Crash (1996) Is the Pick of the Week

Cinema Sentries

When you think of legendary director David Cronenberg, you picture highly original works of twisted horror and scientific madness. Whether it’s Shivers (his film debut), The Brood, Scanners, Videodrome, The Fly, among others, you’re bound to experience content, themes, and characters you’ve never seen before. The kinky 1996 cult masterpiece, Crash, arguably his most explicit outing, is definitely no exception.

Adapted from author J.G. Ballard’s future-shock novel from the ’70s, the film stars James Spader, Deborah Kara Unger, and Holly Hunter as an insubordinate commercial producer, his coolly nonchalant wife, and a mysterious doctor, who are brought together after a traffic accident. Under odd circumstances, they are lured into a disturbing and extremely erotic underworld full of fetishists (including Rosanna Arquette and Elias Koteas) who are turned on by bloodshed, torn flesh, and car crashes. Let’s just say that they want to do more to cars than just wash them.

Obviously, this type of subject matter would not suit most directors, but Cronenberg more than stepped up to the plate. It’s not just about sex and violence with him; it’s more about how our most sinister desires can push us to the breaking point, where humanity usually comes second (or last) to technology (and its aftereffects). That’s typical of Cronenberg, to turn our sexuality against us, but we love him all the more for it.

Film buffs in the UK may have a stacked release from Arrow, but at least we in the U.S. have our own edition, courtesy of Criterion. It has a really risque new cover and a new 4K digital restoration, but also has supplements, such as a 1997 audio commentary with Cronenberg; a press conference from the 1996 Cannes Film Festival featuring Cronenberg, cinematographer Peter Suschitzky, author Ballard, producers Robert Lantos and Jeremy Thomas, and actors Arquette, Hunter, Koteas, Spader, and Unger; a 1996 Q&A with Croneberg and Ballard at the National Film Theatre in London; behind-the-scenes footage and press interviews from 1996, and trailers. There is also a new essay by film critic Jessica Kiang.

If you’re a true Cronenberg enthusiast, as well as a fan of bizarre cinema, then this release should really make a wonderful addition to your collection!

Other releases:

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: Peter Jackson’s justly celebrated blockbuster trilogy gets 4K upgrade, in the forms of standard, steelbook, and giftset editions.

Trading Places (Limited Edition): The remastered edition of John Landis’ 1983 comedy classic starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy as an upper-crust executive and a homeless hustler who become subjects of a bet by successful brokers (Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy). The roles of Aykroyd and Murphy’s characters are reversed, where Murphy is the executive and Aykroyd is the hustler. When both discover the bet, they plan a hilarious revenge.

Beverly Hills Cop (4K UHD): Murphy stars as a smartass Detroit cop pursuing a murder investigation, who is thrust into Beverly Hills where he deals with its culture and attitudes.

Coming to America (4K UHD): Another Murphy classic where he plays an extremely privileged African prince who travels to Queens, New York, to find a wife in order to evade an arranged marriage.

The Rental (Scream Factory): Actor Dave Franco makes his directorial debut with this horror thriller where two couples rent a vacation home for what they thought would be a peaceful weekend getaway, as it turns out to be anything but.


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