THE BURNING

PrintE-mail Written by Courtney Button

The Burning is one of a spate of low budget slasher films that appeared in the ‘70s and ‘80s. It was banned as it got embroiled in the Conservative crusade that was The Video Nasties scandal and is largely overlooked in place of other similar films of the time such as Friday the 13th and Sleepaway Camp with its notorious finale twist. The Burning surprisingly features quite a few film heavy hitters featuring the work of Tom Savini, launching the careers of Harvey and Bob Weinstein and, mostly enjoyably, it stars Seinfeld’s very own George Costanza, Jason Alexander, who looks exactly the same in his teens as he does now. With the new release, from cult film giants Arrow Film, it is time for The Burning to have a proper reappraisal.

When a prank goes wrong, the janitor of a summer camp suffers horrific burns. Many years later after he has recovered, he heads back to the camp to exact his revenge with a large pair of garden shears.

The Burning may not be the most original film, especially as time has rendered its plot points as clichés. There’s the summer camp, the horny teens, the masked killer picking them off one by one, usually after sex. However, The Burning manages to be a lot of fun and remembers to do something which a lot of horror films, especially the mainstream horrors of today forget, and that is to bide its time. The film builds up some tension with teases and POV shots but doesn’t blow its load until its third act where masked villain Cropsey really gets to work with those gardening tools. Watching the film now, it’s difficult to see why it fuelled such outrage. The special effects, by effects maestro Tom Savini, are bloody and gory but they do come across a little tame by today’s standards.

The Burning has an enjoyable set of characters that you actually like spending time with. Some of the guys are a bit sexually aggressive but the women hold their own and everyone gets their comeuppance by the end. The bond and dialogue between the characters feels natural and is fun to watch, so you are entertained even before the limbs start flying. A late stage twist is unnecessary and a little obvious but it doesn’t detract from the film.

The Burning has of course aged a bit but is a surprisingly enjoyable watch. It manages to create some tension, the characters are largely enjoyable and the special effects from Tom Savini hold up well. Mostly forgotten now, The Burning is one of the better slasher films from the 1980’s.

THE BURNING / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: TONY MAYLAM / SCREENPLAY: BOB WEINSTEIN, PETER LAWRENCE / STARRING: BRIAN MATTHEWS, LEAH AYRES, LOU DAVID, BRIAN BACKER / RELEASE DATE: 19TH DECEMBER


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