In 1979, two films were released that addressed the growing concerns over youth violence, vandalism and crime. One of them became a cult classic, a rite of passage movie that adorns lists and recommendations everywhere, the other disappeared into obscurity. While most film fans will know of Walter Hill’s The Warriors, fewer will know of Jonathan Kaplan’s Over The Edge. And that’s a shame.
Transferring the issues with inner city violence to the suburbs, rather than gangs we are introduced to an unruly group of children who spend their time when they aren’t in school at the only place the town planners have provided for them: a rec centre. Despite promises of a bowling alley and a drive in, the vacant lots nearby are being sold to developers for industrial building works, and various parts of the housing estate of New Granada remain unfinished, providing additional hideouts and meeting places for the local kids. Most of the parents are absent and uninterested, and the local law enforcement has no idea how to manage the escalating behaviour of the bored teenagers.
These are middle class families, but they are faced with the same issues of drugs, drinking and vandalism as elsewhere. Even “good kids” are being swept up by the peer pressure and lack of options associated with having nothing else to do.
Carl (Michael Eric Kramer) is a good kid, but escalating conflicts between his friend Richie (Matt Dillon) and the local cop Doberman (Harry Northup) leave him on the run and in hiding. A meeting at the school between parents, teachers and Doberman triggers a violent response from their friends, and things escalate into an explosive finale. The lack of respect between all parties escalates, and the violent response from the teens is chilling; guns, explosives, you name it. These kids have little understanding of the consequences of their actions or the adult support to help them manage their choices.
Over The Edge is a worthy addition to the genre, sitting comfortably alongside The Warriors and Coppola’s classic S.E. Hinton Adaptations The Outsiders and Rumble Fish. The naïvety of childhood is realistic and chilling, and the film boasts worthy performances from its leads, a great rock soundtrack and some stunning cinematography. Dillon (sporting a beautiful crop top in parts) and Kramer are the highlight, with charmingly un-annoying performances from their supporting cast.
The bonus features are evidential of their production period, but considering the restrictions, they are informative and compelling. With a long documentary formulated of zoom style interviews with various crew members discussing their position on the Hollywood scene at the time (many were blacklisted due to their left wing politics) and the issues they faced during production. A real treat is ‘Welcome To New Granada’ a “Rock Operatta” by DRATT!!! which was inspired by the film. It’s an enjoyable punky prog collection of songs about various characters; the lyrics are great fun and it’s easily the highlight of the bonus section of the disc.
Over The Edge is finally getting the release it deserves, with Arrow providing a remaster that looks stunning. It’s definitely one for your list.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
- High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray transfer
- Original uncompressed mono audio
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
- Archive commentary by director Jonathan Kaplan, producer George Litto and writers Tim Hunter & Charlie Haas
- New commentary by star Michael Kramer and journalist Mike Sacks
- Isolated music and effects track
- Wide Streets + Narrow Minds, an exclusive retrospective documentary featuring newly recorded interviews with cast and crew, including Jonathan Kaplan, Tim Hunter, Charlie Haas, talent scouts Jane Bernstein and Linda Feferman, production designer Jim Newport, stars Michael Kramer, Harry Northup, Vincent Spano, Pamela Ludwig, Julia Pomeroy, Kim Kliner, Diane Reilly, Eric Lalich and others
- Full post-film Q&A from a 2010 screening at the Walter Reade Theater in New York, featuring Litto, Hunter, Haas, Bernstein, Northup, Kramer, Ludwig, Pomeroy and Tom Fergus
- Excerpts from the Projection Booth podcast episode on the film, including discussion by Mike White, Leon Chase and Heather Drain, plus interviews with Haas, Hunter, Spano, Northup and Andy Romano
- Welcome to New Granada, the full “rock operetta” by DRATS!!! inspired by the film
- Text materials, including original production notes and the 2009 VICE oral history by Mike Sacks
- Destruction: Fun or Dumb?, the full educational short excerpted within the film, in high definition
- US theatrical trailer and TV spots
- UK VHS promo
- German theatrical trailer
- Extensive image galleries, including the original Mousepacks screenplay
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sister Hyde
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring new writing by Kim Morgan and Henry Blyth, and the original San Francisco Examiner article that inspired the film.
Over The Edge is released by Arrow Video on 31st May.