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Over the Edge: Mousepacks

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Foster City is a planned community in Northern California built on what was once the San Francisco Bay Salt Marsh. These days, it is considered one of the top cities for rich people. However in 1973, Foster City was the subject of “Mousepacks: Kids on a Crime Spree”, a sensationalist article in the San Francisco Examiner chronicling rising tensions between the bored teens and the power-that-be that makes Foster City sound like Hell on Earth:

Mousepacks. Gangs of youngsters, some as young as nine, on a rampage through a suburban town. One on a bike pours gasoline from a gallon can and sets it afire. Lead pipe bombs explode in park restrooms. Spray paint and obscenities smear a shopping center wall…it sounds like the scenario for an underage Clockwork Orange, a futuristic nightmare fantasy. But all the incidents are true. They happened in Foster City where pre-teenage gangs—mousepacks—constitute one of the city’s major crime problems.

Foster City had, at that time, the highest rate of teen vandalism in the country. The community hadn’t been planned to take on a population of teenagers and their boredom lead to destruction. In Foster City, destruction lead to jail time, but in Over the Edge, it leads to cute boys in crop tops and death.

Screenwriters Tim Hunter and Charles Haas saw this story and began digging around interviewing the locals. After six years of research and writing,  Over the Edge went into production. With an English Punk for a director, a cinematographer with a background in the Direct Cinema movement, a cast of pouty delinquent teens and pre-teens, and two well-researched screenwriters, what resulted seemed to many audiences to be an honest document of suburban youth. A commenter on a Foster City Patch column on the film reminisces:

Although; Over The Edge, is over the top, it is a pretty accurate view of life in FC in the early ’70’s. I hung out with a group of guys who called themselves; “The Bros.”We hung out at The Rec which was held at the Bowditch Gym on Saturday Nights. We drank booze and smoked pot outside on the playground during the time the rec was opened. Some of my friends would sneak out at night to break car antennas.

Although “Joseph T. Cutietta”‘s credibility is unclear, a single viewing of Over the Edge is enough to make anybody want to claim a kinship with the characters. Hunter and Haas created a persistent portrait of cool rebellion.

Check Vice for an excellent and thorough piece on the making-of Over the Edge.