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Review: The Burning (1981)

Writer: Christopher Youngblood


This better than average slasher films follows all of the rules that a good 80's slasher film should follow. Based on the true upstate New York Legend of Cropsy The Maniac. Our film begins at Camp Blackfoot where a group of kids are planning a sinister prank on the cruel caretaker Cropsy. The prank goes horribly wrong and the caretaker is burned very badly as a result. After spending five years in rehabilitation in a New York City hospital Cropsy is released to find his place in the world. Seeking revenge Cropsy heads back to the sight of the brutal crime that has left him badly burned and swearing vengeance against those who caused his horrible fate. The kids at Camp Stonewater are enjoying their summer playing pranks on each other, spying on the girls in the shower and of course engaging in some sexual activities. When the older kids of the group spend a 3 night sleep over at Devils Creek they face the reality that Cropsy The Maniac is alive and real and eliminating the campers with a large pair of garden shears.

This 80's slasher film has a sister film based on the same legend of Cropsy The Maniac called Madman. However both films are entirely different from each other. The Burning featured quite a few rising stars such as: Holly Hunter, Jason Alexander and Fisher Stevens to name a few. The thing I liked about this film was the camp was believable as a real summer camp filled with a large group of kids ranging from pre-teen to teenagers who act like they are at camp. I cant stand when you watch a movie that is supposed to take place at a summer camp and there are a total of 10 people there who look far to old to be there.

The acting in the film was surprisingly good by most of the characters and it was well directed. The director Tony Maylem chose some great locations for filming and this film sported quite a few locations as well. Typically for low budget horror films there are usually only two to three locations at best but we were treated to beautiful forests, a working summer camp, a hospital and New York City itself.

Maylem also scored home when he brought Tom Savini aboard to do the effects as this film was not the least bit shy about showing gore and there is plenty of it! We get get several slit throats, a pair of large scissors brutally stabbed into a stomach, chopped off fingers, a man being burned alive and that is just naming a few of the gory deaths that are included in this picture. One very interesting point about this movie is alot of it was filmed in the daytime which is pretty rare for Summer Camp Slasher movies. The Burning tried to be original and still scary in which they have succeeded.

It's a shame this film has not had a proper DVD release yet but we can hope that one is in production somewhere with loads of special features. The Burning was easily one of the better Summer Camp slasher movies that came out of the 80's. Don't look he'll see you, Don't breathe he'll hear you, Don't move you're dead!



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