Saturday, 1 April 2017

The Burning

Year of Release:  1981
Director:  Tony Maylam
Screenplay:  Bob Weinstein and Peter Lawrence, story by Brad Grey, Tony Maylam and Harvey Weinstein
Starring:  Brian Matthews, Lou David, Leah Ayres, Brian Backer, Larry Joshua
Running Time:  91 minutes
Genre:  Horror

A bunch of teens at a summer camp play a mean trick on hated caretaker Cropsy (David).  However the prank goes badly wrong and Cropsy almost burns to death.  Five years later, another group of fun-loving teens are at another summer camp, and the hideously scarred Cropsy is lurking in the woods around the camp with large garden shears, and he is not planning on pruning the hedges.

You know the story.  Even if you've never seen The Burning, if you have ever seen any slasher films, than you've pretty much seen it.  It's regarded as a carbon copy of Friday the 13th (1980), although Harvey Weinsten apparently came up with the idea before Friday the 13th was released.  However it is a pretty basic slasher, with maybe a tad more nudity and gore than usual.  Today it is is possibly most important for what the cast and crew would do later on: Jason Alexander (George in Seinfeld) and Fisher Stevens appear in minor roles, and Holly Hunter also has a very small part in the film.  Also writers and producers Harvey and Bob Weinstein, the moguls behind Miramax Films and later The Weinstein Company, would become two of the most important figures in American independent  film.  The Weinstein's commercial instincts are certainly on display here.  They know their audience, they know what that audience wants and they deliver it.  The gory special effects, from Tom Savini, would earn the film some notoriety, particularly in Britain where it was banned as a so-called "video nasty", although it is hard to see why.  It's a film that is not particularly good or particularly bad, it just trundles along delivers the requisite amount of gore and naked breasts, and it works as an undemanding late-night guilty pleasure, but if you want to see a slasher film, than there are better out there.  It has dated though, and probably won't deliver the goods to satisfy modern horror audiences.

Shelley Bruce, George Parry, Kevi Kendall, Jason Alexander, Holly Hunter and Ame Segull in The Burning      

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