Crawlspace is an odd film. There's really no other way of saying it. When I first read the synopsis (Yes, I read one for a change, aren't you proud?) I thought to myself, "YES". In case you're curious, this is the synopsis:
Klaus Kinski is at his creepy best as Karl Gunther, whose boarding house for young women hides some sinister secrets. He spends his downtime stalking his tenants from hidden passages and carrying out kinky, sadistic experiments. The son of a psychotic SS doctor, Gunther is being tracked by a famed Nazi hunter. But until he's caught, more unassuming women will fall victim to his depravity.
Now correct me if I'm wrong, but that does warrant a full standing, "YES", am I right? I mean, a creepy old man who runs a boarding house solely for women AND carries out "kinky" experiments!? Sign me up! After all, how can one really go wrong with a film where so much awesome is supposed to happen?
Before everyone gets all excited and goes out and buys Crawlspace t-shirts and mouse pads however, I feel it my duty to warn you of something quite important. Crawlspace? Not that cool. Mostly, because half of what that description says never happens. I know, I know, I may as well have just peed in your potato chips, but we'll all just have to deal with it.
The good thing about the film however is that it does contain some solid bits of creepiness. The opening scene is superb in its ability to combine horror cliches and random what the fuck moments. Like, a door closing by itself behind our first victim and then a bald woman in a cage for instance
....excellent stuff and completely what I envision when I hear the term Nazi wannabe and kinky experiments. After this moment of brilliance however, we are led to watch the film with open eyes hoping that something kinky does end up happening. But it doesn't!
The kinkiest thing that happens is that some slut cuts holes in her red bra exposing her nipples while her boyfriend plays the "I'm going to pretend to be a rapist" game with her. Super kinky. But no Nazis. Therein lies the great dilemma.
Here's the thing about Crawlspace: all the good stuff happens without us. It's like arriving late to a birthday party and finding out that the magician already left. Thanks a lot Mom for driving so slowly. But honestly, if Crawlspace boasts kinky, sadistic experiments, then I want to see some fucking kinky, sadistic experiments! I figured that slowly each girl in the boarding house would fall victim to Gunther's sadistic ways but instead, he just looked at them from behind a grate and made noises with his switchblade. Borrrring. Even the beginning feeling of Klaus Kinski being the creepiest old man in the history of the world wears off pretty quickly and that is depressing.
The film also doesn't make any sense. Gunther writes in his journals about how after reading his father's journals and finding out about euthanasia, it prompted him also to seek out the process. But we never get a clear idea of what the hell is going on inside the man's head. Every night he plays Russian Roulette by himself and writes in his journals.
He seems oddly grounded for a man that is supposed to carry out kinky and sadistic experiments on unsuspecting young women. Then it happens. About an hour and 10 minutes into the hour and 20 minute running time, Gunther snaps. He plays his old Nazi videos, and puts on makeup and really kicks things into high gear.
Or we assume he does. We never know because we missed the fucking magician.
Our leading lady only finally realizes that Gunther is creepy after finding a dead man floating in her bathtub and goes off to warn the other girls. Unfortunately, all the other girls were killed in kinky and sadistic ways behind our backs! When did all this go down? How? That is exactly what I'd like to know but unfortunately, we'll never find out.
By the way, this rubbish about a Nazi hunter on Gunther's tail? Rubbish. If by Nazi hunter you mean, guy who is angry that Gunther killed his brother when Gunther used to work in a hospital, then yes......Nazi hunter. Other than that though? Useless. The only good thing about Crawlspace is the unveiling of all the dead bodies at the end. Which I'll post for you, so that you don't have to waste your time watching the whole movie.
There's also a lot of rat trauma going on in this. For some reason the rats are a big deal in this and I haven't quite figured it out yet. There's also an insanely grueling chase sequence through the crawlspace at the end. If you've ever wondered how grueling a chase sequence through a crawlspace can be then let me show you.... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
That is until Gunther magically gets whisked away by a strange rolling contraption allowing him to catch up with the leading lady.
Honestly though, try not to be fooled by the majestic powers of Crawlspace and its neat synopsis. See? This is why I don't read synopses. They only create disappointment and heartburn. Seriously though, despite the fact that there are several moment of unintentional hilarity running rampant--resist the urge to put this on your queue or suffer the consequences of sadness. Also a kitten dies...NOT COOL.