The ‘Burbs is a tale as old as time about everyone’s experience with that “weird family” on the block!
This is a ‘memory movie’ of mine from 1989 when I was 20. I saw it in a theater, by myself, because Chris, the dude I was hanging with at the time (a friend from the high school days) had already seen it with his girlfriend, and I remember being irritated he saw it with her first. This was a year out from me getting a girlfriend too and quickly understanding when that happens your friends suddenly take a back seat in your life, or drop out of it altogether. I think I saw it after work one night. I used to work in the warehouse of the local K-Mart from 3pm-closing (aka 9pm). I would simply punch out and head straight to the movies, then to Burger King or McDonalds for super before heading home. Jesus, how the hell did I live on fast food way back then? I can’t do that today at all. Ah, the good ol’ days when a young body could digest anything.
Aside from the sheer memory of how I saw it, I remember this movie because it was something of a unique film for Tom Hanks. It’s a horror comedy, way more comedy than horror, and you don’t typically see Hanks blown up in a film and come walking out of the explosion looking wickedly fucked up with one of his eyes swollen shut. That’s so un-Hankian. Carrie Fisher being in it also made it memorable because she’s Princess Lea and seeing her in something other than that was always weird. I also tend to forget Joe Dante (Piranha, The Howling, Gremlins) directed it. In the extras he states this tanked at the box office; I can’t remember that myself. I can’t even remember what Siskel and Ebert said about it, but thanks to 21st technology (aka YouTube) we can now see this segment of their show and they both hated it. From their conversation we do learn it was, at least, a hit in the opening weekend.
Tom Hanks headlines an all- star cast as a family man trying to spend a quiet week long vacation from work when his “weird,” new, neighbors, the Klopeks (pronounded Kloe-pek), set in motion a “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street” scenario that has Ray (Hanks) and his crazy cul-de-sac neighbors thinking they’re a bunch of serial killing Satanists bent on upending the “sanity” of their street, Mayfield Place.
If it wasn’t for that twist ending this would be very much in the vein of that Twilight Zone episode where we eventually learn it’s the nature of human beings to destroy that which they do not understand, or that which doesn’t fit in, but the German Klopek’s really are serial killers—not Satanists though, Ray’s friend, Art (Rick Ducommun) is the one who just assumes they’re Devil Worshippers.
The Klopeks (there are three of them): Dr. Werner Klopek (Henry Gibson), his brother, Reuben (Brother Theodore) and nephew, Hans (Courtney Gains) are recent add-ons to the cul-de-sac, having moved in only a month prior, “buying it” from the old couple who used to live there. We learn later on they tend to move around a lot, and in that reveal at the very end Werner admits they killed the former owners, when they wouldn’t sell.
Carrie Fisher is Ray’s wife Carol; Bruce Dern and Wendy Schaal are Lt. Mark Rumsfield and Bonnie, he a Vietnam vet and she, I’m guessing, to be an ex-beauty pageant celebrity, or stripper; and Cory Feldman as Ricky, whose parents are out of town and simply loves the street he lives on because of all the wacky characters on it. When not engaging in said wackiness himself, like helping the aforementioned neighbors break into Walter Seznick’s (Gale Gordon), home (another neighbor of theirs), when he “mysteriously disappears,” he’s watching from his porch, sometimes with his girl, others times with his friend, as the others end up creating the kind of havoc you’d routinely have to pay money to see at a drive-in. And that kind of havoc as I mentioned earlier culminates in Ray inadvertently blowing up the Klopek’s house when he and Ray break in and end up digging down deep in the basement, wrongly assuming the bodies they just know the Klopeks are responsible for are there, but instead hits the gas line, and KA-BOOM!
I have to admit Joe Dante hangs onto the “assumption” the Klopeks are innocent right up to the final minutes, and because of that I too was thinking, holy hell, these other neighbors really are crazy, and look what they did, they blew up a house in the process. This movie obviously does have a happy ending, with the Klopeks being nabbed for murder, even though according to Dante the original script didn’t.
As always with Dante’s flicks Dick Miller makes an appearance; he’s Vic, a garbage man along with another Dante vet, Robert Picardo (The Howling) as his buddy, Joe. They both have a memorable encounter with the cul-de-sac residents one morning after they forcefully rummage through the garbage he and Joe just picked up from the Klopeks. The night before Ray, Art and Mark spied Hans tossing what they believed was a body into a trash can.
Universal has previously released The ‘Burbs on blu and DVD. Arrow Video also released it on blu in the UK back in 2014 with a host of extras, Shout! Factory is finally giving us fans here in the U.S. a deluxe blu edition with most of the extras from that edition! Order it here on Amazon, or if you prefer you can get the Universal blu here on Amazon too.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.85:1 high definition widescreen—2.0 English DTS-HD Master Audio—English subs
Transfer looks fantastic! As for the workprint included, which is anamorphic, I actually liked that too. And as far as workprints go it’s quite watchable, it’s VHS roughness and the temp music used makes it look and sound like a movie made in the late 60s or 70s! I liked that a lot.
Extras included . . .
- Audio Commentary With Writer Dana Olsen, Moderated By Calum Waddell
- There Goes the Neighbourhood: The Making of The Burbs (1:06:32)
- An Interview With Joe Dante (18:35) (NEW)
- An Interview With Photographer John Hora (10:57) (NEW)
- An Interview With Film Editor Marshall Harvey (9:53) (NEW)
- Original Workprint Includes Deleted And Alternate Scenes (1:45:57)
- Alternate ending (7:20)
- Behind-The-Scenes Still Gallery (5:54)
- Still & Posters Gallery (7:52)
- Theatrical Trailer