The Burning is one of the more celebrated entries into the slasher genre. Released in 1981, it found itself in competition with titles such as Friday The 13th Part II, Halloween II, and My Bloody Valentine. But what makes it such a classic? Read on to find out…
The Burning takes the urban legend of Cropsy the caretaker, and brings it to the silver screen. Cropsy is the caretaker at Camp Blackfoot. Unpopular with the staff and kids, some campers decide to prank him. Unfortunately, the prank goes horribly wrong, and Cropsy is left seriously burned and disfigured.
After 5 years of convalescence, Cropsy is released from hospital. But the scars run deeper than just physically. After slaughtering a hooker who was repulsed by his appearance, Cropsy heads to another nearby camp. There, he engages in a deadly game of cat and mouse, killing the counsellors, taking his revenge. Can anyone stop him before everyone dies?
The Burning is one of the better made slasher films. Made for a comparatively healthy budget of $1.5m, much of the budget is up on the screen. The film is quite well shot, with some nice camera work helping set the mood. The film also has a solid cast, featuring as it does the film debuts of Jason Alexander and Holly Hunter. The true star of the show, however, if the effects work. Tom Savini handled the gore, and it ranks amongst his finest work. Indeed, his work was so gruesome that The Burning ran into censorship problems. Both the MPAA in America, and the BBFC in Britain insisted on significant cuts being made to the film. Indeed, it wasn’t until the early 2000s that the film was available in its original, uncut form.
Another facet of the production that helps The Burning stand out is the Rick Wakeman composed score. The involvement of Wakeman added a layer of “class” to the production it otherwise lacked.
The film itself is a fine example of the genre. Suspense is built, killings are staged with aplomb, and you genuinely wonder who will survive the films bodycount.
Arrow Films have put together a brilliant set of extras for this release. Here is what you can expect:
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
- Original mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Audio commentary with director Tony Maylam and critic Alan Jones
- Audio commentary with stars Shelley Bruce and Bonnie Deroski
- Brand new audio commentary with The Hysteria Continues
- Blood ‘n’ Fire Memories – a look at the creation of the film’s make-up effects with FX artist Tom Savini
- Slash & Cut – an interview with editor Jack Sholder
- Cropsy Speaks – an interview with actor Lou David
- Summer Camp Nightmare – an interview with actress Leah Ayres
- Synthly the Best – a brand new interview with composer Rick Wakeman
- Behind-the-Scenes Footage
- Theatrical Trailer
- Image Galleries
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and new artwork by Justin Erickson
The Burning: On fire, or a damp squib?
I have no reservations in recommending The Burning as a purchase for any horror fan.
5/5 Fiends. Bloody essential.