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The 'Burbs (1989) - Blu-ray Review

Movie Review

5 beers

The critics were wrong about this movie. DEAD WRONG. The ‘Burbs, when it released in 1989, opened to hellfire and damnation via the printed word by most of the print critics. Director Joe Dante, in the NEW interviews with the cast and crew for this special Collector’s Edition release, recounts reading the reviews. The bad ones – and there were a lot – stuck in his brain, he says.  Critics are often wrong, it seems, and this film will have the last laugh.

Yet, here we are, celebrating a CLASSIC DARK COMEDY that is celebrated with Quote-Alongs at Midnight screenings across the country. For the curious, there is this release which – Surprise! Surprise! – features the much celebrated original workprint of The ‘Burbs from Joe Dante’s archive, which includes several deleted and extended scenes that fans are sure to love.

This is top shelf entertainment; it might be right next to the rat poison but it’s STILL top shelf stuff. In fact, thanks to a highly charged comedic cast that includes Tom Hanks (in the few hours before BIG would be unleashed and change everything for the actor) as Ray Peterson on a week-long vacation from work, Carrie Fisher as his wife and the only SANE person in this narrative, comedian Rick Ducommun as the next door neighbor who believes the new arrivals to the cul-de-sac are murderers, Corey Feldman as Ricky who is the neighborhood watch and calls the Pizza Dude, Wendy Schaal as the neighborhood hottie, and the immortal Bruce Dern as military veteran, Lt. Mark Rumsfield, who watches the strange new move-ins take the trash to the curb in their car and then beat the living shit out of the bag with a hoe, this comedy kicks all sorts of spine-tingling ass.

"a classic horror-drenched black comedy that continues to strike all the right chords. Repeated viewings of the film brings to light just how GREAT its lines and warped sense of humor are."

You see, the Klopeks - Henry Gibson as Dr. Werner Klopek, Courtney Gains as Hans Klopek, and the unflappable Brother Theodore as Uncle Reuben Klopek – are indeed strange, but they might not be the killers they are believed to be. The neighborhood watch at the center of this comically morbid tale has gone completely off-kilter as this bizarre family moves to the suburbs and perplexes the community with rain-soaked backyard burials and a creepy vibe that unnerves everyone.

When one of the neighborhood’s very own, Gale Gordon as Walter Seznick, bites the bullet (or so they think), the Klopeks become the neighborhood’s prime suspect. Are these “it came with the frame” weirdos deranged or has the neighborhood lost its collective mind?

For my money, Joe Dante – the director of PiranhaGremlinsVoyagers, Innerspace, and (while I could go on) Small Soldiers – has NEVER disappointed with any of his movies. He nails it time and time again. The ‘Burbs, in spite of what the damn critics had to say, is more proof of his genius when it comes to finding the right balance. Every Jerry Goldsmith’s score takes it cue from Dante’s work.  

The ‘Burbs is a classic horror-drenched black comedy that continues to strike all the right chords. Repeated viewings of the film brings to light just how GREAT its lines and warped sense of humor are. This is classic stuff. CLASSIC. With this incredible release from Shout Select, The ‘Burbs finally receives the recognition it so rightly deserves.

As a bonus, you’ve got Dick Miller cast as the damn garbage man. This release, featuring a brand NEW 2017 2K scan of the interpositive, audio commentary with writer Dana Olsen (who was cast in the movie to be on the set during the writer’s strike), and a bunch of new supplemental items, is all the reason you need to move back to The ‘Burbs.


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Film Details

The 'Burbs (1989) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: PG.
Runtime: 101 mins
Director: Joe Dante
Writer: Dana Olsen
Cast: Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern, Carrie Fisher
Genre: Comedy
Tagline: He's a man of peace in a savage land... Suburbia.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Klopek... what is that, Slavic?"
Theatrical Distributor: Universal Pictures
Official Site: 
Release Date: Fenruary 17, 1989
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: March 20, 2018
Synopsis: Tom Hanks stars in The 'Burbs, a comedy about a suburbanite whose plans for a peaceful vacation at home are disturbed by a creepy new family on the block. Much to the disappointment of his wife (Carrie Fisher), Ray Peterson (Hanks) and his three neighbors set out to investigate the next-door residence after they begin to observe strange happenings.


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The 'Burbs (1989) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Collector's Edition

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray - March 20, 1985
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English
Language: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz, 24-bit)
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

The new 2017 2K scan of the interpositive is beyond impressive. Shout Select continues to deliver the goods to fans of the forgotten films. Shout Select presents The ‘Burbs with a polished visual upgrade from its original release. The new transfer showcases the draw of the suburbs with a nice, scenic beauty. You know this neighborhood. It is the home of The Munsters and Leave it to Beaver. But here, in 1080p, the neighborhood is quite crisp and expressive. The film is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Nicely saturated, there are no dents in its new HD shiny armor. Colors are strong throughout and are particularly memorable with their inclusion of details and strong edges. Black levels are clearly defined, too. Shadows are detailed. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is solid and aggressive, making Jerry Goldsmith’s score sound as awesome as it really is.



The commentary from screenwriter Dana Olsen is moderated by Calum Waddell and is quiet interesting, especially for fans of the movie.

Special Features:

Complete with NEW interviews from Joe Dante, Corey Haim, Wendy Schaal, Editor Marshall Harvey, DP John Hora, and Courtney Gains, this release is bound to please fans. We get a fresh look at the making of the movie and other discussions concerning the film’s legacy. It is a nice touch and fits with the archival information also included. Fans will dig it.  

There Goes The Neighborhood: The Making Of The ‘Burbs – Includes Interviews With Director Joe Dante, Actors Corey Feldman, Courtney Gaines, And Wendy Schaal, Director Of Photography Robert M. Stevens, And Production Designer James H. Spencer

Alternate Ending

Original Workprint From Joe Dante’s Archive (Includes Deleted And Extended Scenes)

Behind-The-Scenes Still Gallery

Stills And Posters Gallery

Theatrical Trailer


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The 'Burbs (1989) - Blu-ray Review