The Burning

by on Jul.10, 2010, under Daily Review

This is probably the definitive stalk n slash film which has been reproduced over and over. Based on the idea created with Friday 13th, in turn, which was lifted from Mario Bava’s Bay of Blood, the film is set in a summer camp with a crazy madman out for blood, to rip the summer kids apart for his pleasure. Where this film fits in nicely, is that the first 13th film’s murderer was not the Jason that we all know and love, but his mother out for revenge. The idea was later generated due to it’s popularity and therefore, a sequel was created with Jason in the hot seat. This idea fell hard on many of the original team and even the press, as it’s basically a re-writing, a new idea dropped on the previous film. Ridiculous, many people exclaimed. Therefore, The Burning was created. Lets make a film about a janitor ‘Cropsey’ whose been wronged by the spiteful kinds at the summer camp. He’ll be injured and disfigured and come back for revenge some time later and hack up kids forever after. It’s perfect.

Tony Maylem directs and does an amazing job here, building tension, atmosphere and encouraging a brilliant performance for his young cast. Holly Hunter, Shelley Bruce, George Parry, JR McKechnie, many of which never did much ever again, likewise, Maylem’s career plummeted. Why? I have no idea as this film stands up against the best. 13th, Freddy, Halloween; The Burning is the best.

The atmosphere drifts from an amazingly beautiful looking lake land summer camp, a time of innocence and beauty, happiness and nature with sunshine, the great outdoors. All captured here with real emotion. When the dark side comes, the film turns into something of real terror with kids being chased all over the place, fighting for survival against an unknown villain with garden shears and for a reason unknown to them. It’s fast paced but always carries with it a young emotion of distress although the optimism is alive throughout. This type of film has been remade over and over, but none capture such a youthful innocence. The tales around the campfire are some of my favourite moments in cinema.

And a final word, Tom Savini. An amazing horror makeup artist, worked on the first 13th, jumped ship to work on the Burning to create some of his finest moments. The fingers cut from the hand of the youth is something, which stays with me, even after 30 years.


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