Review by: Mountain Monkey
SCUM Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Over the past couple of years, Scream Factory — an offshoot of American film distributor Shout! Factory — has steadily been releasing remastered horror classics on Blu-ray. It’s recently been diving into the bountiful basket of 80s cult flicks, which is a great excuse to view (or for us oldies, revisit) movies like Crawlspace in glorious HD.
Set in an anonymous apartment block (presumably mid-80s New York, where you could let your freak flag fly), the film centers around creepy landlord Karl Gunther (Klaus Kinski). Gunther lets his apartments out to a steady stream of young ladies, who puzzlingly seem charmed by his manic stares. Gunther, of course, has a very dark secret — formally a doctor in Argentina and son of a Nazi war criminal, Gunther brutally murdered 67 of his patients in Buenos Aires, on the pretext that they died of natural causes.
No one suspects Gunther’s past, and he passes his days dressing up as a Nazi and crawling around the apartment block’s ventilation shafts ogling at the young ladies (hence the film’s title). That is, until Gunther leases a vacant apartment out to an inquisitive journalism student, Lori Bancroft (Talia Balsam); Lori fortuitously meets Josef Steiner (Kenneth Robert Shippy), who suspects Gunther murdered his brother and other patients in Buenos Aires.
Part voyeuristic, part slasher-flick, Crawlspace is an interesting mash-up that is held together by Klinski’s quiet but eerie performance. After the heights of his collaborations with Werner Herzog, one couldn’t help but feel that Kinski’s talent was simply too big for a straight-forward horror-thriller like Crawlspace. Indeed, with the exception of Talia Balsam, the other actors seem rather one-dimensional when placed next to Kinski. But then again, Crawlspace was not meant to be an art house film, and delivers a decent ride as a horror-thriller.
To experience Klaus Kinski in full-form, do check out Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), which will be released by Shout! Factory on Blu-ray in May 2014.