memories of the ’70s – Over the Edge

A film about teenage gangs based on a newspaper feature may not have gotten a lot of notice, but its significant for being the debut role for young actor Matt Dillon in Over the Edge.

This coming of age drama was released in May 1979, timed for the summer movie market. The story centers around Carl (Michael Kramer) who with his pals Richie (Dillon) and Claude (Tom Fergus) are young teens who hang around the local recreation center.

But their lives are boring until they witness Mark (Vincent Spano) shoot cars from an overpass with a BB gun and blame them. Carl takes the blame and gets beaten up and taunted by Mark, which results in Carl and his pals stealing weapons, shooting guns and vandalizing in their local suburban community.

As they progress with their bad behaviour, the rec center director Julia (Julia Pomeroy) tries to help them, but they focus on getting back at Mark, and attracting the attention of Cory (Pamela Ludwig). As the story spirals and makes them into the instigators, the boys band together to attract their parents’ attention in a desperate, violent way.

Based on  newspaper feature of delinquent teens in a suburban community near San Francisco, the film has achieved cult status in its depiction of 1970s teens affected by parental judgement, drugs, alcohol and sexual frustration.

Fueled by a soundtrack that included Van Halen, Little Feat, Jimi Hendrix, Cheap Trick, The Cars and The Ramones, the film unfortunately didn’t get wide release, but had a lasting effect on several who saw it – including the rumour that the film influenced Kurt Cobain in writing Smells like Teen Spirit.


About Waheeda Harris

A pop culture junkie with a penchant for exploring our planet.
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