Ray Peterson (Tom Hanks) is on holiday at home, looking for some peace and quiet. However Ray’s peace is shattered when he and his neighbours realise that nobody as seen Walter (Gale Gordon) since the new family, The Klopeks, moved in. Together with neighbours Lt. Mark Rumsfield (Bruce Dern) a crazed ex solider, and Art Weingartner (Rick Ducommun), they come to the conclusion that foul play is involved. They begin spying on The Klopeks, believing them to be part of a cannibalistic cult.
Even though the paranoid trio have it fixed that their neighbours are cannibals, Ray’s wife Carol (Carrie Fisher) and Rumsfield’s wife Bonnie (Wendy Schaal) try to convince them it’s all in their heads. Are the guys paranoid? Or is there something far more sinister at work in the basement of The Klopek’s house? The Klopeks are played by Henry Gibson who plays Dr. Werner Klopek, Brother Theodore (Uncle Reuben Klopek) and Courtney Gains (Hans Klopek). They all play their parts wonderfully, really creating an atmosphere an menace, which makes you think that Ray and Co. may not be that crazy after all.
The final third is wonderfully manic. The director Joe Dante is clearly having a ball and really lets rip. This film was woefully under appreciated upon release. The blend of dark comedy and horror really didn’t sit well with audiences. Which I find odd. I first watched this way back in ’91 and I just loved it. I lived in a cul-de-sac just like Ray and his neighbours do, so the whole premise really resonated with me. Mainly because as a kid I was always overly suspicious of everyone. The set used for the neighbourhood is the same one that was used for Desperate Housewives, so some viewers may find themselves recognizing it.
I just adore this film. I make no secret about this. It’s a film that has been in my overall top 10 for years. It’s a film that I never get bored of watching, and one that I feel still holds up to repeated viewings. I find it hard that there is anyone out there who has never seen this film. If there is however, then I strongly urge you to give it a watch. It’s deliciously dark and has some great comedy.