away.
Also reviewed at: Cold Fusion
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Check for availability on Amazon (Blu-Ray)
Amazon for controversial Kinski autobiography "Kinski Uncut"
also: If You Meet Sartana..., Madman, Skinner