Along with his frequent collaborator Steven Spielberg, director Joe Dante is one of the key filmmakers who impacted the minds of ’80s kids. He doesn’t just have “Gremlins” to his name; he has “Innerspace,” “The Howling,” “Explorers,” to say nothing of the superior, enjoyably insane “Gremlins 2.” He also has 1989’s “The ’Burbs,” a gently savage takedown of comfortable, bored middle class life. A never more aloof Tom Hanks plays a planned community dweller coaxed into suspecting his new neighbors, led by Henry Gibson, of being something more sinister than mere weirdos.
The studios, as they often did with Dante’s work, released a slightly neutered cut, with a cleaner, happier ending (if you can call it that). But Dante’s puckish anger still shines through, and Hanks allows himself to be upstaged by game costars Bruce Dern and Rick Ducommun — one of Dante’s many character actor finds, albeit one who sadly never quite caught on. Dante has a new film — the indie horror-comedy “Burying the Ex,” his first American theatrical release since 2003’s hobbled but underrated “Looney Tunes: Back in Action” — and there’s no better way to celebrate that than dipping into his rich, sometimes neglected back catalog.