Crash - the 1996 David Cronenberg film

I saw this movie the other day and liked it so much that I wrote a review of it, which I posted on Facebook:

A SEXUAL FETISH FOR AUTOMOBILE CRASHES. People fucking in cars. The guy who played Casey Jones in the Ninja Turtles movies being sodomized. A woman in metal leg braces having her scars licked during sex.

These are some of the things that happen in the movie “Crash.”

But NOT the “Crash” that came out in 2004, otherwise known as “Trash.” Or, “horseshit,” or “stupid cliched preachy racial moralistic tale.”

No, the “Crash” that I’m talking about was released in 1996, directed by David Cronenberg, the genius who gave us Scanners, Videodrome, The Fly, The Dead Zone, and A History of Violence. A true master of surreal horror, Cronenberg is our generation’s Alfred Hitchcock - a man who can create tension and terror in his movies simply with his choice of camera angles, lighting, and softly-spoken dialog, but is also completely capable of showing us the most gory, graphic, brutal violence ever. Cronenberg’s films usually center around disease, mutation, disfigurement,or strange sexual perversions. In the case of “Crash,” it is the latter two.

After a car accident which kills the driver of the other car, Ballard (James Spader) watches the female passenger who he hit expose her breast to him. The experience causes him to develop a sexual fetish for car accidents, and he winds up meeting the woman who he hit later - it turns out she also has the same fetish, and they wind up creating this whole lifestyle based around car crashes and fucking. His wife is drawn into it as well, and they meet a wacky cast of characters, most notably Vaughan (Elias Koteas, AKA Casey Jones from the Ninja Turtles movies.) Vaughan is a psychopathic yet charming creep who is scarred all over from a motorcycle accident - including his penis - and devotes his life to watching and documenting car crashes, and causing them, for the purposes of sexual gratification. Gabrielle, another crash fetishist, has her legs and upper body enclosed in protective metal braces from a previous injury. All of these characters spend the whole movie, basically, fucking each other in cars while driving recklessly and/or crashing.

“Crash” completely fulfills its purpose in shattering open all of our ideas of normality or stability in life, exposing a bizarre and twisted underside. It demonstrates man’s reliance on technology and machines, and his resulting emotional and sexual attachment to them. It shows how people, having grown cold and distant, can turn to the most outlandish and deviant sexual practices to get their thrills, at the expense of all their dignity. But overall, it’s just an amazingly atmospheric, surreal and creepy movie, with a great soundtrack by Howard Shore.

So if you watch a movie called “Crash,” make sure it’s the one by David Cronenberg, and not the piece of shit trash that won the academy award in 2005. They should have re-released Cronenberg’s “Crash” and then given IT the academy award, for every single category, including “best movie to have a nameless Asian woman get fucked on a desk,” “best movie to have the guy that played Casey Jones in the Ninja Turtles movies get sodomized,” and “best supporting actor.”

Alright, I know that review is a little silly. On a more serious note, has anyone else here seen that film? How did you like it?

I liked 'em both YMMV

I saw it at a drive-in.

I really like the movie, but I don’t think I’ll ever watch it again.

When I realized

that he was fucking Gabrielle’s scar in her thigh I think my brain broke a little bit.

The thing is, for every thing that skeeved me out, I can think of something about the movie that I really liked. Plus, I love Spader. And I really love the dynamic between Spader and his lover she can only come when he fucks her, and she is the only woman he can make orgasm. He can’t satisfy anybody else he has sex with. It adds a raw edge of tension to their relationship that is utterly fascinating to me.

I think it’s a kind of masterpiece, but the book–which is very, very different–is an even greater masterpiece. One of the greatest works of the 20th Century, fyask me.

James Spader has this incredibly passive-looking, childlike face, which was really perfect for this movie because it made his character seem very innocent, like some confused kid “along for the ride” with all these crazy characters.

And his wife (Deborah Kara Unger) has this really icy, mysterious look to her, with almost menacingly-arched eyebrows and a coldly detached attitude.

Elias Koteas really steals the show though, IMO.

I definitely liked Cronenberg’s version of Crash better. Classic creepy movie with a stellar cast. Roles like this were made for James Spader. I thought Holly Hunter was terrific too.

I really hated it, to be perfectly honest. It didn’t strike me as ‘‘deep’’ or ‘‘atmospheric,’’ just dumb. Really, really dumb. I don’t remember it well enough to give it any well thought-out criticism beyond that – I just remember being alternately bored and kinda squicked out.

I know a lot of people who feel this way, but I really liked it. It’s such a lurid story, and so easy to mess up, that I’m always amazed that Cronenburg pulls it off. It had a quality where you were disgusted, but couldn’t help looking. Kind of like…
I have become, against my will, a Cronenburg fanatic. I just saw Eastern Promises on its last day at the third run theatre a couple weeks ago. I missed the opening credits, and had no idea what it was about. About 15 minutes in, I said “Is this Cronenburg?”

Loved it.

The scene with Holly Hunter early in the film is one of the sexiest things in movies.

I like the '96, but then I also liked Naked Lunch. The surreal aspect of these movies is just so different from some of the cookie cutter films.

Ditto what Zebra said. I think this was the first time I’d seen Holly Hunter expose anything, and the way it seems accidental…just not quite wholely accidental.

Major bitch: HBO, who has such wholesome fare as “Real Sex”, edited out a lot of the film. Like where Spader is recounting his sexual encounter with Koteas to Unger. Gone. Lots of other minor parts. So if you see it, rent it. Don’t watch the crap HBO would have you think was the movie.

Showtime doesn’t edit it, though.

I’m assuming they also cut the part where Catherine reaches up and grabs the back of the front seat after being fucked by Vaughan, her hand slimy with semen, and leaves a big shiny stain on the dark leather.

Rented it years ago and loved it. I found it extremely disturbing and erotic at the same time. It was the audition tape that made me cast Holly Hunter in some fantasies, as well.

I also liked the 2004 Crash, for what it’s worth.

This Crash is a fascinating film, rather than a good one. I think is difference is important.

The other Crash is a fine film, in a very different way. I wasn’t at all unhappy when it won the Oscar.

If you like the movie, you should check out the original novel by J. G. Ballard. Or better yet, some of his weirder short fiction like Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan or The Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Considered as a Downhill Motor Race … .