The 'Burbs (1989)

PG | 102 mins | Comedy | 17 February 1989

Director:

Joe Dante

Writer:

Dana Olsen

Cinematographer:

Robert Stevens

Editor:

Marshall Harvey

Production Designer:

James Spencer

Production Company:

Imagine Entertainment
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HISTORY

A 24 Jun 1988 DV news item reported that actors Billy Crystal and Rod Daniels were scheduled to appear in the movie, but “creative differences” led Imagine Entertainment co-founder Brian Grazer to restructure the project at Universal Pictures with Tom Hanks and Rick Ducommun in the leading roles.
       The film was rushed into production to avoid a Writers Guild of America’s (WGA) strike. Principal photography began the same day the strike went into effect, 19 May 1988, and no changes to the script were allowed during shooting. Filming was scheduled to end 31 Jul 1988 to avoid an anticipated technicians’ strike. The movie was filmed entirely on “Colonial Street” on the back lot of Universal City Studios.
       A 19 Oct 1988 DV news brief announced that an alternate ending was being filmed. According to 10 Nov 1988 LAHExam news item, the ending had been a subject of debate before the writers' strike. Revisions were requested to make Hanks, whose box-office profile had increased since the success of Big (1988, see entry), as "dominant in the film as cinematically possible."
       Although a 14 Jun 1988 DV news column stated that a release date was originally set for the 1989 Easter weekend, the opening was pushed up to Presidents' Day weekend, when it earned $11.1 million from 1,951 theaters.
       Special sound effects editor John Pospisil is credited onscreen as "John ... More Less

A 24 Jun 1988 DV news item reported that actors Billy Crystal and Rod Daniels were scheduled to appear in the movie, but “creative differences” led Imagine Entertainment co-founder Brian Grazer to restructure the project at Universal Pictures with Tom Hanks and Rick Ducommun in the leading roles.
       The film was rushed into production to avoid a Writers Guild of America’s (WGA) strike. Principal photography began the same day the strike went into effect, 19 May 1988, and no changes to the script were allowed during shooting. Filming was scheduled to end 31 Jul 1988 to avoid an anticipated technicians’ strike. The movie was filmed entirely on “Colonial Street” on the back lot of Universal City Studios.
       A 19 Oct 1988 DV news brief announced that an alternate ending was being filmed. According to 10 Nov 1988 LAHExam news item, the ending had been a subject of debate before the writers' strike. Revisions were requested to make Hanks, whose box-office profile had increased since the success of Big (1988, see entry), as "dominant in the film as cinematically possible."
       Although a 14 Jun 1988 DV news column stated that a release date was originally set for the 1989 Easter weekend, the opening was pushed up to Presidents' Day weekend, when it earned $11.1 million from 1,951 theaters.
       Special sound effects editor John Pospisil is credited onscreen as "John P." More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
14 Jun 1988
p. 1, 16.
Daily Variety
24 Jun 1988.
---
Daily Variety
19 Oct 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Feb 1989
p. 4, 14.
LAHExam
10 Nov 1988.
---
Los Angeles Times
17 Feb 1989
p. 6.
New York Times
17 Feb 1989
p. 12.
Variety
22 Feb 1989
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Rollins-Morra-Brezner Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Addl cam op
Addl cam op
Addl cam asst
Addl cam asst
Chief lightening tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Lighting tech
Lighting tech
Lighting tech
Key grip
Grip best boy
Dolly grip
Still photog
Video supv
Cam by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Prod illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Video supv
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Standby painter
Const coord
Const foreman
Paint foreman
Labor foreman
Plaster foreman
Set des
Set des
Set des
Set des
Prop master
Asst prop master
Swing gang
Swing gang
Greensman
Company greensman
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Asst costumer
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus rec mixer
SOUND
Sd eff
Spec sd eff
Supv sd ed
A.D.R. ed
Sd eff asst
Sd eff ast
Foley by
Foley artist, Taj Soundworks
Foley ed, Taj Soundworks
Foley ed, Taj Soundworks
Foley ed, Taj Soundworks
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Boom op
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Titles and opt eff
Spec visual eff
Visual eff of opening seq
Visual eff supv, ILM
Visual eff prod, ILM
Art dir, ILM
Matte artist, ILM
Visual eff cam, ILM
Visual eff cam, ILM
Opt supv, ILM
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Scr supv
Craft service
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Animals provided by
Animal handler, Grisco Animals
Animal handler, Grisco Animals
Animal handler, Grisco Animals
Asst to Messrs. Dante & Finnell
Asst to Mr. Brezner
Prod coord
Prod secy
Prod secy
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Prod asst
Prod asst
Asst to Mr. Hanks
Unit pub
Studio teacher
Atmosphere casting
Voice-over coord
STAND INS
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt coord
Voice-over coord
Voice-over actor
Voice-over actor
Voice-over actor
Voice-over actor
Voice-over actor
Voice-over actor
Voice-over actor
Voice-over actor
Voice-over actor
Voice-over actor
Voice-over actor
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Machine," written by Alex Mitchell, Ricky Beck Mahler & Gary Sunshine, performed by Circus of Power, courtesy of RCA Records
"Bloodstone," written by Mickey Finn, Fernie Rod, Billy Rowe & Mark Radice. performed by Jetboy, courtesy of MCA Records, "Questa O Quella," from Verdi's Rigoletto, performed by Enrico Caruso, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc. Special Markets Division, "Locked In A Cage," written by Mickey Finn, Fernie Rod, Billie Rowe & Sam Yaffa, performed by Jetboy, courtesy of MCA Records, "Make Some Noise," written by Mickey Finn, Fernie Rod, BIlly Rowe, Ron Tostenson & Sam Yaffa, performed by Jetboy, courtesy of MCA Records.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The 'burbs
Release Date:
17 February 1989
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 17 February 1989
Production Date:
19 May--31 July 1988
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, Inc., and Imagine Films Entertainment
Copyright Date:
17 April 1989
Copyright Number:
PA412515
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Camera and Lenses by Panavison®
Duration(in mins):
102
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29589
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Ray Peterson awakens one night to investigate a strange light coming from his new neighbor’s basement, but is pushed back by a strong wind. He notices someone watching him from an upstairs window and retreats into his house. The next morning, Ray observes as “Queenie,” a small poodle owned by Walter Selznick, excretes on Lieutenant Mark Rumsfield’s lawn, while Ricky Butler, a teenage neighbor, prepares to paint his house. Rumsfield and his wife Bonnie emerge from their home and run an American flag up their flagpole. Ricky yells for Lt. Rumsfield to be careful, but the older man steps in the pile of feces and screams vengeance on the dog. Over breakfast, Ray’s wife, Carol, bemoans the fact that Ray is staying home for his vacation instead of going to their lake house. Another neighbor, Art Weingartner, stops by and begins gossiping about the cul-de-sac’s new residents, the Klopecks, whose previous home supposedly burned down in a fire. Ray’s young son, Dave, claims that he saw the family of three digging in the backyard late at night. After breakfast, Art and Ray dare each other to visit the Klopeck’s house. Realizing all the neighbors are watching them, they climb the porch stairs and bang the doorknocker. A porch light falls, and a swarm of hornets chase them across the street. That night, Art tells Ricky a story about a man who murdered his family in their town. He was caught because a heat wave caused the bodies to decompose, creating a hideous smell. Ray confirms the story and wonders what their new neighbors are doing in their cellar. ... +


Ray Peterson awakens one night to investigate a strange light coming from his new neighbor’s basement, but is pushed back by a strong wind. He notices someone watching him from an upstairs window and retreats into his house. The next morning, Ray observes as “Queenie,” a small poodle owned by Walter Selznick, excretes on Lieutenant Mark Rumsfield’s lawn, while Ricky Butler, a teenage neighbor, prepares to paint his house. Rumsfield and his wife Bonnie emerge from their home and run an American flag up their flagpole. Ricky yells for Lt. Rumsfield to be careful, but the older man steps in the pile of feces and screams vengeance on the dog. Over breakfast, Ray’s wife, Carol, bemoans the fact that Ray is staying home for his vacation instead of going to their lake house. Another neighbor, Art Weingartner, stops by and begins gossiping about the cul-de-sac’s new residents, the Klopecks, whose previous home supposedly burned down in a fire. Ray’s young son, Dave, claims that he saw the family of three digging in the backyard late at night. After breakfast, Art and Ray dare each other to visit the Klopeck’s house. Realizing all the neighbors are watching them, they climb the porch stairs and bang the doorknocker. A porch light falls, and a swarm of hornets chase them across the street. That night, Art tells Ricky a story about a man who murdered his family in their town. He was caught because a heat wave caused the bodies to decompose, creating a hideous smell. Ray confirms the story and wonders what their new neighbors are doing in their cellar. Later, Art and Rumsfield use an infrared scope to spy on the Klopecks. A loud hum emanates from the cellar as a shock of lightning strikes the rooftop, causing the other lights in the neighborhood dim out. A smell that Rumsfield describes as “a burning cat,” permeates the air. They hide as the Klopecks’ garage door opens and Hans Klopeck drives his car to the curb, removes a large plastic bag, and stuffs it into a trash can. It begins to rain, so the men decide to wait to dig through the garbage. As the storm intensifies, Ray watches from his bedroom as the three Klopecks—Hans, Werner, and Rubin—dig a hole in their backyard. When a trash truck appears the next morning, Art and Rumsfield snatch Klopecks’ waste from the compactor and strew it across the ground, but do not find anything unusual. Art theorizes that the Klopecks spotted them and buried the body to hide the evidence. They notice Queenie running loose and go to return the dog to Walter Selznick. When no one responds to their knock, Rumsfield breaks into the house and discovers the television has been left on and a chair overturned. They grow concerned when they discover Walter’s toupee. Art breaks a knick-knack, causing Ray to order everyone out of the house. He unconsciously puts Walter’s toupee in his pocket and leaves a note telling Walter he has Queenie. He slips it and the toupee into the mail slot, and notices someone in the Klopecks’ house watching him. The next day, Art tells Ray he slipped a note under the Klopecks’ door reading, “I know what you’ve done.” As Ray frets that the Klopecks will think he did it, his dog, Vince, arrives carrying a human femur. They realize Vince dug it up in the Klopecks’ yard. Just then, Art’s note is tossed into Ray’s yard, causing him to panic. He runs into the screen door just as Carol storms out, claiming she has had enough of the men’s childish behavior and demands they simply introduce themselves. Hans Klopeck answers the door, and reluctantly lets them inside to meet his Uncle Rubin. They sit in awkward silence while Hans makes coffee. Ray complains about the neighborhood drainage problems and suggests they check the Klopecks’ cellar for moisture. Before Ruben can answer, Dr. Werner Klopek emerges from the basement wearing a rubber apron, wiping what looks like blood off his hands, but explains it is only red paint. Werner plays the perfect host, explaining that his teaching at the local university requires him to move frequently, and that he is already planning to look for a new house the next day. Ray spills hot coffee on his lap and rushes off to find a bathroom. Instead, he opens the basement door and releases a Great Dane. The dog smashes through a screen door, spots Art, who has sneaked into the backyard, and chases him over the fence. Later, the neighbors regroup and Ray reports that the Klopecks seem “alright.” However, once the women leave, he pulls Walter’s toupee from his shorts. He states he left it at Walter’s house, but found it at the Klopecks’ in a pile of magazines addressed to Walter. The next morning, Carol takes Dave to visit her sister. When the Klopecks leave their house, Art scales a utility pole to cut the power lines, disabling any alarms. He clips a wire, and the electrical charge hurls him into an old tool shed, causing a blackout throughout the neighborhood. Hearing the disturbance, Ricky Butler sees Rumsfield climbing onto Ray’s roof to maintain a lookout and calls his friends to come over and watch the fun. After hours of digging up the backyard, Art suggests they search the house. Ray breaks a window and they descend to the basement, where they find a commercial blast furnace. When Ray turns it on, the noise startles Rumsfield, who falls off the roof and discharges his rifle, shooting out a car window. Convinced that bodies are buried under the cellar’s dirt floor, Ray begins to dig. That night, the Klopecks return to see the glow of the furnace coming from their cellar. They turn off their headlights and drive away. When Ray hits something metallic, Art radios Rumsfield claiming that they have found Walter and runs out of the house. Just then, Walter arrives home and the Klopecks return with the police. Rumsfield attempts to alert Ray, but his radio is covered with mud. Art races to the cellar as Ray declares he has hit a gas line. Art barely escapes the house before the furnace flames ignite the gas. He despairs that Ray is dead, but his friend limps out of the burning ruin with half his hair singed off. Later, Carol returns to find Ray bandaged and under arrest. A police captain explains that Werner Klopeck is a famous pathologist who was collecting mail for Walter while the old man was in the hospital. Ray realizes Werner must have picked up the toupee while collecting the mail, and concludes their paranoid suspicions were unwarranted. When Art mentions that someday police will find a body buried in the backyard, Ray loses his temper and tries to strangle him. He hurls a gurney into an ambulance, jumps inside, and demands to be taken to the hospital. Werner climbs in with him, and Ray apologizes. To his surprise, however, Werner accuses Ray of finding skulls hidden in the furnace, and explains that he murdered the previous tenants before moving in. Ray looks up to see that Hans behind the wheel. Before he can scream, Werner pulls out a syringe and Hans drives away. Ray pushes Werner into Hans, who loses control of the vehicle and smashes into a tree. The back doors spring open and the crowd sees Ray and Werner fighting as the gurney rolls down the road and into the Klopecks’ car, causing the trunk to pop open. Declaring a “citizen’s arrest,” Ray knocks the syringe from Werner’s hand. Ricky Butler lifts a skull out of the trunk, and police arrest the Klopecks. Ray puts his arm around Carol and tells her he wants to go to the lake, instructing Ricky to keep an eye on the neighborhood. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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