OVER THE SUMMER
1984, dir: Teresa Sparks
Some time around 2004 I became cripplingly panicked with fear. It was during the time I was beginning to cultivate a somewhat healthy DVD collection. I realised, as I searched for some of my favourite absurd movies on this several year old, yet fairly-new-to-me platform, that they were not in print and may never see print on these digital video discs (or whatever they’re called). I was mortified. Grief stricken and sleep deprived, I devised a plan. I was going to drive around to suburban video stores and buy all their ex-rental tapes, well all the ones that I could afford on my princely bartender’s salary and that weren’t on DVD. Also by drive around, I mean ask my friend, Matt, who owned a car to kindly give me a lift to various fledgling video libraries that were in the general vicinity of the places in which he had errands to run.
At the end of a night of unhealthy video scavenging and dust-clad dust-jacket dust inhalation, head cleaner at my side, I would sit down with my booty and voraciously consume movie after movie on my 34cm Teac TV.
A movie that left an impact on me from those magical nights of VHS debauchery was Over the Summer. Initially I was somewhat bored by this movie, but as I continued to wade through its bevy of oddly delivered lines and underdeveloped plot developments it somehow managed to grip me in a strange way. Usually a straight-up, feelings and romance drama set in a small town is enough to put me to sleep, but I stuck this one out. And then I watched like ten other movies and forgot about it. Or so I thought.
Over the Summer kept creeping back into my brain. This video made me feel like I needed a bath. It didn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth so much as a dusty, greasy film on my skin, but I couldn’t quite pinpoint why. I guess in my videotape gluttony, much of the insanity of this film was lost in the ether of tracking lines and distortion. I looked up Over the Summer on imdb.com and found very little information on it, not even a review. And writer/director Teresa Sparks had no other films listed on her resume.
So now it is 2012 and I have finally decided to revisit Over The Summer. I mean the story of the movie is, basically, rebellious city girl, Tina, is sent to the country to stay with her grandparents for the summer and proceeds to get embroiled in some good old fashioned hillbilly intrigue. I think the blurb from the video cover sums all that stuff up pretty well.
The first thing I noticed, upon re-watching was how creepy the grandfather of our protagonist Tina is. Seriously, just watch how he puts the moves on her in this scene very early on. Apparently he is supposed to be her favourite relative and they are very close or something. But this is ridiculous.
Tina ends up meeting with an old friend of hers, Rose, and they instantly become besties again. Rose introduces Tina to apparent heart throb, Rich, a guy who has a love of rolled up T-shirt sleeves, alcohol, drugs, violence and pug-nosed teenage girls.
While Rich is over-age and, I guess we’re led to believe, a real stud, he takes Tina’s virginity in a single thrust and it’s all over. After their seconds long, romantic graveyard lovemaking abruptly concludes he says “Get me too worked up”, which I guess is his excuse. Anyway, from this point, I will refer to him as One-Pump Rich. Oh yeah did I mention that Tina’s creepy grandfather is watching from behind a gravestone the whole time she does it with Rich?
Seriously, Tina’s grandfather is a real creep and, in an underdeveloped plot turn, also an arsonist and possibly a murderer. But the real villain of this feature is Rose’s hillbilly stepfather, Joe. Joe is a woman beater, attempted rapist and all-round bully. He manages to rile everybody up for one reason or another, whether it be framing One-Pump Rich for arson, beating Rose’s mother, trying to sexually assault Rose, pissing off the barman at the local pub or humiliating the mentally handicapped.
There are so many amazing scenes in this movie, and it is no wonder it made me feel grubby all over. I mean, it is not an all-out sleazy assault on the senses or anything. More, it feels like a made-for-TV drama and all the strange and unpleasant stuff is quite casually presented and moved past. We have Rose hiding a loaded gun under the mattress of the bed her younger siblings sleep in, Tina lovingly taking back One-Pump Rich after he gets aggressive with her outside “the dance”, Grandpa walking in on Tina getting changed, Grandpa’s one-man game of Russian roulette in a graveyard, Grandpa’s bizarre intonation when delivering lines, Grandpa’s lecherous fondling of a Barbie doll, Grandpa practicing the banjo to impress Tina, and, well just Grandpa in general.
In closing, Over the Summer is jarringly shot, strange and unnerving, I haven’t decided whether that is a good or bad thing, but I have to say it was thoroughly watchable. Probably due to those factors.
I have seen no sign of this movie having a DVD release in my brief and hardly thorough internet search, but you never know. I did however see a couple VHS tapes of it for sale on Amazon, if you are truly desperate to see it. I don’t recommend Over the Summer as a “go out and buy it” movie, but if you stumble upon it in a 10-for-a-buck bin why not throw it in there with 9 other movies you will actually like, just to make things interesting.