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Crash (1996)

NC-17  |   |  Drama  |  21 March 1997 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 40,257 users   Metascore: 47/100
Reviews: 295 user | 111 critic | 22 from Metacritic.com

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.



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Complete credited cast:
Colin Seagrave
Yolande Julian ...
Airport Hooker
Cheryl Swarts ...
Vera Seagrave
Nicky Guadagni ...
Ronn Sarosiak ...
Man in Hanger
Alice Poon ...
Camera Girl


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. Written by Matt A. Knapp <mak8@le.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Love in the dying moments of the twentieth century. See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated NC-17 for numerous explicit sex scenes | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:





Release Date:

21 March 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Crash: Extraños placeres  »

Box Office


$9,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

ITL 1,372,969,000 (Italy) (15 November 1996)


$3,168,660 (USA) (18 April 1997)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (R-rated)

Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Director David Cronenberg claimed that the entire film was shot within a half hour of his house in Toronto, Canada. See more »


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. See more »


James Ballard: You should've gone to the funeral.
Catherine Ballard: I wish I had. They bury the dead so quickly. They should leave them lying around for months.
See more »


Featured in The Directors: The Films of David Cronenberg (1999) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

dangerously erotic work that changes years after seeing it
18 December 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

David Cronenberg's Crash was one of those "dirty" movies I more than likely wasn't supposed to rent let alone watch when the NC-17 cut first came into existence on video (and, if anything, the film was more than an eye-opener in my young teen state, going even further than I had seen at the time with Boogie Nights or Kids). But I didn't pay quite as much attention to the story as I should've, aside from the James Dean subplot (as I remembered it anyway, with Elias Koteas's character), and from the very dark atmosphere. It was almost TOO dark at the time, and I stayed away until recently when it was shown on TV late one night. Seeing it now I'm much more absorbed into the wretchedly but totally, sensually charged work by the actors and the crew, and Cronenberg's utmost trust and professionalism with both. It certainly has that effect on a first viewing of veering way too close into the soft-core boundaries, and even seems like the kind of thing that I used to see in that 'scandalous' section of mainstream adult films as a kid like Last Tango in Paris. But the psychology behind the characters ends up being more striking than anything, and like many of Cronenberg's films, the duality of man (and woman, apparently) comes strongly into play, and the merging of the two as usually becomes the case.

James Spader is in one of his very best performances- albeit only somewhat removed from the sexual deviants of Sex Lies & Videotape and Secretary (maybe closer to the latter, however without any of that film's outright satire)- as Ballard, also the author this film is based upon. He gets in a car accident, a horrible one, that kills a doctor and leaves his wife (Holly Hunter) injured both physically and psychologically. But Ballard and his wife (Deborah Kara Unger, very good as well) get brought into this strange world that's been built around Vaughn (Koteas, perhaps in one of his top 3 best pieces of work, very creepy but somehow convincing early on, at least to his new arrivals). He is a man who is completely enveloped into his psyche of car-crash sex, and how history ends up adding a mystique to it all (hence the James Dean references, which are very amusingly pathological). But this all becomes very dangerous, if only on some subversive level, when Ballard, his wife, and Hunter's Helen Remington get involved in this underground cult.

Seeing the film again, I'm a lot more struck this time after seeing other Cronenberg work how the style slips so amazingly into the content of the picture. The first time around, the style almost seemed to be just another side to the content, that it was obvious to have such a wild yet controlled technique, particularly for the sex &/or car crash scenes. This is as much a credit to Cronenberg's poetic touches to the material as it is to DP Peter Suschitzky and Howard Shore's music, which somehow rises above being too pornographic to being really touching. In fact, after seeing it again very late at night and not remembering the entire film, I may even need to see it again to let it all sink in. But really this won't be the case for all- the NC-17 rating isn't too unwarranted in this case, even if it's more a rating for the nature of the sexual contact and aggressiveness of the fetishism as opposed to something like the Dreamers where there was blatant nudity a lot of the time. I wouldn't dare recommend the R-rated version, however, as the whole point is to see it all in its un-tarnished view. It's a harsh vision painted here of people reaching out for some kind of connection through the most destructive way imaginable. One thing's for certain, once you've seen it there's no mistaking this from Paul Haggis's Crash (and, for me, this beats out Haggis's contrived good-intention machine any day).

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