First Posted: 9/22/2014
The 1980’s gave us many wonderful things like Garbage Pail Kids, neon spandex, and Debbie Gibson. OK maybe not that many “wonderful” things, but the 80’s did give us a slew of fantastic slasher films!
While the slasher genre eventually ran itself into the ground due to the high volume of output, during the early days of the genre there were some classic and genuinely scary ones, but unfortunately many have been forgotten over time. One of these forgotten gems is The Burning.
While the film has developed a cult following over the years for a long time it was only known amongst horror film diehards on VHS and did not have a proper DVD release until 2007 despite being released in 1981!
The plot is fairly straightforward and begins in 1976, at Camp Blackfoot, when several campers pull a prank on the caretaker, “Cropsy”. During the night they sneak into his cabin and set up a worm infested skull next to his bed with candles in the eye sockets, as you do. When Cropsy is awoken by the campers banging on his window, he is so frightened by the skull that he knocks it onto his bed where it ignites his sheets and clothes. Aflame, Cropsy leaps from his bed and knocks over a gas tank, causing flames to spread through the cabin. The boys watch in shock as Cropsy, engulfed in flames, stumbles out and falls into a river.
The story picks up five years later where Cropsy is still recovering in the hospital from the burns that covered his body. He is miraculously released and of course begins a killing spree by first dispatching of a prostitute in nearby his hotel room. After this he sets out to another summer camp, Camp Stonewater, to plot his revenge.
Upon arriving at the camp Cropsy slowly stalks and kills the campers in classic slasher style. The main difference with The Burning versus all of the other slasher films is that when Cropsy begins to kill it is much more violent and malicious.
Cropsy’s weapon of choice is shears which he puts to use stabbing his victims and slashing their throats, and in one rather infamous canoe scene dispatching of the campers in a very over the top manner the likes of which has rarely been seen in a slasher film.
The campers soon close in on Cropsy, again following the standard slasher film tropes. However, the ending has a full reveal of Cropsy that ranks among the best reveals in horror films. Also the ending of this film leaves the viewer satisfied, unlike many other slasher films of the time.
While this is a forgotten gem to the wider public, horror fanatics have long known about the greatness of The Burning. It is a bit more violent than the standard slasher fare of the decade. However it is still rather tongue in cheek and is a clear insight into the great 80’s slasher films that followed this classic.
Final Verdict: The Burning is a classic in the slasher film genre. Those who love Jason, Freddy, or Michael Myers will surely love and appreciate this film in its own right. If you consider yourself a fan of all things horror see this film immediately!
Where can I get it? : The Burning was a hard film to find on anything but VHS for many years but thankfully due to the cult like following it has accumulated over the years it is available on DVD at many retail outlets, but it may be easier to find online through Best Buy, Amazon, or Overstock.com. In 2013 Shout! Factory gave The Burning the Blu-ray treatment and that is now widely available at the aforementioned retailers as well!