10 movie neighbours Ramsay Street would hate
Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours. Unless you want to make an entertaining film that is, then having a load of total scumbags as your neighbours is much more promising scenario. Bad Neighbours is hardly the first comedy to use the crap neighbour scenario for laughs, but c’mon: if you’ve ever had a bad neighbour, you know it stops being funny in the first 10 minutes and then it’s nothing but pain. Much like The ‘Burbs. How can you miscast John Belushi? Worst bad neighbour comedy ever. Anyway, here’s 10 films that treat bad neighbours seriously. Just missing out: any film set in a country next to Germany pre World War II.
10. The Stepford Wives
You’d think living in Stepford would actually be pretty awesome neighbour-wise, what with all the women being perfect housewives and all the men off at their shadowy “Men’s Association” clubhouse every night. Oh wait, turns out all the men are jerks so scared of women they have their wives murdered and replaced with perfect robot doubles. That’s pretty much lose-lose neighbour wise. You know how boring some guys are when talking about their cars? Imagine what it’d be like when they could talk technical about their robot wives.
9. The King is Dead
A young couple (Dan Wylie, Bojana Novakovic) buy their dream house in a quiet street, only to discover that while on one side lives a chef with friendly kids on the other side is an equally friendly drug dealer named ‘The King’ (Gary Waddell). As for his friends? They aren’t very friendly at all. Director Rolf Van de Heer is better known for more arthouse fare such as Bad Boy Bubby and Twelve Canoes, but this character comedy is well worth checking out for probably the most spot-on characterisation of a low-level criminal type in Australian cinema.
8. Lakeview Terrace
Worried about neighbour trouble? Why not live next door to a cop? It sounds like a cast-iron guarantee of peaceful nights and prompt responses to neighbourhood trouble… unless the cop is LAPD officer Abel Turner (Samuel L Jackson). He’s not a happy man and one of the oh so many things that makes him unhappy is interracial relationships, which is extremely bad news for Chris and Lisa (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington). Though to be fair, they did start it by having sex in their backyard where Turner’s kids could see. But trashing their air conditioning? Shining a searchlight into their bedroom window? Seems a bit excessive. Good thing cops don’t have guns around the home… oh, wait.
Ok, so this is basically a young adult version of Rear Window, with Shia LaBoeuf in the Jimmy Stewart role as the guy stuck at home – in this case Kale (LaBoeuf) is under house arrest after acting out in the wake of his father’s death – and David Morse as the sinister neighbour up to no good. But for a knock off it’s pretty entertaining, and Morse (who’s got an entire murder factory set up in his basement) is somebody you don’t want living in the same state as you, let alone living across the road. Moral of the story: living across from a serial killer can really cut into your couch make-out time.
6. Pacific Heights
Here’s a twist: this time the bad neighbour is someone the good neighbours could actually do something about, because he’s their tenant. Unfortunately for them, he knows every trick in the book, refuses to pay rent, trashes the place, steals the husbands identity, slaps the wife around in his spare time and then takes out a restraining order on the two of them because clearly they’re the ones cramping his style. Wasn’t this a story on last nights A Current Affair? Oh, and he’s played by Michael Keaton, so you know if he wants to annoy you, you’re going to stay annoyed.
5. Barton Fink
If Hollywood has taught us anything over the years, it’s that having a jolly fat guy next to you is a fast track to a living hell. Here the jolly fat man de jour is John Goodman, a travelling salesman holed up in the same hotel as struggling scriptwriter B. Fink (John Turturro). Tip for struggling writers; a sure-fire cure for writers block is to have your next door neighbour burn down your hotel while running amok with a shotgun and screaming “I’ll show you the life of the mind!”. Oh wait, someone’s already written that script.
4. Better Off Dead
When you’re a teenager, all your (adult) neighbours are bad. But when Lane Meyer (John Cusack) sees that the creepy folks across the road have somehow managed to obtain a cute French exchange student, he thinks maybe they’re not all bad after all. WRONG. They’ve basically procured this poor girl to mate with the hideous man-child “Wicky” and will do anything short of beating Lloyd with sticks to keep him away from her.
3. Arlington Road
Jeff Bridges’ life is all messed up after the death of his wife – she was a FBI agent killed in an anti-terrorist operation, which back in the '90s meant creepy White Supremacists which in all-white Hollywood means TRUST NO-ONE – so when some friendly new folks move into the neighbourhood he’s happy to finally have something to take his mind off terrorists. Surprise! His new neighbours are terrorists too. Some guys just have the worst luck.
2. Straw Dogs
Usually in bad neighbour films it’s pretty clear from the start that folks just aren’t going to get along. What makes this film work (aside from director Sam Peckinpah’s determination to make pretty much everyone a massive jerk) is that Dustin Hoffman’s smarmy, prissy Professor actually tries to get along with the brutish townsfolk he’s got working on his barn. And what does he get for his troubles? They leave him wandering around out in the woods while they go back and rape his wife, only for a while there she’s kind of into it because her husband’s such a wimp. No wonder the Professor ends up basically cutting a guy in half with a man trap.
1. Fright Night
What could be worse than having a real-live (unlive? Is that a word?) vampire as a neighbour? Nothing. But then again, having a vampire – and a sexy one at that – as your neighbour in the middle of suburban USA didn’t seem to be much of a problem in the Twilight films. Really, how did no-one notice that Fright Night and Twilight are basically the exact same film? Oh right, because Fright Night featured a real vampire – you know, the kind that eats people. Because that’s kinda what vampires do.