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Handsome high school gym teacher Eddie Collins is exercising near his home on Venice Beach when he spots two young women, Sherry Streetman and her roommate, Lauren Bowers, whose car has become stuck in the sand. After Eddie assists them, he invites Sherry home. When he fails to become sexually aroused, however, he shrinks from Sherry. Frustrated, she tears his pants, and when he pushes her away, her head hits the table corner, accidentally killing her. Looking at her dead body, he finds himself finally stimulated. Eddie ties up Sherry's body in a sheet, carries it to the roof and stashes it in the attic shaft. Later, Mr. and Mrs. Cole, the building landlords, set traps for pigeons and toss the dead birds down the same shaft, hiding the bodies from the authorities. At Eddie's school, a student named Danny asks him for advice about girls, and Eddie counsels him not to appear overeager. Later, Eddie goes on a date with Barbara, his sweet, somewhat plain downstairs neighbor, and when she tries to seduce him, lashes out angrily. She asks if he is attracted to her, and he reluctantly assents, then quickly leaves without an explanation. Soon after, Lauren visits Eddie's apartment, looking for Sherry, and is alarmed by Eddie's suspicious, defensive reaction. Aggravated by his date with Barbara, Eddie hires a prostitute to dress as his mother, and lie in bed as if dead while he makes love to her. Lauren calls the police to report Sherry's disappearance, but when two detectives come to her apartment, they find her boyfriend Richard's marijuana in her bathroom and arrest her. The next day, a young acquaintance named Vickie approaches Eddie on the beach and flirts with him. After a swim, he invites her to wash up in the bathhouse in his building's basement. They shower together, but when she overtly propositions him, he stabs her to death, then lovingly washes her body and hides it in the basement closet. Later, Eddie tries to avoid Barbara but she approaches to apologize for upsetting him. He warns her to back off, then that night, sneaks into her apartment and stands over her body as she sleeps, an unused razor in his hand. Returning home, he vomits. The next day, he visits the prostitute without warning, insisting that she see him. When she declares that she has no time for the whole routine and instead kisses him normally, he spits on her, after which she slaps him and throws him out. Although a neighbor protests to Mrs. Cole about a rancid odor emanating from the attic, she assumes it is coming from the dead birds and ignores the complaint. After Lauren is released by the police, she convinces Richard to help her search Eddie's apartment. As they break in at night, Eddie visits Barbara to apologize, winning her over with his charm. In her apartment, Barbara reveals that her mother ran off when Barbara was six and never returned, and urges Eddie to confide in her. Despite his desperate desire to confess, he cannot, and upon hearing a noise upstairs in his apartment, rushes home. Realizing that his apartment has been disturbed, he runs outside, followed by Barbara, and sees Lauren and Richard fleeing. After checking to ensure that Vickie's body is still in the closet in the basement, he locates Sherry's wallet, which he has hidden, in order to obtain Lauren's address. That night, he breaks into the apartment and, after watching Lauren and Richard sleeping in bed, attacks as soon they stir. Richard fends him off but Eddie manages to wound him. Eddie then chases Lauren outside through the woods. She runs to a neighbor's house and bangs on the door, but no one answers and her screams for help alert Eddie to her location. Chasing her back into the woods, he brutally stabs her to death, then returns to finish off Richard. Eddie walks all the way home, and in his bedroom, masturbates while imagining his naked mother, her actions mirrored by the women he has murdered. The next day, Eddie is increasingly mentally unstable, and when Danny tries to talk to him again, he derides the boy. Barbara learns from Mrs. Cole that Eddie is planning to move, and knocks on his door until he finally allows her in. Despite Barbara's offers to help him, he is brusque with her. She soothes him maternally, prompting him to rip open her blouse. When she cries, he withdraws, stating, "You're not like the others, I care about you." Barbara is touched until Eddie admits that he watched over her while she slept. Hoping to contain his murderous rage, he pleads with her to go, but when he leaves the room, she searches the apartment. In the bathroom, she finds Lauren's body in the shower. Eddie is hiding behind the door, and attacks her viciously, stabbing her to death. Afterward he huddles in the darkened apartment, now completely insane.