Poor Ray Peterson (Tom Hanks), all he wants is a nice relaxing staycation but that just isn’t to be as a reclusive family named the Klopeks have moved into the dilapidated abode next door. This of course arouses the suspicions of his neighbors; mooching busy body Art Weingartner (Rick Ducommun), paramilitary nut Mark Rumsfield (Bruce Dern), and teenage smart ass Ricky Butler (Corey Feldman), whom all become convinced the Klopeks are members of a Satanic murder cult. Much to the chagrin of Ray’s long suffering wife Carol (Carrie Fisher), the gang of goofs (with reluctant Ray in tow) actually begin to turn up evidence (nocturnal digging of what appears to be graves, skeletal remains) that the new neighbors may indeed be up to something sinister, and after a visit to their abode Ray becomes convinced as well. Before long all hell breaks loose as Ray and company go completely off the rails trying to prove their crackpot theories!
Filled with fantastically broad characters (special mention to Children of the Corn‘s Courtney Gains, Brother Theodore, and Henry Gibson who are wonderful scene-stealers as the Klopeks), strong actors, and a script that deftly blends comedy and suspense, The ‘Burbs is considered a classic for a good reason. The smart-assery is in full effect, Hanks’ put upon everyman (and his growing rage) is relatable as all hell, and the stakes constantly ramp higher and higher before complete lunacy rules the day. Add to that another strong directorial turn from genre legend Joe Dante (The Howling, both Gremlins films, Piranha) that perfectly blends suburbia with Looney Tunes aesthetics.
Along with the classic feature, Shout! Factory (via their Shout Select label) have also included a nice assortment of bonus features as well. First up we get a somewhat dry, but info packed commentary with Screenwriter Dana Olsen. Following that we get an excellent “making of” doc featuring interviews and anecdotes covering the entire production of the film with Dante, Director of Photography Robert M. Stevens, Production Designer James H. Spencer, Feldman, Actress Wendy Schaal, and Gains. After that comes interviews with Dante, Photographer John Hora, and Film Editor Marshall Harvey. Next is the film’s alternate (and darker) ending, a workprint of the film containing material absent from the theatrical cut, galleries of behind the scenes photos, stills, and posters, and the film’s theatrical trailer.
If you are looking for a dark satire of suburbia with heavy horror overtones…or if you want to laugh your ever-lovin’ ass off along with a true classic, The ‘Burbs is the way to go, and this feature packed release is the best way to do so!
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