It was a nice and quiet neighborhood…
Director: Joe Dante
I haven’t seen the film lately, but it’s one that I know so well (I proudly own the DVD). I stopped counting how many times I’ve seen it… it’s really useless. My cousin says it’s pathetic already. What can I do? This film is just great! It’s a perfect recipe for a horror film; a cup of suburbia, a pinch of dark humor and a handful of oddity, and there you have it; Tom Hanks is Ray Peterson, an over-stressed family man whose peace is being disturbed by the people next door, the Klopeks. No one has either seen or heard them, except for late at night when strange noises come out of their basement. Along with his leery neighbors, Art and Rumsfield, Ray begins to theorize all sorts, and is determined to prove the next door neighbors are not who they seem to be.
The ‘Burbs is my favorite Tom Hanks film (tough call between this one and The Money Pit). He’s hilarious as Ray Peterson. What I love about Hanks generally is that he’s not putting a lot of effort to be funny, he just is. His facial expressions and child-like behavior is endearing and I just want to give him a hug every time I watch one of his films. Carrie Fisher is also great. She plays the Carol Peterson, a loving wife to Ray who decides to take matters into her own hands and stop this snooping foolishness. Other very good ones are Bruce Dern as Rumsfield, the ex-military neighbor, and Rick Ducommun as Art, the bored fat neighbor and Corey Feldman as Ricky, the wild teen-age neighbor.
Director Joe Dante has his fare share of horrors and comedies, including Twilight Zone: The Movie, and Gremlins, which has its own special place on my nostalgia list. He’s also the director of Innerspace, a film I loved watching as a kid, so I have much appreciation for this man. Some would say his films are low budget pieces of crap, but they turned into cult films for a reason. With The ‘Burbs, Dante chose to show ultra-normal American suburbia and what happens when it’s destabilized. The plot was based on childhood memories of screenwriter Dana Olsen growing up in the suburbs. our town had its share of psychos, Olsen explains, As a kid, it was fascinating to think that Mr. Flanagan down the street could turn out to be Jack the Ripper. You never know what happens next door, but in this film, suburbanites choose to take action and it’s in the end your’e not so sure who are the crazy ones, the snooping neighbors or the quiet strange family.
I love horror stories especially when they take place in hotels or the suburbs. There something about those two locations being undermined by weird things that just appeals to me. It’s extra creepy…