A young tennant is searching for the landlord, Karl Gunther. She wanders into his apartment/torture chamber and meets his tongueless captive, Martha. Gunther isn’t far behind. He laments that he ‘liked’ her before springing a long blade from the ceiling to impale her. After, Karl plays Russian Roulette alone and lives to torture another day.
Meet Sophie. She’s giving boyfriend Hank an intentional eyeful as he hides in the bushes. Karl is also treating himself to an eyeful from his air duct hiding space. The next day Karl rents the vacant apartment to young student Lori. He wastes no time being creepy, cooking his hand on the stove until she agrees to rent. At home, Gunther is regaling Martha with tales of his childhood exile in Argentina.
Sophie and the rest of the girls in the building invite Lori over for tequila milkshakes. Karl invites himself and introduces the girls to a few of his rodent friends. A little later Karl initiates Lori further with his ritual vent tapping torture he uses on all the girls. Sophie sets out to rile Hank up again, this time with music. Karl has other ideas and takes Hank’s eyes. Then he plays another round of solo roulette, again he wins.
A very expository guest comes to visit Karl. We learn that when Karl was chief of medicine in Buenos Ares sixty seven people died of routine illnesses. Including this man, Josef Steiner’s brother. He also reveals that Gunther’s father was a Nazi doctor. Gunther kicks him out but Steiner is tenacious. He returns the next day, speaking first to Lori then letting himself into Gunther’s apartment. Unfortunately for Steiner he sit in the only booby trapped chair and is killed. Gunther plays another winning round of roulette.
Rapidly spiralling out of control, Gunther punishes Lori for talking to Steiner by dropping Steiner’s corpse in her tub. Karl applies some sloppy makeup and give Lori a blank look from outside her window. Lori’s no dummy, she attempts to make a break for it but Karl locks her in. She attempts to alert the other girls only to find them all dead. Ok, maybe Lori is a dummy. First, she chooses to hide from Gunther in his torture chamber and then in his beloved crawlspace. Lori frees Martha and then plays hide and seek with Gunther in the air ducts. When Karl is momentarily distracted faking his death, the girls make a break for Karl’s apartment. As he advances, laughing, Lori finds his roulette gun. Karl Gunther loses.
HA! Bet you thought we were dead, we’re back!
I was legitimately excited when we stumbled across Crawlspace. An eighties German torture flick sounded like just what I needed. Sadly, it was an American flick with a German in it and no visible torture. The real selling point to this one is the absolutely bat shit Klaus Kinski. Actual Nazi, Actually crazy.
Generally, my biggest problem with this movie was that I overhyped it for myself. In the ten minutes between when I’d heard of it and when I decided to watch it, I’d already played out dozens of wonderfully bloody scenarios. Nothing that I came up with was featured on screen. I think I was expecting the eighties precursor to Saw. Instead, we’re given a slightly bloody, nipply Lifetime cautionary tale. Of the eight murders Gunther commits, only two are actually on screen.
So… Klaus Kinski. He is the real reason to tune in to this one. His performance is unsettling in the best possible way. Crawlspace is not quite a complete picture of his mental decline, Gunther isn’t in good shape when we meet him but it does offer a fairly satisfying look at a man finally parting with reality. I won’t actually say that I think his acting is spectacular, I honestly think this was Klaus being Klaus. Watch him and tell me you can’t picture him scooting around in his air ducts at home terrorizing his children.
Overall, I wasn’t terribly impressed with this one. I was generally bored and underwhelmed, which seems difficult to achieve in eighty minutes. That being said it is worth it to see Klaus in action. This one gets one and a half tongueless captives.
I had really high hopes for Crawlspace. I was thrilled stupid about it when I read the synopsis, but I was incredibly disappointed by the actual film. How could you possibly screw up a film about a crazy German Nazi who tortures people? Other than Klaus, the acting was sub-par at best and I wanted to see way more blood or guts. None of the female characters, even Lori, were memorable except the captive. Even without a tongue she was the best actress in the bunch. The death traps were pretty awesome though, even if the deaths were mostly off screen. I don’t think I will ever watch Crawlspace again, but I will also never forget it.
Klaus Kinski was the only redeemable part of the film and that’s only because he was terrifying in a quiet, creepy way. Even though he’s a murder; I’m more interested in the fact that he also plays Russian roulette by himself every day. He pulls the trigger at total of 6 times and lives to torture another day. So, I guess he is a suicidal sadomasochistic Nazi wannabe? How can someone that interesting have such boring things to say to his journal?
I don’t quite understand why there’s a side plot about a person he killed while he was a doctor, but it lead to my favorite death scene – the trap chair. I cringed for several minutes after that scene.
I ultimately wasn’t thrilled by this film and wouldn’t recommend it to others, but I was frightened by Klaus, so I give it two tongueless captives.
What the hell is a tequila milkshake?