This is pretty wild: an uneven mix of sleaze verging on exploitation, serious social commentary, and morality tale, all with teen idol Paul Anka at its center. (I cannot imagine what his fanbase would have thought about their heartthrob as a creepy peeping tom in a terrifying mask.) It’s set in a suburban, cookie cutter neighborhood, one with unhappiness, discontent and, yes, horniness behind closed its picture windows and closed doors.
While there are a lot of families around, the two upon which we focus are the Fowlers (Anka plays only child Craig) and the Lowells. Jay Fowler (Alex Nicol) is a weak, weepy, alcoholic ex-airplane mechanic who recently lost his job. His wife Jackie (Ruth Roman) is frustrated by his childishness and passivity, and contemporary audiences would have immediately linked Craig’s shyness, discomfort around girls, and delinquent behavior to the absence of a truly masculine, adult presence in his life.
Next door, the Lowells, too, have one child, a girl about Craig’s age (Eileen, played by Gigi Perreau), as well as a marriage in total disarray. In their case, the visible issue that Gareth (Jack Cassidy) is a serial, unapologetic philanderer, exhibiting the kind of unsubtle confidence and simple availability that is catnip to unhappy housewives, at least in the movies. (You will not be surprised, dear reader, to hear that things are hot, heavy, and really obvious between Gareth and Jackie Fowler.) His own wife Betty (Carole Mathews), meanwhile, seems resigned to his behavior, and explicitly stays with him because she’s told herself it’s what’s best for Eileen.
To this simmering stew of unhappiness, add one peeping tom (who all the men think it is their masculine duty to beat up), two cops (one an old school fascist, the other a new school fascist — with psychology training!), and way too much alcohol at a Fourth of July party, and you’ve got, well, some messy, messy shit.
While the examination of suburban pettiness and unhappiness is sometimes effective and pointed, and Anka, though not a great actor, makes Craig convincingly lost and terrified, there are also some painfully dated ideas and scenes, primary among them Eileen admitting it was “mostly her fault” that she got hurt running away when Craig tried to assault her. Like. YIKES. That said, it’s refreshing that not everyone gets happy endings, and that no one’s lives are magically cleaned up by the end of the film — there’s a hint of optimism in its conclusion, but no indication at all that things won’t be exactly the same by the time the next Fourth of July party rolls around.
I don’t know that I’d recommend this, but it’s an interesting relic of its time, and reminds me a lot of Private Property another low-budget film from the same period that also focuses on suburban malaise, voyeurism, and sex, albeit from a much (MUCH) darker perspective.
black & white, fullscreen, mono, 87 minutes. DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic!