In February of 1989, Joe Dante snuck a horror movie into a major studio family comedy like a family of murderers sneaking onto the quiet streets of suburban America. Audiences going to theaters for the new Tom Hanks movie—fresh off his first Best Actor Oscar nomination for Big—didn’t know what they were in for until it was too late. The movie was The ’Burbs, and though it was a box office success at the time, it has come to enjoy the kind of cult fandom typically reserved for movies misunderstood in their day. It’s the rare movie that has enjoyed the best of both worlds.
Living in two worlds is what The ’Burbs does best. It’s both a broad comedy and a sharp satire. It’s a family comedy and a horror movie. It’s Rear Window and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. It’s a