March 21st, 1997


more trailers Crash

Still of Rosanna Arquette in CrashDavid Cronenberg in CrashStill of Deborah Kara Unger in CrashStill of Holly Hunter in CrashStill of James Spader and Deborah Kara Unger in CrashStill of James Spader and Deborah Kara Unger in Crash

After getting into a serious car accident, a TV director discovers an underground sub-culture of scarred, omnisexual car-crash victims who use car accidents and the raw sexual energy they produce to try to rejuvenate his sex life with his wife.

Release Year: 1996

Rating: 6.2/10 (25,576 voted)

Critic's Score: 47/100

Director: David Cronenberg

Stars: James Spader, Holly Hunter, Elias Koteas

Since a road accident left him with serious facial and bodily scarring, a former TV scientist has become obsessed by the marriage of motor-car technology with what he sees as the raw sexuality of car-crash victims. The scientist, along with a crash victim he has recently befriended, sets about performing a series of sexual acts in a variety of motor vehicles, either with other crash victims or with prostitutes whom they contort into the shape of trapped corpses. Ultimately, the scientist craves a suicidal union of blood, semen, and engine coolant, a union with which he becomes dangerously obsessed.

Writers: J.G. Ballard, David Cronenberg

James Spader - James Ballard
Holly Hunter - Helen Remington
Elias Koteas - Vaughan
Deborah Kara Unger - Catherine Ballard
Rosanna Arquette - Gabrielle
Peter MacNeill - Colin Seagrave
Yolande Julian - Airport Hooker
Cheryl Swarts - Vera Seagrave
Judah Katz - Salesman
Nicky Guadagni - Tattooist
Ronn Sarosiak - A.D.
Boyd Banks - Grip
Markus Parilo - Man in Hanger
Alice Poon - Camera Girl
John Stoneham Jr. - Trask

Taglines: Life is a highway


Official Website: Fine Line Features |

Release Date: 21 March 1997

Filming Locations: North York, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Box Office Details

Budget: $9,000,000(estimated)

Opening Weekend: $738,779 (USA) (23 March 1997) (339 Screens)

Gross: $3,168,660 (USA) (20 April 1997)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  | (R-rated version)

Did You Know?

Holly Hunter got a part in the film because she had been lobbying David Cronenberg for the opportunity to work with him for years.

Continuity: After Vaughan repeatedly crashes the left front bumper of his Lincoln into a junker James Ballard is sitting in, causing major damage to the bumper and the lights, Vaughan is soon shown driving on the highway with no damage to the bumper and both left lights operational.

Vaughan: [talking into microphone as he walks around the car] Don't worry. That guy's gotta see us. Don't worry. That guy's gotta see us... These were the confident last words of the brilliant, young Hollywood star James Dean as he piloted his Porsche 550 Spyder race car toward a date with death along a lonely stretch of California two-lane blacktop Route 466...

User Review

An anti-erotic exploration of the hollowness of modern life

Rating: 10/10

Crash is a very sexually explicit film, but if you buy or rent this movie expecting it to be an evening's erotic entertainment, you are going to be disappointed, because it is also an anti-erotic film.

Even in the midst of frenzied lovemaking, the characters remain distant, their voices quiet and abstracted, their gazes directed inward. These are people who have been told all their lives by their culture, by TV and movies, that sex is, on the one hand, the most perfect form of communion and connection with another human being; and, on the other hand, that it is the ultimate in transcendent and transformative experiences. Instead, they discover to their horror that even during sex they still feel nothing. They crave connection, they are starved for a glimpse of transcendence, but no matter what they do, no matter who they do it with or how often, while their bodies may feel passion, their minds and hearts remain cold and empty.

In the more recent movie Pleasantville, the Jennifer/Mary Sue character is unable to feel anything either, and remains stubbornly black and white no matter how much sex she has, until her brother suggests that "maybe it isn't the sex" that is the key to moving from black and white to color, from passionlessness to feeling. Unfortunately, in Crash, there is no one to suggest to David and Catherine Ballard that maybe it isn't through sex that they will find the transformation and connection they are craving. So they instead seek more and more extreme forms of sexual stimulation, only to be disappointed again and again.

James is hurt in a car crash, and during his stay in the hospital he meets Helen (who was in the other car) and later Vaughan, a man who like James and Catherine is in desperate search of feeling, only he looks for it in the violence of car crashes. With Helen, at first James, then Catherine too is drawn into Vaughan's world, where sex and death (eros and thanatos for you Freudians) meet in the twisted metal of wrecked cars and the mutilated bodies of the victims of fatal car crashes and the survivors of near-fatal ones.

They attend staged recreations of famous car crashes, like the one that killed James Dean. They have sex in crashed cars, and start touring crash sites on the freeway as a form of foreplay. They begin to watch films of crash tests and fatal race accidents like other people would watch erotic films, and to have sex with people whose bodies have been mutilated by car crashes.

But not even the horror of mutilation or the adrenaline rush of near-death experience can lend James and Catherine's desperate coupling the depth of feeling that they so desperately crave.

Like all the people who buy expensive automobiles to give them a feeling of power and independence, only to discover that no matter how snazzy their car is, they still feel powerless and unhappy, James and Catherine have bought into one of our culture's Big Lies, that sex is the answer. This film shows us that it is not.