Horror Movie Review: The Burning (1981)

A video nasty on the classier end of the spectrum (in regard to quality), The Burning is a time-capsule of 80’s horror. Although it unashamedly rips off the likes of Friday the 13th, it is an enjoyable campy movie.

It has great direction from Tony Maylam, great effects from Tom Savini and great acting from future stars like Jason Alexander, Holly Hunter and Fisher Stevens.

Cropsy (Lou David), the caretaker of Camp Blackfoot is not as popular man. So hated is he that a group of campers pull a prank on him. One that goes wrong and results in him going up in flames.

He does survive though and spends the next five years in hospital. Grotesque and deformed, he is released with doctors unable to do anything more for him. A bad idea as he soon comes across a prostitute and murders her.

Now armed with a pair of garden sheers, he sets off to anther Summer camp called Camp Stonewater.

A huge cast makes it hard to really get to know anyone too well at first, but the film does change focus to just a handful eventually. The outcast (sort of) Alfred (Brian Backer), Glazer (Larry Joshua), Sally (Carrick Glenn), Woodstock (Fisher Stevens), Dave (Jason Alexander), Eddy (Ned Eisenberg) and Karen (Carolyn Houlihan).

This group (alongside others) are taken on a canoe trip to Devil’s Creek by camp counsellors Todd (Brian Matthews) and Michelle (Leah Ayres). It is here that Cropsy chooses to strike, hunting and murdering the campers one by one. Why? Well, one of them has links to the fire that made him the way he is.

Although admittedly, it’s never made clear whether Cropsy or the person in question even actually know that.

The Burning would be a standard slasher rip-off if it wasn’t for its willingness to get gory and its cast. A whole load of likeable characters played with gusto by a set of quality actors. It’s the former though that would see it fall foul of the censors during the video nasty panic. Something, as always, that isn’t easy to understand now, The Burning does standout amongst the 80’s fare by being willing to show almost all the violence close up. Once you’ve seen it. The raft slaughter won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

As one of the video nasties, it’s up there as one of the best. As a stand-alone horror, it’s got plenty to enjoy provided you can look past its total lack of originality.


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The Burning
  • The Final Score - 7.5/10
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