The Burning (1981)

The Burning takes us to Camp Blackfoot, your typical American summer camp full of mischievous and horny teens.  The camp’s caretaker is Cropsy who is a miserable old git and one evening some boys play a prank on him.  Unfortunately the jokes goes sour and the caretaker is horribly burned and taken to a nearby hospital.  However, Cropsy may be disfigured but now he is royally pissed off and will return to the camp to seek his revenge.

As a new batch of victims, sorry campers arrive at Blackfoot they have no idea that Cropsy is stalking the woods with a very sharp pair of shears.  Some of the kids decide to take a boat trip down the river unknown that someone will soon be joining them and he definately won’t be welcome.

The Burning came out at the height of the slasher craze in the early 1980’s, many of these films have slipped into obscurity but this film has a lot going for it in front and behind the camera.  For a start it marked the cinematic producing debuts of the legendary Weinsteins (Miramax), awesome make-up effects from Tom Savini and a great soundtrack by Rick Wakeman.  In front of the camera there were early roles for Holly Hunter, Fisher Stevens and Jason Alexander.

The film was originally one of the infamous ‘Video Nasties’ in the UK and various video shops got into trouble for stocking this title.  The film was released by a big player in video (Thorn EMI) who accidentally put out the ultra violent version instead of the censored BBFC version.  They even asked for shops to send the uncut version back so they could give them a copy of the cut version as it proved so controversial at the time.

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Yes, it is violent but probably no more than any other slasher but the kills are grim and cruel with Savini’s effects standing the test of time well.  There’s literally stacks of special features on board this Arrow Video release including commentaries, a chat with Rick Wakeman regarding his score and a stills gallery amongst others.  It’s being released first in a really cool steelbook and later on in a standard case.

If you want to know more out the actual legend of ‘Cropsey’ in which The Burning uses some of it’s folklore, check out the terrific documentary of the same name.  It can easily be picked up online and Netflix has it.

The Burning is one of the best slashers out there and you could call it a bit of a classic of it’s type, it’s certainly a lot better than some of the crap made around the same time.  I’ve always liked it and if you haven’t got it, you could a lot worse than picking it up otherwise Cropsy might pay you a visit.

  • Starring Lou David  Brian Backer  Leah Ayres  Fisher Stevens
  • Director Tony Maylam
  • Distributor Arrow Video  (Released in the US by Scream Factory)