Crawlspace (1986)

JUNE 16, 2007


I recall watching at least some of Crawlspace as a 6 year old. At my grandmother’s house. And she was present. Like I’ve said before, I was lucky enough to have a mom (and apparently, grandmother) who had no problem letting me watch R rated horror movies. But no 6 year old should ever be exposed to Klaus Kinski. There are limits even I would impose.

Crawlspace is an interesting movie for the time. Kinski’s character set up traps and played tricks on his victims. He’s also a crazed Nazi. It’s like Saw crossed with Death Ship. Strangely, most of the kills are offscreen. We have the standard ‘find all the dead friends’ sequence, but we never saw him kill any of them. I looked and can find no evidence of the film being cut (it’s only 77 minutes long, with a lengthy non-action credit sequence), so maybe they just couldn’t afford to film them (which wouldn’t surprise you in the least, this IS a Charles Band production after all).

And like I’ve always said, not enough movies feature rape fantasy scenarios between two of the protagonists. I was delighted to see one in this film, which also comes with another rare bonus: a rival peeping scene! Kinski’s in the crawlspace, the “rapist” is at the window, both are watching the most 80s blonde in cinematic history cut the nipple areas out of her bra. Later, the same blonde plays a hauntingly beautiful (read: delightfully awful) ballad on the piano, and it is framed in such a way that we can see her giant framed Barbara Streisand album cover on the wall. I admit to even recognizing which Streisand album it was (Emotion) because that’s the one with her ludicrous cover of Jim Steinman’s “Left in the Dark”, which truly IS one of the most haunting songs ever recorded (I vow to use the creepy narration at the beginning and the end of the song in a movie someday: “Where did he touch you and how did it feel?”).

This movie features what may be one of my favorite dialogue exchanges of all time. Kinski is showing a newly vacant apartment to who will obviously be our Final Girl:

Girl: This place is great… much better than that weird old haunted house I lived in before.
Kinski: (Just smiles, a mixture of creepiness and confusion why someone would be so blasé about living in a haunted house)
Girl: I swear the guy across the hall was a vampire.
Kinski: (continues his “what the hell is this broad talking about” look)
Girl: You know what I like most about this place?
Kinski: (totally straight) That there are no vampires?

HAHAHAHAHA oh man I laughed for a good minute.

In fact, even without Kinski, the movie is pretty off-kilter. We also have a “Soap opera actress… who plays a soap opera actress.” and a group of women who enjoy “Tequila milkshakes” (????). There’s also woman so dumb that she doesn’t know if a ballet was boring or not until someone told her that it was. And, every now and then, Kinski plays Russian Roulette by himself. We see him pull the trigger 6 times but the bullet never comes up, reminding me of that one Tales from the Crypt episode with Lance Henriksen.

At 77 minutes, I can think of only four non-animated modern movies that are shorter. Incidentally many of them involve Charles Band (Dollman vs. Demonic Toys remains the all time champ at 61 minutes, half of which is footage from the previous movies as well as Bad Channels). Gotta love the guy.

What say you?


  1. I really dug Kinski in this. He's so creepy. I was kinda disappointed in the kills. He went through the trouble of devising these bizarre traps and torture devices and we hardly see them used. I wondered what he planned on doing with that box and all it did was accidentally kill a cat. It also had one of the most far-fetched scenes I've seen in a horror film. The Doctor is RIGHT behind the girl chasing her then she ducks behind the couch and he loses her. They're in a attic! There was no place for her to go! There's a lot of weird, funny stuff going on in this.

  2. Heil Gunther!!! :P


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