“She’s such a sweet girl. He’s such a nice boy. They’ll scare the hell out of you”.
When Dennis Pitt (Anthony Perkins) was young he started a fire that accidentally killed his aunt, who he loved very much. Sent to prison, Dennis lives in a perpetual fantasy world which he finds a safer place than the real world.
Eventually released from prison, his kindly probation officer (John Randolph) finds him a job at Lowell Lumber and Supply and he moves into a trailer at Bronson’s Garage.
Bored of the mundane and highly-repetitive work, fantasy-prone Dennis begins to concoct stories about being a CIA agent on a top secret assignment. When he meets beautiful, blonde, All-American high school girl, Sue Ann (Tuesday Weld), he pulls her into his fantasies too.
Together, they plot to sabotage the Lumber and Supply building, which Dennis insists is being used as a front to contaminate the town’s drinking water – but on the night of the raid, Sue Ann wantonly murders a security guard and steals his loaded gun.
She eventually arranges for Dennis to be the patsy in the murder of her bossy, controlling mother (Beverly Garland), promising him they will flee to Mexico together once the deed is done.
Dennis is imprisoned for the murder after turning himself in. Meanwhile, Sue Ann – who we eventually discover is a stone-cold sociopath – meets another man she can use for her sinister purposes.
Sue Ann Stepanek