Joe Dante has always had this peculiar style that’s always helped his films stand out among everyone else’s. “The ‘Burbs” is another of his films that features the suburban unit being terrorized or working themselves up in to a stir. Dante loves to put his hands in to the perceived American norm and stir it up with some chaos and anarchy. It’s hard to believe that “The ‘Burbs” was originally a flop, as it’s managed to become one of the most highly appreciated cult classics of all time. In the face of the passing of the late great Carrie Fisher, if you’ve yet to see it, you definitely owe it to yourself to.
“The ‘Burbs” watches like some kind of demented darkly twisted approach toward a Hitchcock premise. I could certainly see this as some sort of spiritual sequel to “Rear Window,” where the paranoia and hysteria are mostly based around a bunch of people set in their ways incapable of actually accepting different and unique. Tom Hanks is very good as a burnt out businessman and husband who is insistent on taking a vacation. Things spiral out of control when new neighbors move in to his seemingly serene neighborhood. The Klopeks, as they’re known, have moved in to a decrepit old mansion and seem to have something shifty going on behind their closed doors. Despite Ray anxiously trying to relax, he can’t help but let curiosity get the best of him, and soon he and his neighbors begin investigating the new family on the block.
Coincidences and ironic twists abound as a lot of “The ‘Burbs” is played for pitch black comedy with a leaning on horror in most cases. “The ‘Burbs” features a great cast including Hanks in one of his more interesting early roles, along with Carrie Fisher, Bruce Dern, and Corey Feldman. Feldman’s character is easily the funniest aspect of “The ‘Burbs” as he’s pretty much the proxy for the audience who watches all of the chaos unfold from his front porch with immense amusement. Feldman works as a side character that is very much a part of the neighborhood but is also very aware of what is happening around him and can’t help but strap in for the ride. Dante’s “The ‘Burbs” is a classic mix of comedy, horror, and social satire, and one of Joe Dante’s best.
Number 44 in the “Shout! Select” label, there’s an audio commentary with writer Dana Olsen, as moderated by Author Calum Waddell. There’s a new interview with Joe Dante, editor Marshall Harvey, and DOP John Hora, clocking in at thirty eight minutes. There’s “There Goes the Neighborhood: The Making of The ‘Burbs,” which includes interviews with Joe Dante, Corey Feldman, Courtney Gaines, Wendy Schaal, DOP Robert M. Stevens, and Production Designer James H. Spencer. There’s the alternate ending, clocking in at seven minutes, and the original work print from Joe Dante’s archive. This includes deleted and extended scenes, clocking in at over a hundred minutes. There’s a behind the scenes still gallery, a Stills and Poster Gallery, and the original theatrical trailer.