The greatest teen exploitation flick ever, 30 years later
September 23, 2009 9:26 PM   Subscribe

OVER THE EDGE: An Oral History of the Greatest Teen Rebellion Movie of All Time Vice Magazine gets Matt Dillon (it was his first movie) and a bunch of other cast and crew together for a detailed oral history of Kurt Cobain's favorite flick and "the Apocalypse Now of teen films." Buried by Orion on its original 1979 release, in part because of violence in theaters which had just shown The Warriors, it found a big cult following among kids with HBO in the early 80s. Co-writer Tim Hunter would later go on to direct River's Edge. posted by mediareport (36 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
This, along with the original Suburbia (featuring a young Michael Balzary aka Flea) were the VHS bibles of my rebellious teenage years.
posted by mediocre at 9:32 PM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]

Yes. Even without the big "Revenge of The Fifty Foot Teenage Angst" crescendo, Over the Edge is amazingly accurate in its pointed criticism of suburbia, i.e. that it's so fucking boring, man.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:38 PM on September 23, 2009

it's a darned good movie. I saw it way back when in its initial theatrical run. the key point: it's deliberately an "exploitation" film about angry, aimless youth gone wild. So don't be expecting Art.

What sets it apart is that the cast is uniformly young (ie: 14 year olds playing 14 year olds) and entirely believable. And the music's cool.
posted by philip-random at 9:49 PM on September 23, 2009

the trailer
posted by philip-random at 9:53 PM on September 23, 2009

Maybe this makes me sound incredibly naive and out-of-touch for a 26 year-old: but what makes something an "exploitation film" rather than, uh, a regular film?
posted by Avenger at 9:55 PM on September 23, 2009

As the VICE article points out, "exploitation" is a designation the filmmakers themselves put to it; it basically means they were out to "exploit" certain news issues of the day (bored teens trashing their suburbs) in the interest of selling movie tix, or as wikipedia puts it ...

Exploitation film is a type of film that is promoted by "exploiting" often lurid subject matter.
posted by philip-random at 10:02 PM on September 23, 2009

ah. thx.
posted by Avenger at 10:04 PM on September 23, 2009

There's a Portland ensemble known as DRATS!! who perform a pretty awesome rock opera based on this movie called "Welcome to New Granada" details available at their myspace I went to a show where I saw the movie followed by their performance and it was awe inspiring, hah.
posted by twjordan at 10:08 PM on September 23, 2009

what makes something an "exploitation film" rather than, uh, a regular film?

Basically, if a film depicts exactly what its audience wants to see (base lizard brain kind of stuff, like sex and violence, usually), the film is said to be "exploiting" its audience. Sexploitation, Blaxploitation, and so on.

A large portion of Over the Edge is--without spoiling anything--extremely satisfying to the teenaged lizard brain. Personally, though, I wouldn't call it an exploitation film so much as "FUCK YEAH!"
posted by Sys Rq at 10:09 PM on September 23, 2009

Holy crap!!

It's the FPP I was born to read!

Many thx!
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:24 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yeah, that midriff-baring shirt Dillon wore in Over The Edge (plus his tighty whities in Little Darlings) pretty much made me a suburban gay.
posted by WolfDaddy at 10:50 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

Interestingly, WolfDaddy, Dillon's dress was the first thing I thought of when I heard this was an "exploitation" film. Did anybody in wardrobe ever stop to ask themselves, "Hey, are we dressing this kid up to look like a cheap rentboy?"

And at least your suburban gay rather than the nastier cousins Urban Gay and Rural Gay.
posted by Avenger at 12:55 AM on September 24, 2009

"Warriors... come out to play-yay!"
posted by IvoShandor at 2:07 AM on September 24, 2009

Haven't seen Over the Edge though, thanks for the links.
posted by IvoShandor at 2:09 AM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Learning about Long Jeanne Silver by reading that article is either the absolute best or unquestionaby worst thing that's happened to me in about a month.
posted by Shepherd at 2:57 AM on September 24, 2009

I was a very sheltered 12 y.o. in 1979 and my parents didn't get HBO until last month, so I never got to see this in the "fuck yeah" phase of my life... in fact, I don't think I've ever seen it. But River's Edge is one of my favorite movies. It is just so WEIRD: Crispin Glover + Dennis Hopper + Keanu + that kid who played the little brother who I swore grew up to be Adam Duritz from Counting Crows (not true). Heading over to Netflix...
posted by Sweetie Darling at 3:18 AM on September 24, 2009

Avenger: as I was 14 in 1979, I can assure you that many teenage boys did indeed dress like that. Throw in gym shorts that barely covered one's goodies and showering after gym in high school was almost anticlimactic.

posted by WolfDaddy at 4:28 AM on September 24, 2009

I love that movie. Thanks, mediareport.
posted by box at 5:14 AM on September 24, 2009

It was a great source of frustration that my teen rebellion had zero oral history attached.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 5:34 AM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

And the Wipers kick-ass song from 1982: Over the Edge
posted by grounded at 5:56 AM on September 24, 2009

I saw this when I was 11. Man, I couldn't wait to be 14.
posted by Sailormom at 5:59 AM on September 24, 2009

Oh, man. That speed I took? I think it was ACID!
posted by dirtdirt at 6:11 AM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Tim Hunter is also the director of a lot of TV -- really great shows like Twin Peaks, Mad Men, The Sopranos, Carnivale, Homicide, um...Falcon Crest...and others. I've never seen (or heard of) this movie; thanks for the post!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:21 AM on September 24, 2009

Mat Dillion in mid-drift and now I am in a happy place.
posted by The Whelk at 6:37 AM on September 24, 2009

oh awesome. I loved this movie. Some truly, truly amazing dialogue. finding the soundtrack on vinyl (RIP Safe as Milk Records) was such a massive thrill. I may just have to listen to it again. For those who haven't seen it, i thoroughly encourage you to check it out. It's like a teen version of Easy Rider.
posted by dubold at 7:32 AM on September 24, 2009

Is this that movie where Ad Rock from the Beastie Boys was a graffiti artist from Orange County or something and then he gets sent to a reform school or something? What movie am I thinking of? Cuz I thought that was a pretty quintessential teen angxt-ploitation movie.
posted by spicynuts at 7:41 AM on September 24, 2009

Lost Angels. Answered my own question.
posted by spicynuts at 7:42 AM on September 24, 2009

I first saw this movie when I was in elementary school on cable, so it was REALLY mindblowing.

Spoiler Alert:
This may sound cold, but the most hilariously bad moment of the film is when Matt Dillon gets shot. He makes this face like he is anticipating it and it looks ridiculously fake in stark contrast to the serious tone of the rest of the film.
posted by dancingfruitbat at 7:44 AM on September 24, 2009

Anyone see this White Line Fever movie that the director did in '75?
posted by spicynuts at 8:10 AM on September 24, 2009

Wow -- I grew up in Foster City, CA, between 1968 - 1982 (when I went away to go to college). My folks still live there and I live nearby, so it's still local. It was every bit as over-planned and empty in the 1970's as mentioned in the article. I was only 7 or 8 when the "Mousepack" vandalism occurred, but it was probably the older brothers and sisters of friends and such that were the shit disturbers. I remember it happening, and it being discussed around the dinner table, but I had no idea it caused any reverberation outside of Foster City, much less inspired this movie.

What's really weird is that I saw this movie on cable sometime in the late-80's/early 90's, and thought, "Wow, that sure reminds me of growing up in Foster City -- I can totally understand that angst, and that sense of being trapped in a flavorless suburb."

The world is a damn small place at times.
posted by mosk at 9:24 AM on September 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

Anthropologically fascinating as the kids depicted in this were 10 years younger than I was. Until 6 years ago I'd never visited a "housing development" in suburbia and didn't understand how suffocatingly tedious, lonely, fearful and rigid they can be.

By 1979 -age 25- I was already 4 years living in India, in the Himalayas, cut off from any television or contemporary Western culture and had no idea what the next generation of teens was up to in the West until I heard Roxanne one day at a friend's house in Manali, punk rage, and knew I wasn't in Kansas any more, that "peace and love" were over.

Interesting to see Matt Dillon as a young teen. He had scapegoat, trouble-maker written all over him. It's no wonder he was repeatedly typecast as that.

Haven't watched all the segments yet. Am savoring each one. So surprising this movie didn't take off like a rocket. Nice post. Thanks mediareport.
posted by nickyskye at 9:46 AM on September 24, 2009

Oh damn, one of my favorite movies EVER! I watched this over and over and over as a kid (and will definitely treat myself to a repeat viewing soon). Mmmmmatt Dillon.

"What's on that belt buckle?"
"It's a leaf"
"What kind?"
"Poison Ivy."
posted by medeine at 9:49 AM on September 24, 2009

When I first saw this movie I thought it was filmed in my neighborhood. Then I found out how many neighborhoods look like this.
posted by swift at 10:23 AM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'd never heard of this until now, I'm amazed to say. The big one for us growing up (aside from Repo Man, of course) was Penelope Spheeris' Suburbia.
Interestingly enough, this quote from the Wiki article, "Vincent Canby called it (...) "probably the best teen-agers-in-revolt movie since Jonathan Kaplan's Over the Edge."" makes me want to se it even more.
posted by Zack_Replica at 12:02 PM on September 24, 2009

Wow, thanks for the memories. I must've watched that movie fifteen or twenty times before the age of ten (thank you HBO). And I think this is the first time I've watched an entire feature length film on Youtube.
posted by Jim Slade at 5:16 PM on September 26, 2009

spicynuts: White Line Fever is great. Jan-Michael Vincent really puts it to the man.
posted by jjwiseman at 8:31 PM on October 6, 2009

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