Monday, October 25, 2010

The Burning (1981)

The Burning

Written by Peter Lawrence & Bob Weinstein
Based on a story by Harvey Weinstein, Tony Maylam & Brad Grey
Directed by Tony Maylam
Todd...Brian Matthews
Michele...Leah Ayres
Alfred...Brian Backer
Glazer...Larry Joshua
Dave...Jason Alexander
Woodstock...Fisher Stevens
It's the unlikeliest team up that I have come across since Charles Barkley and Godzilla:  Bob and Harvey Weinstein, Tom Savini, that dork from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the guy from Short Circuit who wasn't Steve "The Goot" Guttenberg, George Costanza and more scattered ass than you can shake a, umm, stick at form a conglomeration of forgotten 1980s gorgonzola that is known as...THE BURNING.

Camp Crystal Lake.  Oops, I mean Camp Blackfoot.   A group of teenagers, bullied by Cropsy the Caretaker, decide to take matters into their own hands by pulling a prank on the object of their scorn.  One involving a maggot-infested human skull and a pair of lit candles.  As their leader declares, "Tonight's the night that we scare the shit out of Cropsy.  Because when he wakes up, when he sees it, he's going to have a heart attack!"  Well, he doesn't have a heart attack, but things do go awry against all expectations, and the caretaker is burned to a barely-living crisp.  The kids should have seen it coming.  Who doesn't sleep with a can of gasoline at summer camp?

Five years later, the severely scarred Cropsy is finally released from the hospital.  Being a man, his first stop is shopping for a cheap piece of ass.  Being a madman, his second stop is Camp Stonewater, only a hairs-breadth away from the now-defunct Camp Blackfoot.  And he's just in time for the annual canoe trip, too!  Breaking up the usual assortment of teenage hijinks and sexual debauchery with the usual assortment of slasher-style murders, Cropsy (who is never in full-view of the camera until the grand reveal at the finale) steadily gets his revenge--almost exclusively on those who actually had nothing to do with his disfigurement. 

If you have already grown tired of the tried-and-true slasher formula, The Burning is not going to reignite your passion.  It's a run-of-the-mill, paint-by-numbers slasher flick that has all of the expected trappings.  It's only "innovation" is trading in the standard machete for a set of gardening shears--used to pretty good effect, I must say.

Although it's not a great horror film, it is great fun.  Every once in a while, it's nice to jump into the WAYBAC machine for a little retro slice-'n'-dice, even if you know exactly how things are going to pan out.

Rated R
91 Minutes
United States



  1. The main thing wrong with THE BURNING is that in its original release, its most amazing sequence was cut: the river raft massacre, from which the poster gets its striking image of Cropsey with the shears. It was only restored on the DVD. I still think that scene is pretty shocking, considering most of the kids murdered were actually quite likeable. But yes, otherwise a run-of-the-mill slasher.

  2. Yup, the river raft scene is powerful stuff -- especially the bit with the fingers. I can also never get over the fact that I'm seeing Jason Alexander in a slasher flick. I laugh every time he appears onscreen.

  3. Holly Hunter? HOLLY Freakin' HUNTER?


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