Friday, October 8, 2010

Crawlspace (1986)

Klaus Kinski was obviously close to the end of his life when this absurd late-eighties horror hack job was put together. Directed by David Schmoeller--of Puppetmaster fame--it's the story of Dr. Karl Gunther, a former Nazi Officer hiding in urban America that still can't resist the urge to stalk and torture.

Gunther owns an apartment building that's wired and booby trapped to the hilt. He spies on his young female tenants by cavorting the air ducts, gazing at them through the vents, sometimes releasing rats into their rooms by remote control. He has headquartered himself in the attic with his Nazi propaganda films, torture device collection and a small, pasty Boo Radley-type boy trapped in a cage (?). As each tenant catches on to his wiles Gunther offs them with one of his toys.

The best scenes occur after each killing when Gunther ritualistically plays Russian roulette in his kitchen as a sort of haphazard penance. If the pistol doesn't blow his brains out he smirks in that diabolical Kinski way. Fate will let him continue; that is until one tenant played by Talia Balsam (of Mad Men fame) engages him in a fast-paced air duct chase that will blow your mind.

Tough to find a trailer for this one but there is a very fun short film made by Schmoeller regarding his experience working with the ever "difficult" Kinski. It's named after the motto incessantly repeated by the shooting crew throughout production:

"Please Kill Mr. Kinski"

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