Karl Guenther (Klaus Kinski) is the son of a
Nazi doctor who runs an apartment house full of women. When
he's not spying on the ladies from the ventilation ducts, Karl
builds death traps and puts rats in their rooms. Karl is addicted
to killing and bares his soul to a woman he keeps in a cage.
He knows she won't reveal his murderous secrets because he cut
out her tongue.
Crawlspace works well as a slasher. There's
a decent body count, bits of human anatomy kept in medical jars,
and a little kinky sex for the guys in the audience. The death
traps are creative but most of the cast is weak. None of this
really matters. Klaus Kinski's performance is the real reason
to watch Crawlspace.
By this point in his career, Kinski had stopped
playing characters and started playing himself for every role.
Kinski would also "help" his directors finish films by telling
them the right way scenes should be shot. I won't go into detail
about Kinski's behavior towards his female co-stars, but I'm
sure most of them are still seeing a therapist every week to
help them forget.
The making of Crawlspace was such a troubled
production that director David Schmoeller made a documentary
short called Please Kill Mr. Kinski! An Italian producer decided
Kinski wasn't worth the trouble, better to kill him for the
insurance money. Schmoeller objected to this plan, he needed
Kinski alive to complete Crawlspace. By the end of shooting,
the cast and crew were begging to kill Kinski.
It's difficult to watch Crawlspace as
just another slasher. The presence of Klaus Kinski makes the
story pointless. Kinski is the story. There are no other actors
in the cast, just puppets for Kinski to play with. Schmoeller's
contribution to the script and directing is of little value.
The only man who could direct Klaus Kinski is Klaus Kinski.