Joe Dante's dark comedy is about the suburbs and the crazy people who live there.
It begins with the camera descending from outer space, zooming in to the average American cul-de-sac. The "aliens" in this film, though, are new neighbors, whose dilapidated mansion emits a strange hum at night.
Suburbia is a seemingly-idyllic, but infernal world: Vietnam vet Mark Rumsfield, bare-chested and with military shades, raises the flag on his yard and steps in dog poop, Art Weingartner nearly kills Ray while trying to shoot some crows, and Ray is attacked by killer bees when he tries to speak with the new neighbors. Soon the mysterious Klopeks, who only go outside for nocturnal digging sessions, until the men of the subdivision are plagued with paranoia and visions of human sacrifice. At this point, it's up to the wives to get them invited into the mausoleum, where Ray is given sardines and pretzels to show what he is made of under the scrutiny of Uncle Reuben and Werner emerges from his basement in red-soaked duds. ("Sometimes I get carried away.")
Dante has a knack for finding the comedy in the normality of American suburbia. The 'Burbs isn't by any means a deep film, but it is certainly an enjoyable one, and so quintessentially '80s.