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The 'Burbs is a 1989 American black comedy film directed by Joe Dante starring Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern, Carrie Fisher, Rick Ducommun, Corey Feldman, Wendy Schaal and Henry Gibson. The film was written by Dana Olsen, who also has a cameo in the movie. The film pokes fun at suburban environments and their eccentric dwellers.

Trivia

  • Walter's toy poodle Queenie was played by the same dog that played Precious in The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
  • Tom Hanks improvised the scene where he picks up the gurney and puts himself into the ambulance.
  • The film was shot in sequence and was filmed during the writer's strike of 1988. 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, May 19, 1988. Although Dana Olsen, the writer, appeared in the film, he was prohibited from contributing anything to the script while on set. For this reason, Joe Dante encouraged the actors to improvise many scenes. One example was the moment when Rumsfield rips the Klopeks' wallpaper, an idea from Bruce Dern. Rick Ducommun ad-libbed many of his lines, including the "Satan is good, Satan is our pal" dialogue. Tom Hanks and Carrie Fisher came up with the idea of playing along with Jeopardy! (1984) at home.
  • The street was shot on the Universal back lot. It has been used for many films and television shows, including Desperate Housewives (2004). Some of the buildings have changed over time, but Walter's house is the only building on the lot that hasn't changed at all.
  • Everyone in the cast and crew had a good time working on the film, so much so that Tom Hanks personally bought everyone sunglasses and left a personal thank you note to everyone in the cast and the crew.
  • Michael Jackson's famed chimpanzee, Bubbles, was a frequent guest on the set. He was brought to set, and taken care of, by the animal wrangler that brought and handled the dogs on the set.
  • Wendy Schaal who does the voice of Francine Smith on American Dad! (2005), has personally stated that she got the job on the show because the show's creator Seth MacFarlane is a huge fan of this film.
  • According to the book "The Films of Tom Hanks" (1996) by Lee Pfeiffer and Michael D. Lewis, Joe Dante once said of this film: "I can't think of many pictures since Lifeboat (1944) that all take place in the same area. There was a lot of temptation to broaden it and go outside the neighborhood, but it seemed to violate the spirit of the piece. It's almost the kind of thing that could be a stage play except that you could never do on-stage what we've done in this movie".
  • 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. Corey Feldman was in Gremlins (1984), also directed by Joe Dante.
  • When Ray and Art break into Walter's house, a picture of Walter (Gale Gordon) and Lucille Ball is on the table. Ball and Gordon co-starred in the 1948 radio show "My Favorite Husband" and television shows "The Lucy Show (1962)," "Here's Lucy (1968)," and "Life with Lucy (1986)."
  • This film received the worst reviews of any film released in 1989 according to many who worked on the film which includes director Joe Dante, editor Marshall Harvey, and co-stars Wendy Schaal and Corey Feldman, but was a box-office success and now is deemed a cult classic.
  • Tom Hanks and Rick Ducommun really didn't get along during filming according to Joe Dante, but Hanks was a professional and kept it loose.
  • Prop master Mark Jameson was charged with making fake dog poo because the actors complained that they didn't want to step in the real thing. The mixture included canned dog food and bean dip. It was loaded into caulking tubes, and squeezed out where needed.
  • Corey Feldman was called in to meet with Joe Dante for the part of Ricky Butler at the Universal lot in his office. He had long black hair, and wasn't exactly dressed for a meeting, which was due to the fact that he had just come back from North Carolina after having wrapped filming on Dream a Little Dream (1989). When he stepped into Dante's office, where Dante and his producer Michael Finnell as well a casting contingent were all very quiet and stated "I'm looking for Joe Dante". Feldman apologized to Dante for his appearance and Dante immediately told him, "That's it! This is what I had in mind for the character" and Feldman was elated to hear it.
  • Screenwriter Dana Olsen was inspired by a family in his own neighborhood who were hardly seen and never took care of their lawn.
  • After Tom Hanks accepted the role in the film, he was very adamant that he shouldn't have a son in the film and fought to have Cory Danziger's part written out completely according to director Joe Dante. Hanks felt that he shouldn't have been playing a Fred MacMurray type but a more contemporary husband to Carrie Fisher.
  • The house where Ricky Butler (Corey Feldman) lives was the same as where The Munsters (1964) was filmed, and the house where Tom Hanks and Carrie Fisher lives was also used for Leave It to Beaver (1957). Most of the houses on the block where the film takes place were featured on TV shows, with Desperate Housewives (2004) being the latest.
  • According to Joe Dante, Tom Hanks was hesitant to do the movie because it was the first time he was playing a dad. Hanks was concerned that this would prevent him from returning to the types of roles on which he had built his career up to that point, but Dante said Hanks was willing to go along with it.
  • The film was originally slated for a Christmas 1988 release but due to reshoots, the film was pushed back to February 1989. By that time, Tom Hanks would be nominated for an Oscar for Big (1988).
  • Oddly enough, when Art falls off of the telephone pole and onto the shed, the sound effect that plays is that of a bowling ball knocking a strike.
  • Although the panning at the beginning of the film depicts it as taking place in the Des Moines, Iowa area, several references, including the Illinois license plates on the garbage truck, place this film in the Chicago area.
  • In the scene at the Klopek's house, Bruce Dern is fascinated by one of Dr. Klopek's paintings, turning it upside down. That painting appeared in the opening sequence of an early episode of Rod Serling's Night Gallery (1969).
  • The film was shot mostly at night, which practically threw everyone off their usual daily schedules due to the unusual working hours with the exception of the day shoots, which for many including Courtney Gains, who has personally stated that "he felt he lost ten years sleeping those odd hours and how difficult it was to try to rest normally"
  • Tom Hanks was very confused about Wendy Schaal's performance in the film according to her. She also stated that in the note he'd wrote her when he gave her a gift of sunglasses, he wrote, "I still don't get what you were doing. It was great working with you."
  • There was a writer's strike that lasted 6 months while the film was in production. This film and Fletch Lives (1989) were the only movies filming at the Universal backlot during April - June 1988; many in the cast and crew described it as a "ghost town". Filming was scheduled to end July 31, 1988 to avoid an anticipated technicians' strike.
  • The Klopeks named their Great Dane "Landru", probably after Henri Landru, a notorious French serial killer.
  • According to James H. Spencer the film's production designer, the Universal backlot did not have a Cul-de-sac and one had to be created for the film, utilizing the famous houses (Leave It to Beaver (1957), The Munsters (1964), amongst others) that were within that area.
  • There is one family at the end of the street who are never seen until the end - the occupants of the house between Walter and Rumsfield. Their last name is Finnell, a reference to producer Michael Finnell, which is seen on the side of their Chevrolet Astro Van as "Finnell Plumbing".
  • Corey Feldman had been going through some personal turmoil during filming and eventually stated that "he'd crashed and burned". He had struggled to hang onto what was driving him as an actor. Director Joe Dante and both Wendy Schaal and Carrie Fisher acted as his counselors during the filming to help him from getting into trouble.
  • There's a shadow of a noose on the wall over Uncle Reuben's right shoulder when the neighbors first visit the Klopek's house.
  • At the very beginning of the movie, when the camera starts to pan down the street, a street sign appears, "Mayfield Place." Mayfield was the town where the Cleavers lived in Leave It to Beaver (1957). The movie was filmed on the same lot.
  • During a 2018 interview with the DailyDead.com, Joe Dante admitted that it's remarkable how this film has become such a popular cult movie, because, at the time it was released, it was "just another movie" and received awful reviews. He said "It made a lot of money, it was fairly popular, but the reviews were abominably bad. And we sort of all figured, 'Well, we'll just go onto the next thing.' And then over the years, I'd go to dentists offices and stuff and they'd say, 'Oh, you made The 'Burbs?' And I discovered the picture was more popular than I thought it was. And now the movie is probably second only to Gremlins (1984) as the most popular movie I ever made."
  • In the Klopek basement, there is a sled with the name Rosebud - a reference to Citizen Kane (1941).
  • Carrie Fisher actually wore a wig that was pretty similar to her own hair do - in between takes she would take it off and the cast couldn't tell the difference.
  • Henry Gibson was not the first choice for Dr. Klopek due to his charming personality and diminutive stature. Director Joe Dante had worked with him on Innerspace (1987) and loved his work and had remembered his menacing portrayal of the doctor in Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye (1973) which convinced him that he was the right choice for the role stating that "he had something evil in him."
  • During filming on the set, there was a voice in the distance that was yelling "Help!" this was because the set was close to the "Jaws" Ride at Universal Studios, and this voice was played loudly on the PA system in distance. According to director Joe Dante, you could literally hear it during some scenes in the movie which he said a little more looseness to the film.
  • During the scene where Hans bangs the garbage bags inside the cans, he just kept banging them until he got angry and went with it which ended up in the final cut.
  • The music that plays when Lieutenant Mark Rumsfield is introduced, and throughout the movie, is a variation on the main theme from Patton (1970) which was also composed by Jerry Goldsmith.
  • There are several photos in the house of the character played by Gale Gordon, which feature him with Lucille Ball. He worked for many years on several of her television programs.
  • Theatrical and television trailers show some deleted and extended scenes; Ray cooking at the metal barbecue and accidentally setting it on fire. Shot of Art sitting somewhere outside and mentioning Klopek's name. Shot of Dr. Klopek saying his name, it seems like this shot was in ending of the movie. Ray, Ricky, Walter, and Bonnie all standing by a ladder which leads to someone's roof and Ray saying "I think we're overreacting", by their clothes, it looks like it's from the scene where they break into Walter's house. Ray telling Carol that someone thinks that "the Klopeks are evil incarnate." Ricky helping Art out when he falls over the fence after running from Klopek's dog. Shot of Ricky saying "God, I love this street" which is not from the same scene where he says it in the movie. Reportedly, more scenes were deleted and some extra scenes are said to be included in old television versions of the movie.
  • Ricky's friend "Steve Kuntz" wears a Skull Skates shirt. Rick Ducommun and his brother Peter started Skull Skates in the late 1970s, as Great North Country Skateboards. The company is now the sole property of Peter.
  • The Klopek's painting, of which Rumsfield can't seem to understand the orientation, is a depiction of surgery from the point of view of the patient.
  • Courtney Gains was hired immediately after meeting with director Joe Dante for the part of Hans Klopek, without having to audition for it.
  • While there was a writer's strike on the Universal lot, the daily tour of the Universal backlot was still taking place throughout the filming of this movie and Fletch Lives (1989) not far away. Everytime the tour was about to pass through the set, filming was stopped so that the tour could pass through quickly and continue filming soon after. This happened pretty frequently.
  • Due to the writer's strike, director Joe Dante could not have actor/writer Dana Olsen to consult or do any rewrites on the screenplay on a daily basis. Pretty much most of this movie is improvisation and ad-libbing. Dante did eventually find a way for Olsen to be on set and hired him as an actor so that way he could consult with him indirectly without violating the Writers Guild rules.
  • The filming location of The 'Burbs set was also used for another Tom Hanks film, Dragnet (1987) for the character Connie Swail's house.
  • First major studio picture directed by Joe Dante which was not predominantly in the science fiction or horror genres.
  • The film's Universal studio logo sequence seen at the start of the film was an animated variation of the one used during the period the picture was made.
  • Jerry Goldsmith's score being played during the fight scene in the ambulance car, was reused in Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) when the bat-Gremlin escapes the lab and flies around New York City.
  • Vic, the garbage man (played by Dick Miller) was also the neighbor in Gremlins (1984). Counting Corey Feldman, Dick Miller, and Joe Dante, that's three crossovers to Gremlins (1984).
  • Brother Theodore Gottlieb was cast after director Joe Dante had discovered him through a personal one man show he had been doing in New York City. Dante also felt that he was right for the part over Timothy Carey who had also auditioned for the part was what he termed "a bit too intense".
  • There is one family at the end of the street, the occupants of the house between Walter and Rumsfield. In the script, it was the Barkelow family, their son was riding his bike in concentric circles, endlessly, day and night on the end of the cul-de-sac in front of the house. His bike made creaky noises and he only stopped during key moments to glance over such as when Ray and Art knocked at the Klopeks' door.
  • Of the suburban cul-de-sac setting, Joe Dante, according to the book "The Films of Tom Hanks" (1996) by Lee Pfeiffer and Michael D. Lewis, once said: "I asked (Production Designer) James H. Spencer, a veteran of Poltergeist (1982) and Gremlins (1984) if he thought he could turn that street into the neighborhood we needed in that period of time. Spencer rose to the challenge, and within a few days they began work on sketching out the proposed designs for the sets. Spencer observed, 'We had to be on the spot. Due to the lack of time, it would have been ludicrous to do our drawing elsewhere'."
  • Of the cast members, most really didn't get along with Gale Gordon as he had mostly kept to himself while his scenes were being filmed.
  • The trailer features music from the Neil Simon comedy Murder by Death (1976).
  • This film was finishing filming when Big (1988) was released by Twentieth Century Fox in June 1988. Tom Hanks had been featured on the front cover of Entertainment Weekly and personally read the article to the cast and crew when it had come out.
  • Before Jerry Goldsmith took on the assignment of scoring the film, director Joe Dante had momentarily considered the late Oscar winner Georges Delerue to write the score for the film but he personally didn't think "he would score a picture such as this one". The film would mark at the time, the fourth collaboration between Goldsmith and Dante who would go on to collaborate together four more times, with Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003) the final film he would score for the director, as well his last before his untimely passing in 2004 due to cancer.
  • In one scene, Ray is watching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (1968). Tom Hanks would eventually play Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019).
  • According to many of the cast and crew, they felt that the Universal logo that opens the film was the coolest thing about the film since it was unique and different.
  • Ray shows Carol the book on Satanic rituals, the theory being the Klopek's have taken Walter for human sacrifice. Carol says to Ray: "I wouldn't have missed this for the world. A week (vacation) in Jonestown." A ghoulish reference to the Rev. Jim Jones and his religious cult The People's Temple. Rev. Jones moved his followers to South America.
  • Due to a previous commitment, director Joe Dante didn't work with his usual director of photography, John Hora. He hired Robert M. Stevens because he previously worked with him on Amazing Stories: Boo! (1986), and loved his work on it. Hora did eventually work on this film later on for reshoots and interior shots long after Stevens' work on the film was completed. Hora applied the same visual techniques that Stevens had done during the shoot and didn't want to disrupt the visual style with his own.
  • During the scene where Art, Rumsfield, and Ray tear through the garbage in the street as it's being picked up, one of the garbage men (Robert Picardo) argues with the other (Dick Miller) over when garbage becomes public domain, citing the curb clause. However, as the garbage was already in the truck, it is legally the city's property.
  • Production designer James H. Spencer and his crew had worked seven day work weeks to get the houses to look like they did in the film. The Klopek's house was the most time consuming due to it's dilapidated state.
  • The television station interviewing Art is WDHB. WDHB was also the television station used in another Joe Dante film, Gremlins (1984).
  • First film from Imagine Entertainment distributed by Universal Pictures, who they had a first-look deal with until 2016.
  • Robert Picardo and Dick Miller (the garbage men) both appeared in Matinee (1993), also directed by Joe Dante.
  • The plot of the bone furnace is similar to one of Brother Theodore Gottlieb's comedy routines, about his parents starting to make their "Dog Oil" from Human Corpses.
  • This was first full film that editor Marshall Harvey edited for director Joe Dante. He'd worked with Dante on the anthology comedy Amazon Women on the Moon (1987) (the unofficial sequel to The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)) which was also directed by Dante, John Landis, Carl Gottlieb and Peter Horton also released by Universal Pictures like this film was.
  • The four main character's names all also have other definitions that relate to their personalities: Art has an active imagination, Mark fancies himself a marksman, Ray gets pointed in a direction and won't stop, and Carol just wants everyone to be happy like she is.
  • When they break into Walter's house after going through the garbage, Art is seen wearing two wrist watches.
  • The Klopek's house address is 669. When Ray and Art use the heavy door knocker on their door the 9 slides down changing the Klopek's house number to 666 which is considered the 'mark of the beast' in biblical terms.
  • In the scene right before Ray's nightmare sequence, he channel surfs through three horror movies. The movies, in order, are Race with the Devil (1975), The Exorcist (1973) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986).
  • Robert Ahrens was to play Dave Peterson, but had to back out due to prior engagements.
  • Final appearance of Gale Gordon (Walter Seznick) in a motion picture. He would make a couple credited television appearances in 1991; he would pass away in 1995.
  • Tom Hanks, along with Carrie Fisher and Joe Dante, pitched in and rented Raging Waters Amusement Park out and had everybody's family come and enjoy the amusement park as a wrap party.
  • Great example of foreshadowing, after they find the femur Carol says "before anyone falls off a roof or sets themselves on fire". Later in the movie Rumsfield falls off a roof and Ray sets himself on fire.
  • Tom Hanks is reading a book about demons written by Julian Karswell. This is the name of a character who conjures a demon in the 1957 film Night of the Demon played by Niall MacGinnis.
  • During the breakfast scene, Art eats a huge breakfast, even eating the leftovers from other people's plates. In the very next scene, he's asks Ray if he wants to: "go down to the deli to get a beef sandwich."
  • Both Carrie Fischer and Wendy Schaal supplied voice work in Seth MacFarlane projects. Carrie was the voice of Angela, Peter's former boss, in Family Guy (1999) and Wendy is the voice of Francine, Stan's wife, in American Dad! (2005).
  • Gale Gordon, who played Walter Seznick, was known for his role as Mr. Wilson on Just Dennis (1959).
  • Final film and on-screen acting appearance of Theodore Gottlieb (Reuben Klopek); he would however live until 2001.
  • Nicky Katt, who played Steve Kuntz in the film (the guy in the mullet who has on the Skull Skates shirt), had a pet spider monkey. Corey Feldman learned this and told him, "Oh my God, I love monkeys. I would love to have my own monkey. I want a monkey." And Katt replied, "Dude, I'm gonna be honest with you. They're a pain in the ass." To prove his point, Katt brought the monkey to the set and it stayed in Feldman's trailer during filming. Feldman would return to his trailer to find that the monkey had spread feces around the interior. Joe Dante eventually banned the monkey from the set.
  • The daughters of executive producer Ron Howard and actor Bruce Dern would both become stars of the Jurassic Park (1993)/Jurassic World (2015) franchise--Bryce Dallas Howard and Laura Dern.
  • When the film was released in the UK, both The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) and The Exorcist (1973) were banned by the BBFC. Because of this, the sequence before Ray's nightmare was heavily cut as it featured clips from these films. After the bans were lifted, all subsequent releases had the scene restored.
  • After Tom Hanks' has the nightmare, he ia watching Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. Tom Hanks' later starred in a fictionalized move about Fred Rogers called "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood." (2019).
  • Tom Hanks and Carrie Fisher had previously co-starred in "The Man With One Red Shoe" (1985).
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