Tagline: A comedy about one nice guy who gets pushed too far.

In the middle of the night, in a quiet, seemingly ordinary suburban neighbourhood in America, average guy Ray Peterson steps outside of his home and onto his front lawn. Ray has been woken up by strange noises emanating from his neighbour’s basement, and with curiosity getting the better of him, he decides to take a closer look.

The house next door belongs to the Klopeks – a mysterious and somewhat aloof family who recently moved to the area. Ray knows nothing about the Klopeks, but whatever is going on in their basement is clearly unusual at this time of night and in this type of neighbourhood, and it is sure playing on his mind.

Image: ©Universal Pictures
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This short introduction sets the tone and mood for The ‘Burbs – a horror comedy from director Joe Dante. The movie follows Ray – as played by Tom Hanks – and his fellow neighbours, as they become increasingly concerned about the family next door, and what their presence could mean for this somewhat idyllic corner of the US. But are the Klopeks really up to no good, or is this all just a misunderstanding, brought about by fear and suggestion?

If you have never watched The ‘Burbs, then I certainly won’t spoil the finer details of the story by revealing if the Klopeks are the monsters of the piece. Not that it really matters, because the fun in The ‘Burbs is watching a bunch of suburbanites send themselves crazy trying to prove they live within spitting distance of ritual murderers. This is all done with tongue firmly in cheek, with some deliciously dark moments, and with an ensemble cast who are all on fine form.

Tom Hanks is the lead in this picture, but co-stars Rick Ducommun, Bruce Dern, and Corey Feldman all bring something memorable to this fiendishly fun feature. Collectively they represent the ‘ordinary folk’, who are afraid of the strangers in their midst, and who may have stumbled onto something sinister – they just need to prove it.

Filled with lashings of black comedy, The ‘Burbs is a humorous, paranoia pic, about people with too much time on their hands. In essence, it is a much lighter film than many of the other titles included in this book, but don’t be fooled into thinking this is pure comedy – The ‘Burbs has a wicked undercurrent running through it, which fires up the synapses and makes you ask the question: What exactly is that odd noise coming from next door, and why do the neighbours act so strange?

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Classic quote

Image: ©Universal Pictures

Art – “I think the message to, uh, psychos, fanatics, murderers, nutcases all over the world is, uh, “do not mess with suburbanites”. Because, uh, frankly we’re just not gonna take it anymore. Ya know, we’re not gonna be content to look after our lawns and wax our cars, paint out houses. We’re out to get them, Don, we are out to get them.”

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Cast and crew

Image: ©Universal Pictures

The ‘Burbs is directed by Joe Dante, produced by Larry Brezner, Michael Finnell, Ron Howard, and Dana Olsen, and written by Dana Olsen. The film features music by Jerry Goldsmith.

The cast includes Tom Hanks, Carrie Fisher, Bruce Dern, Rick Ducommun, Corey Feldman, Henry Gibson, Courtney Gains, Gale Gordon, Dick Miller, Robert Picardo, and Wendy Schaal.

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Thank you for stopping by It’s A Stampede! to read this spotlight post focusing on a must-see horror movie. This ‘spotlight’ on The ‘Burbs is one post in a series of ten posts looking at superb horror movies and shorts which you may or may not have seen.

Other posts in this series include: Suspiria (1977), The Strange Thing About the Johnsons (2011), Don’t Look Now (1973), Psycho (1960), The Omen (1976), The Blair Witch Project (1999), Lights Out (2013), The Woman in Black (2012), and Bone Tomahawk (2015).

The aim is to spread some horror love around the internet, and possibly introduce you to a slice of horror that you may have overlooked. So, make sure to add this movie to your next horror movie marathon.

And for more horror-related content, be sure to check out the recommended reads below.

Read more:

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