Generation X Run Amok

Apocryphally known as Kurt Cobain’s favorite movie, Jonathan Kaplan’s Over The Edge is a searing blast of teenage rebellion and anarchy. Filtered through the prism of young Generation X teenagers running wild in a planned suburban community, Matt Dillon makes his startling film debut. The explosive drama and chaotic finale is laced with a great musical soundtrack boasting names such as Cheap Trick, Van Halen, the Cars, and Ramones.

New Granada is supposed to be an oasis of safety and prosperity away from the city, typical of the designed communities which began springing up across the 1970s. The planned suburban neighborhood has been designed with middle-class families in mind, row after row of 3-bedroom houses. Distracted by the need for growth and outside business investment, entertainment options were a complete afterthought.

Distributors got squeamish about showing Over The Edge in theaters

The biggest issue in New Granada is they forgot to give their youth anything to do except for a dingy recreation center. Day after day in the middle of nowhere, they hang around causing trouble. Kids like Carl (Michael Kramer) and Richie (Matt Dillon) are bored out of their minds, expressing their teenage alienation through vandalism and petty crimes. The older adolescents are drifting into booze, guns, and drugs.

Left alone by their working parents, these roving groups of teenagers are becoming a serious problem. Fed up, New Granada’s overbearing police officer makes a snap decision with disastrous consequences. Soon the kids rebel against their parents and the town’s authority, pushing New Granada over the edge into chaos.

Distributors got squeamish showing Over The Edge in theaters, fearing its wanton depiction of violence and hooliganism would inspire teenagers turning fiction into reality. The 1979 WB film didn’t have a long theatrical run but ultimately made its mark running constantly on HBO in the 1980s, inspiring disaffected Gen X youth like a young Kurt Cobain.

It’s easy seeing how Over The Edge caught on with kids, a well-made film with interestingly sketched characters and mostly believable action. All the while backed with a juicy Rock soundtrack featuring several big acts like Van Halen and Cheap Trick. Surprisingly potent despite a PG rating which today would almost certainly earn a PG-13 or R, Over The Edge serves as a major precursor to latter teen films like Pump Up The Volume. The nightmarish final act is a mesmerizing dance of chaos. Over The Edge can trace its cinematic lineage back to classics like A Clockwork Orange and Rebel Without A Cause.

Films starring teenage casts often come across as inauthentic and out of touch. Over The Edge is an exception, painting a realistic portrait of adolescent struggles even if the exploitation flick goes over the top in its darker moments. A teenage romance is handled sweetly with maturity. There are a couple hokey sub-plots best forgotten but a thrilling final act pulls the flick together in a deceptively sympathetic portrayal of pure teenage anarchy.

Video

The 1.85:1 presentation is derived from a new 2K scan of the film’s interpositive, resulting in sturdy color rendition and fairly nice definition. Grain reproduction is positively film-like, if on the thicker density side. Detail glistens with unfiltered quality from steady, consistent elements. Exteriors are sharp, revealing affairs with real clarity. A touch of ringing is barely noticeable in most shots.

Shout issues the 1979 Warner flick on a BD-50, encoding the 94-minute main feature in rugged AVC at 32 Mbps. Over The Edge’s contrast and black levels work with the material, showing marked improvement over earlier editions. Having not seen the transfer put out by Arrow Video, Shout’s handling is superb with a technically strong effort unhampered by the film’s somewhat pedestrian cinematography.

Audio

A bevy of rock acts from the 1970s litter Over The Edge’s often thumping mono soundtrack. Cheap Trick, the Cars, Ramones, Van Halen and others back a score composed by director Jonathan Kaplan’s father Sol. Shout gives it a stout sonic presentation in 2.0 DTS-HD MA with crystal-clear dialogue. The music is heard in excellent fidelity with enough dynamics to give the pivotal moments more impact

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font. An isolated music and effect track is available in 2.0 DTS-HD MA.

Extras

Shout Studios issues Over The Edge as #156 in their Shout Select line-up. The disc is coded for Region A, making its Blu-ray debut in North America. Special features are a mix of new interviews exclusive to this disc and archival bonuses pulled from Arrow Video’s UK release. Yes, Arrow Video put the movie out only three years ago with a similar but different mix of bonus features. Shout’s BD offers brand-new interviews on top of the older extras.

“Watch Out For Children – Making Over The Edge” (16:03 in HD) – New Interview With Director Jonathan Kaplan

“Coming Of Age – Writing Over The Edge” (17:08 in HD) – New Interview With Screenwriter Charlie Haas

“My Father Told Me – Scoring Over The Edge” (14:10 in HD) – Interview With Jonathan Kaplan About His Father, Composer Sol Kaplan

“Wide Streets + Narrow Minds” A 7-Part Retrospective Documentary (72:46 in HD) – Inexplicably Shout doesn’t let you watch this well-constructed documentary all at once, all seven parts have to be selected. They are The Big Stool Pigeon, This Is The Kid, Blonde-Haired Jesus, A Face In The Crowd, Boom Boom, A Training Film For Vandalism, Kids Are More Honest Than Adults

Audio Commentary With Director Jonathan Kaplan, Producer George Litto, And Writers Tim Hunter & Charlie Haas – Older commentary originally found on Warner’s DVD

Audio Commentary With Actor Michael Kramer And Journalist Mike Sacks

Isolated Music And Effects Track (2.0 DTS-HD MA in mono)

“Destruction: Fun or Dumb?” (12:48 in HD) – The Full Educational Video Excerpted Within The Film

Theatrical Trailers (05:58 in HD) – Three trailers from various regions

TV Spots (01:04 in SD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided by the label for review. This has not materially affected DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit DoBlu’s about us page.

Over the Edge
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  • Extras
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An incendiary expression of Gen X teenage rebellion and anarchy featuring a young Matt Dillon and rousing musical soundtrack boasting Cheap Trick, Van Halen, and the Ramones

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 34 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots ripped directly from the Blu-ray:


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