CRAWLSPACE (1986) Reviews and overview




Crawlspace is a 1986 horror thriller feature film starring Klaus Kinski as Karl Guenther, the crazed son of a Nazi doctor, who is psychotically obsessed with using an air duct to spy on, trap and then slowly torture young women to death.

The film was produced by Roberto Bessi, written and directed by David Schmoeller (Tourist Trap) and also stars Talia Balsam, Barbara Whinnery, Carole Francis, Tane McClure and Sally Brown.



Karl Guenther (Klaus Kinski) is an apparently conscientious landlord who looks out for his young and attractive tenants. Jessica (Carole Francis), the rising young soap opera star, Harriet (Barbara Whinnery), a sensuous and vivacious secretary, Sophie (Tane McClure), an accomplished pianist who enjoys wild affairs with her boyfriend, and Lori (Talia Balsam), a young college student who has just moved in a recently “vacated” apartment: all live in Karl’s well-kept apartments.

The only discord is the “tap, tap, tap” sound at night from the crawlspace above their rooms. Karl tells them it’s only rats, but in reality it is Karl spying on them. One by one, the tenants (and a war crimes hunter named Josef Steiner), become his victims… each one put to a gruesome test. Only Lori remains alive to disclose the diabolical Karl…


If the idea of Klaus Kinski crawling around in the recesses of your house doesn’t chill you to the bone then you’ve probably come to the wrong website. Naturally, he was a nightmare on-set, as director, David Schmoeller, recalls:

“Oh, I have a lot of stories about directing [him]. I don’t know if I can get away with saying things for print that I would really like to say. He’s really out of control as a human being, and that creates a lot of problems on the set. He wouldn’t show up, or he would leave, or he would just… well, he got into fist fights with the crew from the very first day. It was sad, because he really does have a lot of talent, and ultimately did give himself to the role. But he just made it very unpleasant for everybody”.

Kinski Uncut Klaus autobiography

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Crawlspace is throughly enjoyable and is one of Kinski’s most immediately accessible films. It was very popular amidst the vast video rental market of the 1980s. The film is entirely Kinski’s, the character’s dementedness being completely suited to the iconic actor.

The distinctive score was composed by Pino Donaggio, a stalwart of the Italian film music world but one of the few who broke into Hollywood with the likes of Carrie and Dressed to Kill.

Daz Lawrence, MOVIES and MANIA


New Audio Commentary by director David Schmoeller
“Please Kill Mr. Kinski” –- a short film by David Schmoeller
Interview with Make-up effects artist John Vulich
Theatrical Trailer

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