316 user 132 critic

Crash (1996)

NC-17 | | Drama | 21 March 1997 (USA)
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.


David Cronenberg


J.G. Ballard (novel), David Cronenberg
1,314 ( 316)
9 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »





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


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


Life is a highway See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The film was voted the #1 movie of 1996 by "Les Cahiers du Cinéma." 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: Do you see Kennedy's assassination as a special kind of car crash?
Vaughan: The case could be made.
See more »

Alternate Versions

A sequence with Ballard and Helen on a car follows the previous. There's a shot of her on top of him, facing the camera and with some frontal nudity (very dark). She then asks "did you come?", and he answers "I'm OK". The continuous cut starts on the end of the "attack", mentioned on the previous entry, and ends with the couple finishing to dress up, side by side on the car. Altogether more than 4 minutes are missing. See more »


Spoofed in The Adam and Joe Show: Episode #2.4 (1997) See more »

User Reviews

A daring film that didn't quite work
26 July 2006 | by tomq5pSee all my reviews

"Crash" had a lot of potential. I feel like I can criticize it harshly because I am a Cronenberg fan and this was nowhere close to his best work. The themes (sexual "deviance," violence, obsession) that Cronenberg was exploring are very relevant to today's post-modern society. However, this film didn't get the message across. Supposedly the book by James Ballard deals more with our obsession with fame and celebrities; that was not dealt with in the film and it should have been. It would have resulted in a more coherent piece of art. As you watch the movie, you feel like a kid watching late-night TV and stumbling upon something "dirty" that you know you aren't supposed to see. That's about it. As an adult, you know that there is supposed to be symbolism, an underlying metaphor or allegory, but the viewer is never really let in on the secret. Instead, we see a lot of strange sex scenes, car crashes and empty dialogue. I wanted to like this film, but it was boring, a little pretentious, and left me wanting more substance.

4 out of 10

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Canada | UK


English | Swedish

Release Date:

21 March 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Crash See more »


Box Office


$9,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$738,339, 6 October 1996

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (R-rated)

Sound Mix:

Dolby | SDDS | Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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