Joe Dante is a director who has over the years got a deserved cult following with films such as Gremlins, Explorers and The Howling and here tackles paranoia in suburbia in the classic The Burbs.
Family man Ray Peterson (Tom Hanks) is looking forward to a week of relaxation in his suburban street of Mayfield Place. But his plans are scuppered by the arrival of new next-door neighbours, The Klopeks, whose behaviour and habits are more than just a little kooky. But things get sinister when local old boy Walter disappears, leading Ray and his buddies to suspect their new neighbours of killing him and burying the body in the backyard! It’s time for the suburbanites to figure out just what’s going on in their nice quiet street.
A great cast makes The Burbs a fun watch, with stellar support from Bruce Dern and Carrie Fisher, Tom Hanks does a wonderful job of a man slowly being dragged into finding out what his neighbours are really doing in the middle of the night. A great music score by Jerry Goldsmith (there is an isolated score extra on this release) adds greatly to the tension making this a classic and one of the best black comedies of the 1980’s.
The Blu ray released by Arrow has been newly-restored from the original film elements and approved by director Joe Dante. It looks great, very filmic with grain showing through but losing none of the clarity and depth you would expect. Audio is uncompressed 2.0 Stereo PCM and sounds excellent, clear and precise, one of the best stereo tracks in a long time.
Extras are where Arrow excels and this is no exception:
• Isolated Music and Effects Soundtrack – Superb extra feature.
• New audio commentary with writer Dana Olsen, moderated by author Calum Waddell. The good and interesting commentary goes into all aspects of the film and production.
• There Goes the Neighbourhood: The Making of The Burbs – A new feature-length documentary including interviews with Joe Dante, actors Corey Feldman, Courtney Gains and Wendy Schaal, director of photography Robert M. Stevens and production designer James H. Spencer. Another great extra, shame Tom Hanks and Bruce Dern were not involved.
• The original Workprint cut of the film transferred from Director Joe Dante s personal copy, on home video for the very first time – includes deleted and alternate scenes! VHS quality but fascinating to see the differences between the two versions.
• A Tale of Two Burbs Video featurette comparing the differences between the Workprint and Theatrical cuts of the film, with optional audio commentary from Dante
• Alternate ending, presented in HD for the very first time.
• Original Theatrical Trailer in HD
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
• Collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Kenneth J. Souza, author of Scared Silly: The Films of Joe Dante, and an article looking at the collaborations of Joe Dante and composer Jerry Goldsmith, illustrated with original archive stills and posters.
Another winner from Arrow, who actually went out of their way to get a new master done for this release because they were not satisfied with the one which was provided by Paramount. A film that gets better with each viewing, this is fully recommended.
FILM: 8 PICTURE: 8 AUDIO: 9 EXTRAS: 9