Schlocktoberfest Day 6: Crawlspace

Crawlspace (1986)


*spoilers throughout!*

What’s it About: Dr. Karl Gunther isn’t a very good doctor. In fact, he’s horrible, as he tends to practice murder instead of medicine. Dr. Gunther owns an apartment building that is occupied by several sexy female tenants (well, most of them, one of them looks like a human-pig hybrid). Dr. Gunther, sly old fox that he is, spies on these lovely ladies via the widest and most weight-supportive system of air ducts known to man. As he admits in his journal, he used to kill in the name of science, now he kills because he’s addicted to it; he kills because it makes him feel alive. Basically he’s a Dr. Kevorkian type, complicated by the fact that his father was an evil Nazi doctor who experimented on and murdered Jews in World War II. So, not a strong parental upbringing. Oh, and he keeps a girl with her tongue cut out in a cage in his attic office so he has someone to talk to.

Dr. Gunther is not just a killer, but also a merry prankster, as evidenced when he’s duct-spying on four ladies sitting around having drinks and unleashes a rat into the room with a remote control that opens a big panel in the baseboard. Another time he taps on the duct metal to mess with one of the women’s gentleman callers. He also fancies a game of Russian roulette after killing, which is his version of penance. He even has a bullet with his name on it, which is a classy move.

There’s a subplot with a man who has tracked down Dr. Gunther and seeks vengeance because the good doctor murdered his brother, but (SPOILER) that goes absolutely NOWHERE.

Is it Actually Scary: Dr. Gunther really gives you the willies, and there’s a good sense of dread throughout. The ending when Dr. Gunther’s sanity really punches out is pretty effectively scary. It’s even more scary when you realize that Klaus Kinski actually was a Nazi for a brief time, and he possibly crawled around in an air duct and spied on women in an apartment building at some point.

Scariest Moment: The heroine runs from apartment to apartment and sees Dr. Gunther standing outside the window just staring at her each time. Based on real-life events involving Klaus Kinski.

Gore Level: You see some dismembered body parts and some impalements, but a lot of the gore is implied off-screen.

Dumbest Moments: The air vents that Dr. Gunther looks out of apparently work like one-way mirrors. Although his face is basically pressed right up against the vent opening from the inside, everyone is completely incapable of seeing him. Also, two people go into Dr. Gunther’s apartment just because they hear a clacking noise coming from it.

I am totally invisible!!

Best Part: One of Dr. Gunther’s victims is killed by a chair that shoots a metal spike into their rectum. Nothing gory is shown, but the implication is hideous. Rectum? It kills him!

Nudity: Not as much as you’d think in a movie about a guy who spies on an apartment building full of young women. In the first scene after the opening credits, a buxom beauty cuts holes in the front of her bra apparently just because she thinks it’s funny. But there’s nothing after that.

Overall: Klaus Kinski is very creepy, as he always was throughout his entire career. He can’t help it, that’s just the way his face looks. But this was one of his final pictures, and he seems to be phoning it in most of the time. The whole “evil Nazi” angle is pretty played out, and it’s not even really necessary; he could just be a crazy murderous doctor, period. The climax just starts happening all of a sudden, like a couple of minutes were cut out in the build-up. So the movie actually seems too short. It could have been better with another 20 minutes to build tension between the women and Dr. Gunther. And we see him testing murder and torture devices that he doesn’t even use. The movie is both original and completely unoriginal at the same time. But still, it’s not too bad. Kinski is a great casting choice and is totally effective in the role, even though he seems to be acting between naps. He’s creepy and sleepy!. It just needed to be longer, with some more happening on-screen instead of off.

Come on, the movie's not THAT bad...

My Wife’s Observational Quotes:
-“He’s such a cretin!”
-”Do people not see him in there?!”
-”She gets dumber and dumber, this broad.”

Score: 7.5 (out of 10)

2 thoughts on “Schlocktoberfest Day 6: Crawlspace

  1. Pingback: Schlocktoberfest: Recap of Horror! « Hard Ticket to Home Video

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