331 user 117 critic

The 'Burbs (1989)

1:37 | Trailer
An overstressed suburbanite and his neighbors are convinced that the new family on the block are part of a murderous Satanic cult.


Joe Dante


Dana Olsen
2,926 ( 509)
1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Hanks ... Ray Peterson
Bruce Dern ... Mark Rumsfield
Carrie Fisher ... Carol Peterson
Rick Ducommun ... Art Weingartner
Corey Feldman ... Ricky Butler
Wendy Schaal ... Bonnie Rumsfield
Henry Gibson ... Dr. Werner Klopek
Theodore Gottlieb ... Reuben Klopek (as Brother Theodore)
Courtney Gains ... Hans Klopek
Gale Gordon ... Walter Seznick
Dick Miller ... Garbageman
Robert Picardo ... Garbageman
Cory Danziger ... Dave Peterson
Franklyn Ajaye ... Detective
Rance Howard ... Detective


This story takes place in a typical American neighborhood, when some new neighbors come to live in the house next to Ray Peterson. These new people are really strange; nobody has ever seen them, their house is a real mess, and during the night you can hear weird noises from their basement. The only thing they know is their name: Klopeks. One day Walter (an old man of the neighborhood) suddenly disappears and everyone starts to suspect the Klopeks... Written by Chris Makrozahopoulos <makzax@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Life In The Burbs Will Never Be The Same Again! See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Early in the movie, when Cory Danziger is eating breakfast, a box of Gremlins cereal can be seen on the kitchen counter in the background. Joe Dante also directed Gremlins (1984) and Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990). Corey Feldman was in Gremlins (1984). See more »


When Walter's family comes back at night, they run over the garbage that Art and Mark had taken out of the garbage truck the night before, and park at an angle. In the next shot when Walter gets out of the car, the car is in a different position in the driveway. See more »


Art Wiengartner: A thermostat on a home furnace; is that supposed to go to 5,000 degrees, you think?
See more »

Crazy Credits

After the Universal Studios logo appears, the camera zooms into Earth and to where the film takes place.

At the end of the film, the effect is played in reverse. See more »

Alternate Versions

A deleted scene has Ray and Art find something in the Klopek's back yard which appears to be some sort of a bomb. See more »


References The Exorcist (1973) See more »


Locked in a Cage
Written by Mickey Finn, Fernie Rod, Billy Rowe & Sami Yaffa
Performed by Jetboy
Courtesy of MCA Records
See more »

User Reviews

Satan is good. Satan is our pal.
27 March 2017 | by Hey_SwedenSee all my reviews

"The 'Burbs" is writer / co-producer / actor Dana Olsens' deliberately warped invention. The idea is to remove the picture perfect outer layer of average American suburban life and reveal what potential insanity could be bubbling underneath. In so doing, he also makes fun of suburbanites who seem to make it their business to know everybody elses' business.

Tom Hanks stars as Ray Peterson, your typical 'burb dweller, who ends up severely stressed out when his nutty neighbors - Bruce Dern as ex-military man Mark Rumsfield and the late comedian Rick Ducommun as nosey instigator Art Weingartner - spur him to action. They keep hearing weird noises, and seeing weird things, concerning the newcomers to the street, the Klopeks (Henry Gibson, Brother Theodore, Courtney Gains), and wonder just what the hell is going on inside the Klopek house. To make matters more interesting, their elderly neighbor Walter Seznick (Gale Gordon) goes missing. Could the Klopeks be responsible for his disappearance?

Ray tries his best to be rational and skeptical, but finds himself drawn in more and more by his kooky comrades and the things he witnesses. Acting as a genuine voice of reason is his understandably frustrated wife Carol (Carrie Fisher).

The whole thing becomes rather over the top, but then a sense of anarchy to his stories has always been filmmaker Joe Dantes' ("Piranha" '78, "The Howling", "Gremlins") strong suit. Olsen and Dante have fun with the dark comedy aspect to this yarn, and there are some quite funny bits along the way. Viewing the whole circus from the sidelines is neighborhood teen Ricky Butler (Corey Feldman), who tries to convince his peers that the goings on here are better than any movie they could watch. Among those who really get into the spirit of the material are production designer James Spencer and composer Jerry Goldsmith.

Hanks is terrific, and much like the legendary Gene Wilder, proves to be a master at freaking out in a comedic way. But the whole cast is great, with Ducommun often going to town on the scenery. The cast is filled with familiar faces: Wendy Schaal, Dick Miller (Dantes' good luck charm for many years), Robert Picardo, Franklyn Ajaye, Rance Howard, Nicky Katt, Kevin Gage, Patrika Darbo. Olsen himself appears as a cop.

While the story is ultimately rather predictable, it does keep you watching, and amused - and may make you wonder what goes on behind your own neighbors' doors.

Seven out of 10.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

17 February 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Life in the Burbs See more »


Box Office


$18,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,101,197, 20 February 1989

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (workprint)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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