The ‘Burbs – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Next year, Joe Dante’s classic comedy, The ‘Burbs will be turning thirty. And with that, Shout! Factory, under the Shout Select label, will be giving this cult classic its rightful due on on a US Blu-ray. The film wasn’t a box office smash, the critics didn’t care much for it, but its had the last laugh by living on and being a favorite by many. This new edition contains a few new interviews as well as a new 2K transfer of the film. Most of the features found on the Arrow Video UK release of the film from a few years back are also found on this release, including the workprint of the film from Joe Dante’s archives. This one is coming at you on March 20th, so go ahead and get your pre-orders in and sell off your little standard release from not to long ago, this one has easily upgraded over it.


Settling in for some time off in his suburban home, Ray Peterson’s vacation becomes a horror when the Klopeks, a suspiciously odd family, move in down the block. Enlisting the aid of his paranoid buddy, Art, and his militia-man neighbor, Rumsfield, Ray sends his son and wife away on a trip while he investigates the Klopeks. When a neighbor disappears, Ray and his cohorts risk their lives to save their cul-de-sac from the clutches of evil.

Joe Dante’s The ‘Burbs is another venture with the director through his love of horror with a much harder line on the comedy this time around. Its a film with a big cast, a simple concept and a lot of room to just goof around and have fun. This isn’t a traditional horror effects extravaganza, but it does such things in other ways to give you the same feeling.

What really makes Dante’s film roll through the entire journey is his cast, headed up by Tom Hanks. Like everything he does, Hanks is fully committed and sells the insanity and lunacy all the while feeling like our “regular guy”. Countering him to help ground things is Carrie Fisher, who has a role that really is the furthest from being “fun” but is still quite important to sell this thing and keep it rooted in some sense of reality. Legend Bruce Dern has a fun turn as a pleasant version of a Ted Nugent. Rick Ducommun and Tom Hanks apparently didn’t have much chemistry offscreen, but they share a good relationship on camera as Ducommun is all the craziness the Hanks’ Ray could be come to life. Corey Feldman is a nice touch, but really isn’t anything more than the cool kid next door. What really works for the film are the creepy neighbors played by Courtney Gains, Brother Theodore and Henry Gibson. And, it wouldn’t be a Joe Dante film without Dick Miller, who (Along with Robert Picardo) cameos as a garbageman.

Dante’s setting is that of a classic Hollywood sitcom neighborhood street. In fact, it IS one of the classic Hollywood neighborhood streets. The film was shot on the Universal back lot and features such famous houses as the one from The Munsters, Leave It To Beaver and more recently Desperate Housewives. You’ll never really notice it while watching the film, as Dante has really made this his own. He’s also crafted an iconic residence of his own in that of the Klopek house for this film. The house has a classic abandoned eeriness that both fits with the neighborhood but also of its won place and time. Not many directors could really pull this off with such expertise, but this is right in Dante’s wheelhouse.

The ‘Burbs is a just a quirky bunch of fun with zany scenarios tackling the 80s trope of boredom in the suburbs. Tom Hanks leads a super fun cast who really make the material shine. While it wasn’t well received upon release, its had the last laugh in being very well received upon VHS rentals/purchases and television viewings throughout the 90s. Now a revered cult classic, its goes up there with many of the well known and beloved films of 1989. Which for me personally, was a year that made me a bigger film fanatic.


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: This Shout Select Collector’s Edition of The ‘Burbs features a new 2K transfer was done in 2017 from an interpositive.  And I gotta say, they get a lot of shit, but I really think Shout has been delivering some lovely transfers lately, and The ‘Burbs is right up there with them. The film looks wonderfully detailed and spacious in its appearance. Its also as crisp and sharp as could be. With it being a film of the cult variety and seeing what Universal had done previously with it, this is probably the best we are going to get. But, I have noticed since around Silent Night Deadly Night, Shout’s transfers have shown a pretty big jump in improvement it the source materials allow it (And its not going to bankrupt the company to restore).

Depth:  With this new transfer, the image appears pretty free and loose with the separation of foreground and background pretty apparent, giving a slight 3 dimensional appeal to it. Movements are natural and no distortions appear.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and can carry some more grain in darker sequences. Details are kept up best they can with hair, clothing and surfaces. No crushing seen during this viewing.

Color Reproduction: Colors tend to pop out a bit more when it comes the clothes the characters wears. Particularly the outfits worn by Carrie Fisher and Wendy Schaal. Reds have a nice boldness to them and there is a good variation on greens seen throughout.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and stay consistent from start to finish of the. Facial features and texture is impressive from medium to close up shots.

Noise/Artifacts:  A little heavier on the grain in the darker scenes, but this is a rather clean looking transfer.


Audio Format(s): English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: The ‘Burbs comes with its original 2.0 mix. I’m not sure if this is a new one or not, but it sounds great. Its very loud and lively. Featuring plenty of nuances and a fun balance and layering of effects and sound, you won’t really miss the 5.1 if you’ve got it cranked up good enough.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are very loud, clear and crisp.


The ‘Burbs – Collector’s Edition features reversible cover art featuring the original theatrical poster art.

Audio Commentary

  • With Writer Dana Olsen, moderated by author Calum Waddell

There Goes The Neighborhood: The Making of The “Burbs (HD, 1:06:32) – This was originally featured on the Arrow release of the film, but its a fun, detailed documentary on the film featuring Joe Dante, Corey Feldman, Courtney Gaines, Wendy Schaal, Robert M. Stevens, and James H. Spencer.

An Interview With Director Joe Dante (HD, 18:36) – A new interview with the director. He does repeat some of the points he made in the documentary, but also touches on some newer stuff, talking about the writer’s strike, working with each of the cast members and the legacy of the film (The one he’s asked most about at conventions after Gremlins).

An Interview With Photographer John Hora (HD, 10:57) – A series of text with blue background questions are asked to him as he talks about first finding Joe Dante, not understanding The Howling, the cast of the film and his overall thoughts on the production.

An Interview With Film Editor Marshall Harvey (HD, 9:53) – Like John Hora, he is also asked some prompted questions that are rather similar in nature, but he give his overall philosophy on editing and how he applied it to The ‘Burbs and in working with Joe Dante.

Alternate Ending (SD, 7:21) – From a VHS source.

Original Workprint from Director Joe Dante’s Archive (SD, 1:45:57) – This features the alternated ending as well as a couple deleted/extended sequences in the film. As far as quality, it is pulled from a VHS source.

Behind-The-Scenes Still Gallery (HD, 5:54)

Still and Posters Gallery (HD, 7:53)

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:31)


The ‘Burbs continues to live on as many of fans favorite of Joe Dante and even Tom Hanks’ films. It boasts a fun cast and concept and plenty of great sketch comedy moments. Shout Factory’s Shout Select Collector’s Edition boasts a terrific transfer and audio to go along with a nice wealth of bonus features both new and old.  This will make a great upgrade if you owned the previous Universal release. And if you’ve never owned it, this is the one to pick up to add to your collection!


Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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