After Friday The 13th hit big, there was a rush to cash in on that popularity. A lot of knock-offs came and went. The Burning is not one of them. It had been in various states of concept and production before Mrs.V went on her rampage of revenge.
It is based around some Yankee urban legend about a group of your typical summer camp teens who play a ” prank” on the rummy caretaker. The prank goes a little bit out of control, as these things do. The caretaker, Cropsy, gets 3rd degree burns all over his body, and especially his face.
A few years and many failed skin grafts later, Cropsy comes out of the hospital looking like his throat threw-up. Please note: I had a much better joke for that but it is way too edgy to pass muster with the editor and would probably anger many readers. If you want the hard-R-rated super offensive joke, ask for it in the comments.
He immediately goes to a whore house to drown his sorrows in some vagine. The Soiled Dove can’t get it wet for all his money, as he looks like a melted wax figure. In a fit of understandable rage, he does what we have all wanted to do at some point and stabs a prostitute to death with some scissors.
After the cathartic release of murder, Cropsy decides to get some pruning shears and head for the summer camp where he got napalmed by those prick teens. Several years have passed and a new group of horny and dumb teens are at the camp. Once Cropsy arrives, the fun starts.
The high-point of this movie is the raft slaughter. Slasher movies always have a high body count, but usually, they are picked off one at a time. The killer methodically singles one teen out and then goes in for the kill. In this movie, we get a glorious mass slaughter. Cropsy lures in and ambushes an entire group. Watching a maniac kill teenagers with giant, razor-sharp shears is glorious.
The Burning is kind of a weird proto-slasher. Some of the major cliches of the genre are absent while others are firmly in place. The major omission is the lack of a “Final Girl”, which is refreshing if you have seen a lot of slashers before you get to this one. The tone is a little different compared to most slashers, too.
Like The Prowler, this one is mean and nasty. The little bits of comedy and black humor you expect in slashers are not there. Cropsy isn’t even really that bad of a guy if you think about it. Just some down-on-his-luck drunk working a shit job who gets horribly disfigured by middle-class spoiled teens. Certainly, he isn’t a pedo like Freddy.
The cannon fodder kids are so-so likable. Some of the cast even went on to be huge stars, including Holly Hunter and Fisher Stevens.
Not a hit at the time. It’s a cult favorite now. I won’t rate it because it may confuse fans of the genre. Comparing it to its peers is hard to do because it is kind of unique for an early 1980s slasher. I do highly recommend checking it out if you are a fan of the genre.
There are a few cuts of this film out there due to some heavy censorship when it came out but you can find the uncut full gore version now pretty easy. If you want the uncut version on Blu-Ray, Shout Factory has you covered.
A bit of trivia. This movie was written by Peter Lawrence and a certain Bob Weinstein, based on a treatment by Harvey Weinstein. The production company behind this movie would eventually change its name, inspired by Harvey and Bob Weinstein’s parents names, Miriam and Max.
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