The Burning (1981)

The Burning (1981) movie poster

director Tony Maylam
viewed: 10/24/2015

Who knew that The Burning, a solid slasher from the true heyday of the genre, was the first big feature film for the Miramax boys Harvey and Bob Weinstein?  And rather than hunting for films already made or talent already in development, the story emanated right from their heads, Bob even co-screen credit.

When the drunken camp handyman gets horribly burned by a prank gone awry, he somehow manages to survive his injuries, break loose upon New York City (briefly) and then take out his vengeance on all the campers he can get his trimming shears on.  That’s about all the story you need in a movie like this.

Loosely based on the Staten Island urban legend of Cropsey (given its due in the 2009 documentary of the same name), The Burning also features such unusual early roles for the likes of Jason Alexander, Holly Hunter, Fisher Stevens, and Brian Backer (the latter of Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1981) fame).  On top of all that, the gory FX are crafted by the ever-invented Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead (1978), Maniac (1980) & Friday the 13th (1980), to name but a few).

The early 1980’s are crowded with summer camp slashers, but this is indeed another one that should not be overlooked.  Its connections and competitors have their merits but The Burning is a very competent flick, featuring some good gore moments courtesy of Savini, some gratuitous nudity courtesy of the period, and some good character courtesy of all involved.

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