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The ‘Burbs (BluRay) 
Written by: on September 29th, 2014

Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1989
Director: Joe Dante
Writer: Dana Olsen
Cast: Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern, Carrie Fisher, Corey Feldman, Wendy Schaal, Henry Gibson, Brother Theodore, Courtney Gains

BluRay released: September 15th, 2014
Approximate running times: 102 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 12 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD Stereo English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region B (UK)
Retail Price: £15.99 (UK)

Synopsis: Ray Peterson’s nice relaxing vacation is turn upside down when he lets two of his neighbors convince him that their new neighbor are psychopaths.

The ‘Burbs was directed by Joe Dante whose other notable films include The Howling, Gremlins and Matinee. Key collaborators on The ‘Burbs include cinematographer Robert M. Stevens (The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!) and composer Jerry Goldsmith (Chinatown, The Omen). Besides Goldsmith’s score the film features several well-known compositions like Ennio Morricone’s ‘The Showdown’ and ‘Se Sei Qualcuno è Colpa Mia’ and the theme song from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.

Though the majority of viewers are sure to shortchange The ‘Burbs as a product of its time, when there is so much more to this delirious black comedy that sets it apart from its contemporaries. The first obstacle that many modern viewers are faced with is understanding the dynamics of a suburban neighborhood from the 1980’s. We now live in a world where avoiding those who live around us has become the norm and getting to know your neighbors has become a relic of the past. This wanting to blend in and be ignored is exactly what the Klopek’s, the odd family who has just moved into the neighborhood in the film wanted so desperately from their neighbors. And this is also where the majority of this film’s humor lies as their privacy is invaded time and time again.

This film features a rock solid cast which is anchored by Tom Hanks (Forest Gump, Philadelphia) manic performance in the role of Ray Peterson. To help encourage this growing delirium Hanks character is aided by a trio of performances Rick Ducommun (Groundhog Day) in the role of Ray’s best friend, Bruce Dern (Family Plot) a gun totting former army lieutenant and Corey Feldman (Stand by Me, The Lost Boys) in the role of teenager who invites all of his friends to watch the events unfolding in his neighborhood. Other notable cast members include Carrie Fisher (Star Wars) and Wendy Schaal (‘American Dad’) in the role of the wives and Brother Theodore (Gums), Henry Gibson (‘Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In’) and Courtney Gains (Children of the Corn, Hardbodies) in the role of the Klopek’s.

Content wise, though the comedy is the main driving force that keeps things moving along. One must not overlook the influence of the thriller genre, more specifically in regards to this film’s impeccable visuals which often grab your attention. And nowhere is this more evident than in the film’s opening set up which starts with the Universal logo that transforms into a shot from the sky which descends into the neighborhood where the entire film’s takes place. From there we are introduced to this film’s protagonist Ray Peterson who has ventured outside in the middle of the night because he heard strange sounds coming from his new neighbors’ basement. All the while as this is happening other neighbors’ are watching with baited breath to see what Peterson is going to do next. This in a nutshell is what this film is all about, what is he going to next?

The BluRay:

The ‘Burbs comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. For this release a brand new 2k transfer was created and it was sourced newly-restored from the original film elements and color graded by Joe Dante. Details look crisp, black levels look consistently strong, grain structure looks natural and there are no issues with compression.

This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD Stereo mix in English and an option to listen to an isolated track of this film’s music and effects. Range wise things sound great, as dialog always comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and robust when it needs too. Also included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles.

Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (1 minute 33 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), an alternate ending for the film (6 minutes 38 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), a featurette about the differences between the work print and theatrical versions of this film titled ‘A Tale of Two ‘Burbs’ (23 minutes 37 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen, with optional audio commentary from director Joe Dante), an audio commentary with screenwriter Dana Olsen and moderator Calum Waddell and a documentary titled ‘There Goes the Neighborhood: The Making of The ’Burbs’ (66 minutes 33 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) with comments from Joe Dante, actors Corey Feldman, Courtney Gains and Wendy Schaal, director of photography Robert M. Stevens and production designer James H. Spencer.

Topics discussed include the origins of this project and how it was the first film that Imagine Films produced (Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Production Company), the look of the film, the film was shot a very famous location on Universal Studio’s back lot and how the Universal tour tram would throughout the day drive through the set while they were shooting, casting and the cast, Hitchcock’s influence on this film, the dream sequence and how it was much longer then what ended up in the theatrical version, shooting multiple endings, critical reaction to the film and how this film has since become a cult classic.

Other extras include the original work print cut of the film transferred from Joe Dante’s personal copy and on home video for the very first time (105 minutes 57 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen).

Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art option and a thirty two page booklet with an essay about the film written 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. Besides this release Arrow Video are also giving this film a steel book release that comes with the same contents. Overall The ‘Burbs gets a first rate release from Arrow Video that comes with a wealth of extra content, highly recommended.

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