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The Burbs

The Burbs

By Patrick Samuel • April 9th, 2014
Static Mass Rating: 3/5
Universal Studios

Original release: February 17th, 1989
Running time: 101 minutes

Director: Joe Dante
Writer: Dana Olsen
Composer: Jerry Goldsmith

Cast: Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern, Carrie Fisher, Rick Ducommun, Corey Feldman, Henry Gibson

The Burbs

When I first moved into my home, on this quiet tree-lined street, almost 10 years ago, it was the nieghbour downstairs who first greeted me. She seemed nice; talkative and polite, but there was something about her that made me keep my distance as I got settled in. Perhaps she thought the same about me, maybe I seemed odd; a little too quiet? You know what they say about the quiet ones… But what do they say about the loud ones?

Over the years we experienced horrors such as karaoke parties that started at 3 in the mornings when she got home drunk with her friends, and shouting matches with her husband that lasted entire weekends. As well as the cannabis fumes that rose up from the floorboards and in through our open windows, even when their baby came along, there was the barrage of strange men who turned up at all hours, seemingly to purchase items from them in their garden shed. In short, they were the neighbours from Hell and I think the entire street breathed a sigh of relief when they packed up their bags and left.

Until that experience I thought such neighbours only existed in British soap operas and American horror/comedies such as this the late 80s one by Joe Dante. In The Burbs he takes a look at suburban life in a fictional cul-de-sac called Mayfield Place. It’s here we meet Ray Peterson (Tom Hanks) and his next door neighbours Art Weingartner (Rick Ducommun) and Lt. Mark Rumsfield (Bruce Dern). All three of them are busy trying to find out more about the Klopeks who’ve just moved across the road.

The Burbs

While it might seem like Ray and his friends are being typical nosey neighbours, maybe they have a right to be curious about these new folks. The shifty looking Hans Klopek (Courtney Gains) is seen carting a suspiciously large and heavy garbage bag from his car. Later on the trio witness them digging up their back garden in the middle of the night, and during a rainstorm. Convinced their neighbours are actually murderers, the trio step up their surveillance in an attempt to uncover the truth.

Blending the bizarre with comedy in the way that Dante has done over the years, with films such as Gremlins (1984), Explorers (1985) and Innerspace (1987), makes The Burbs an extremely likeable film, especially with Tom Hanks in the lead role. As the overstressed suburbanite who’s determined to find out what’s The Burbsgoing on over the Kopeks’, he comes across as the bumbling and well-meaning guy we loved in Splash (1984), The Money Pit (1986) and Big (1988), but here he’s a bit more edgy, succumbing the dark side a little as his curiosity gets to him. Is it all in Ray’s mind? Could the Kopeks’ really be cannibals?

The Burbs definitely offers us something we can relate to when we think about our neighbours. How much about them do we really know? What happens behind those doors? When we think about the horrors that took place in the homes of Fred West, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy and Ed Gein, we wonder how could the neighbours not have known or suspected. Surely we would. Or would we? Then again, if we suspect those around us, what’s to stop others from suspecting us, even if we’ve done nothing…? I guess that’s part of living in a community like Ray’s, or even mine – we never really know until it’s too late.

As for my own situation, with those awful neighbours finally gone I did worry about who might move in next. Would they be worse? Thankfully those fears were put to rest when we met the delightful young couple, starting off together after buying the apartment downstairs. They’re much nicer, quieter and no signs of serial killer tendencies. I do wonder sometimes what they think of us upstairs though!

The Burbs

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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