The Burning (1981)

Probably the best way to describe The Burning is that it’s a post Friday The 13th knock-off and an interesting conversation piece.

It features a gonzo Exorcist-meets-Yes score by Rick Wakeman, a script that was doctored by future film scumbags Bob and Harvey Weinstein, and some recognizable actors in teeny teen roles—and in the case of Holly Hunter, make that downright microscopic.

Yes, that’s Seinfeld foil Jason Alexander as Dave, a wisecracking camper (with a full head of hair!) who miraculously doesn’t get his jugular severed by Cropsy (Lou David), the hideously scarred former camp caretaker out for bloody revenge.

Nutshell: A bunch of snotty boys at summer camp punk Cropsy, the alcoholic caretaker, by placing a burning skull next to his bed. Things get shitty real fast as the clumsy bum catches himself on fire and spends the next five years fuming in a hospital while his doctors point and laugh at his freaky face.

Eventually Cropsy leaves, kills a hooker to get warmed up and goes back to camp to carve up the current crop of kids. His weapon of choice is a deluxe pair of hedge clippers.

Were the writers inspired by Cropsey, the legendary Staten Island boogeyman? Well, duh!

Seeing the likes of Alexander, Larry Joshua (The Rundown, NYPD Blue), Leah Ayers (Bloodsport), Fisher Stevens (Short Circuit) and Brian Backer (Fast Times at Ridgemont High) pay their dues as Doomed Campers is worth a giggle or two, but sadly, The Burning is slower than my Granny’s bowels.

It takes a whole friggin’ hour for the first camper to get carved! Note to the writing department: we do not now, nor have we ever given a shit who has the hots for whom—unless it leads to a nude scene.

Too much yakkin’ and not enough whackin’ is no way to create horror history.

Fortunately, the brothers Weinstein and director Tony Maylam had the good sense to leave the gruesome special effects to the best in the business, namely Tom Savini (Friday The 13th, Dawn of the Dead, Maniac, and so many more).

So by the time Cropsy finally gets around to some serious slicing and dicing, the blood arrives in buckets, including a sensational canoe sequence where he wastes five kids in a flurry fit for a ninja.

Worth a look.


Author: oldsharky

Sensible writer/editor with sparkling credentials who would happily work for you at a reasonable rate. I moonlight as a bass player, beer enthusiast, Trail Blazers fan, dog fancier, and horror movie fanatic. Sometimes I think about daily events too much and require a little help to clarify and process the deluge of information.

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