Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Burning

 Where have you been all my life The Burning?  How could I grow up going to countless slumber parties and not see you once?  Heck, I hadn't even heard of you until you were mentioned in "HorrorHound" magazine.  This, despite starring such future Hollywood heavyweights such as Jason Alexander, Holly Hunter, and Fisher Stevens?  And really, why is Fisher Stevens?  Just asking.

The 1981 Slasher was one of the first films from "Miramax."  Yes, before producing such Oscar bait as The English Patient and The King's Speech (which I still can't believe beat The Social Network for best picture), the Brothers Weinstein were making cheapo Friday the 13th rip-offs.  The Burning begins when a Summer Camp prank goes horribly wrong.  Four teenagers decide to get even with mean old "Cropsy", the caretaker at the camp.  The prank goes pretty well until Cropsy catches on fire.  Five years later, Cropsy is released from the hospital after a series of unsuccessful skin grafts.  After killing a prostitute, Cropsy returns to the woods to wreak havoc on on the "they are to old for summer camp" teenagers staying there.

After what seems to be a million false scares, Cropsy starts a killin' and maiming a group that have gone on an extended canoe trip.  Included in this group are Jason Alexander (with a full head of hair: he is a teenager but looks about 35), Holly Hunter (who has one line but probably comes of best here), and one of my least favorite actors in the world, Fisher Stevens.  I have no reason for disliking Fisher Stevens really, I just do.  If him and Shia LaBeouf were in a film together, even if it was the most awesome thing ever filmed, I would probably actively protest it.  If Julia Roberts also starred, my head might explode. 

Back to the film.  Cropsy targets the usual suspects: teenagers having sex, the loner weirdo, anyone who goes off in the woods by themselves.  There are a few things different about this Slasher that I liked.  The first is the infamous "raft" scene.  I had heard about this and Tom Savini's amazing make-up and special effects work on it.   What I did not expect is how scary it was.  The build is well done, and when the actual slaughtering begins, it is quick and dirty and shocking.  I loved it.  The second thing I liked about this film is there is a lot of carnage, but also a lot of survivors.  Most of the kids make it out, and instead of a "final girl" we get two "final guys," including one who really should have been killed off.   It was different, and that is surprising in a cookie cutter slasher.  I also loved the 80's fashions.  They are really the best.


Will Errickson said...

I'd only heard of this movie when it came on DVD a few years ago too. The problem with THE BURNING back in the day is that in its original R-rated version, the whole raft massacre scene was cut, and seen only in flashbacks during the climax. Without that sequence, it's rather unremarkable (I saw this version at a retro movie theater recently). The DVD was thankfully unrated. But I dug that cute, likeable, innocent kids were killed, and that some there were pre-teens and totally believably freaked out. You should look into the real-life origins of the "Cropsey" legends if you haven't already.

Anonymous said...

The Burning is awesome! Glad you liked the raft scene. Even if it was intended to be a rip-off of Friday the 13th, I found The Burning to be scarier than Friday. This may be because I am one of those people who finds camps and camping to be horrifying, and so it seems like no problem to me that more that one movie would be based on camp horror. Anyway, Fisher Stevens as an actor is pretty unlikeable, I agree.

Jen said...

Thank you for the Fisher Stevens agreement. I always feel weird about pointing out actors I dislike for no real good reason: but the burning just really confirmed my dislike for FS. I agree the raft scene is great: I thought it better than anything in F13.