Crawlspace (1972) – By Duane L. Martin

 There were a lot of television movies made in the 70’s that were like suspence / horror type films.  Most people, and even I admittedly, believed these movies to be generally lame and crappy.  I recently however received two films to review from Wild Eye Releasing that showed me how wrong I was.  The other film, The Devil’s Daughter, is also reviewed in this issue, but for right now, I’m going to tell you about a genuinely weird and somewhat creepy film called Crawlspace.

Crawlspace is about a retired couple who have some service done on their furnace by a young guy who then basically sticks around for an awkward dinner after he bascially looks pathetic enough to get them to invite him.  After he leaves, they later discover that he’s been living in the crawlspace in their basement.  He’s homeless, he’s weird, and he’s nuts, but they start kinda taking care of him and treating him like the son they were never able to have.  It’s like pulling teeth to get him to come out of the crawlspace though.  He does come out occasionally, but he always seems incredibly uncomfortable.  They come to discover that taking him in was a mistake however, as they essentially become prisoners in their own house because of it.  See, he’s taken a liking to them, and he does lots of work around the place and he’ll mess up anyone who messes with them, but he also doesn’t want them to ever leave him alone.

After some trouble at the general store in town, which leads the guy to go back and trash the place, they’re constantly hassled by the local sheriff and by some punk teenagers who caused the problems in the first place.  See, one of them worked at the store and totally screwed with him and stole his $20 the people gave him to go get them some groceries.  That’s what led him to go back and trash the place.  The couple covers for him, but things just keep getting worse and worse until they finally end up having to kill him.  Unfortunately, the kindly old man has a heart attack as he’s killing the guy, so they both ended up dead.  The whole thing was pretty messed up.

For a cheap 70′ TV movie, this one really sucks you in.  The acting is surprisingly good, and Tom Harper who played Richard, the creepy guy in the crawlspace, did just an amazing job of coming off as slightly retarded and full on weird.  I’m not sure if he was supposed to be somewhat retarded or just nuts, but whatever it was, he did it up right.  Hell, when they finally got him to come out of the crawlspace after months of bringing him food and stuff, he had a beard and his hair was all shaggy.  He looked like a funky caveman!

The movie has that cheap, faded color that seems to be typical of so many movies like this that were made in the 70’s.  I’m not sure what it was about the 70’s that caused the movies to come out looking like that, but from what I can remember, they always looked like that.  I don’t think it was specifically an aging film thing or whatever.  When I was growing up and I’d see these kinds of movies on television, they seem to have always looked like that.  It’s no big deal, but it was just something I’ve noticed after seeing so many of these films from that era.

Crawlspace is a very creepy film that builds slowly and really kinda keeps you wondering what’s going to happen next.  In a way you kinda feel bad for Richard, the crawlspace guy, but at the same time you can’t help but be captivated by what a weirdo he is.

Movies like this would probably be lost or fade into obscurity if not for great companies like Wild Eye who keep them alive for future generations to enjoy.  They release more than just old TV movies like this, so be sure to check out their whole catalog at http://www.wildeyereleasing.com.