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
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
Deborah Kara Unger
Man in Hanger
John Stoneham Jr.
Life is a highway
Fine Line Features |
Release Date: 21 March 1997
Filming Locations: North York, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $738,779
(23 March 1997)
(20 April 1997)
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.
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.
[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…
An anti-erotic exploration of the hollowness of modern life
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
us that it is not.