The Burning (1981)

   

Directed by: Tony Maylam

Written by: Peter Lawrence

Story by: Harvey Weinstein, Tony Maylam & Brad Grey

Starring:

Brian Matthews .... Todd
Leah Ayres .... Michelle
Brian Backer .... Alfred
Larry Joshua .... Glazer
Jason Alexander .... Dave
Ned Eisenberg .... Eddy
Carrick Glenn .... Sally
Carolyn Houlihan .... Karen
Fisher Stevens .... Woodstock
Shelley Bruce .... Tiger
Lou David .... Cropsy

Special Appearance:

Holly Hunter .... Sophie

Release Date: Theatrical: May 8, 1981

Rating:

 

A bunch of kids at a campground in New York called Camp Blackwood seeks revenge on a sadist camp caretaker who carried garden shears with him named Cropsy (Lou David) by trying to scare him as that was exactly we he did to the kids but however the prank goes too far as he is badly burned as well as the campground and then sent to a hospital.

Five years later Crospy has recovered but badly scarred as he returns to the campground for revenge as a nearby camp starts up as kids are trying to enjoy themselves by playing softball, hiking, swimming, canoe riding and camping out as well.
However, one of the kids named Alfred (Brian Backer) doesn't feel like he fits in and has a hard time making friends with the rest. Plus, he is bullied by one of the tougher kids named Glazer (Larry Joshua) which makes his summer tougher for him.
However, the counsellor named Todd (Brian Matthews) tries to help him out as much as he can but he tells the kids a campfire tale about Cropsy and during that night Alfred claimed he saw Cropsy staring at his window but no one believes him.

Suddenly one of the girls named Karen (Carolyn Glenn) gets hacked in the throat by garden shears and then is taken away. The campers look for her as they are concerned but they suddenly become Cropsy's next target till he has a deadly plan for one of the people running the camp.

 

We spot good shots on some teenage supporting actors planning a prank and then nice shots on Todd going into a cabin to set up the prank. There's also good close up shots on Cropsy sleeping in his bed. However when he freaks out it looks very phony and not intense enough like you'd expect when a deadly prank like this happens. But we have a nice shot of him on fire spinning around as well as him running and rolling down to a lake.
Things seem awfully corny and cheesy in which we have two hospital employees having a discussion on how burnt Cropsy is and going into his room to find out which looked a bit amaeteurishly done on how all this was set. However there's a not too bad shot on Cropsy's arm shooting out and grabbing one of them. Yet this was supposed to have made you jump but misses a bit on this scene.

A nice shot on Crospy walking out of his wheelchair to some doors of a hospital letting himself out.
There's a scene in the city with Cropsy and a prositute in a hotel room but it looks lacking on how her situation with him is like as well as a deadly moment surrounding her in which this doesn't look the least bit intense. While spotting this you'd think to yourself if the story stays in this mode we're in trouble but it does get better.
A nice outdoor setting of kids playing softball and a good moment between the campers Dave and Eddy discussing a hot girl on one of the bases which gives you that Meatballs type of appeal especially close up shots on her bikini type shorts too which adds some nice flavor to the start on a slasher flick.
We have a good moment with one of the girls Tiger going into the woods to look for a softball with a camera approaching her. Next, a great shot on some garden shears ready to kill. This adds some neat cheesy suspense here.
A good shot on the innocent type named Sally taking a shower and suddenly hearing a noise with her trying to find out where it's coming from as this looks slightly chilling wondering if the killer will appear to get her since a shower scene is often a traditional moment in a horror flick. This looked well put in.
Of course what is nicely put in by spotting the head bully at the camp named Glazer picking on a smaller kid whom is Alfred and get forceful towards him which can make you cringe reminding you of your younger years being pitted against someone especially on him discussing to keep his eyes off of a girl he likes. This was also perfectly written in too.
A nice shot on Alfred standing on a pier not knowing how to swim with a perfect fast action camera shot zooming in on him as you get the impression that someone is going to push him in the lake.
We spot the bully Glazier swimming to another pier and trying to act charming towards the girls there which seemed pretty impressive on young girls who enjoy a bad boy like him since most highschool girls seems to attact drama like him. This was well put in.
A great moment here is with a bunch of kids helping Alfred with his problems agains Glazer picking on him about to aim a pellet gun at him which can grow a smile on your face and thinking of a vengeful moment with nasty kids and what will come to them.
A great camera shot lurking towards a cabin window at night but then we spot Alfred looking at the window and briefly spot a scarred face looking at him which was supposed to look scary yet it looks like someone wearing a mask. Pretty cheap here although Tom Savini did the effects for this flick whom is a horror wizard for this type of stuff.
There's a nice dark moment with Woodstock walking to his cabin and then someone coming in and he is about to activate his flashlight. This for sure makes you cringe a bit wondering if the killer is coming in for the kill.
We see a nice setting of a campfire hosted by Todd telling the story of what happened to Cropsy but yet the setting is totally ripped off from Friday the 13th Part 2 if you watch the campfire tale on that one but there are good close up shots on the cast at the campfire. Yet this seemed to inspire the makers to do Madman with this scenario as well. So hats off to Lawrence regardless for writing this scene in.
There's a perfect shot on two teenagers skinnydipping in a pond at night as one of them tries to act forceful and the other one hesitates as you wonder if this will get more serious leading to a problem. Plus we spot the girl trying to find her clothes thats being hung on branches as on how this was done you truly feel sorry for her when she tries to get them. Plus this makes you cringe once more and having a feeling that the killer is behind all of this to trap her in to his next killing.
We spot Glazer acting lustfully forceful towards Sally with her acting hesitant at times in which this looked impressive as you wonder if he will pursue to rape her or not along with Afred watching them nearby. This also gives you the chills wonder if Glazer will spot him and kick his ass.
A perfect shot on Cropsy's legs between Sally in the sleeping bag trying to hold back his shears. This was a memorable moment while watching the film. Also a great side shot on what happens to Glazer near a tree as this looked perfectly dark to watch too.
Also we spot some teens on a raft and spotting a rowboat hoping to find one of the campers there in which it certainly looked suspenseful with the camera shots approaching closer to this boat with everything so still as you get the creepy feeling that something terrifying will happen here. It looked well done. Also very shocking to spot on what happens later here anmd great close up shots within all of this.

Great moments with Michelle swimming towards a lifeless raft as well as a good shocking and gross out surprise on what we find out that's on it. This for sure is powerful to watch this along with the reactions towards her and the kids at the pier.
There's a perfect dark setting on Todd in a run down mine shaft holding an axe along with some good flashback sequences involved from the beginning of this film revealing on why this incident came to be involving Cropsy on his vengeful killings at the camp 5 years later. Perfectly well done here as well as a good struggling battle between Todd and Cropsy.
The ending scene with a new camp counsellor telling the tale of Crospy at a campfire was an absolute classic!
Bottom line: If you have Friday the 13th and Sleepaway Camp what do you get??? You get this film. Although many put this one down and is easily forgotten I very much enjoyed this as it had a killer, summer camp, mean kids, pranksters and the slayings. What more can you ask for?
The film was made on a bit of a lower budget than Friday the 13th and not as suspenseful but so what??? It still carries on it's own and a shame a sequel never arose but again probably no interest as this one came out the same year with other slashers which were close to being obscure and were trying to be just as popular like Graduation Day, My Bloody Valentine and Just Before Dawn.
There's many great scene's making it look like a typical camp with teenage kids and counsellors playing softball and other activities with the killer watching all of this. Plus there's great realistic look at school bullies too against a put upon kid which shows nice chemistry for a typical kids summer camp. Especially with the girls wooing for the bully liking the rebellious types.
Of course we take a peek at the girls showers too which seems suitable for a slasher film with the boys trying to peek at them and a bit of sex too which works well before the killer is about to do them in.
You never know when this killer will show up next which is terrifically paced and how menacing and deadly he can be.
This film isn't original since it's been done before and we all know who this killer is in which most slasher films the killer is a mystery till close to the end. Yet it's nicely done and very entertaining and enjoyable too and somewhat a cult classic even if it's not a mainstream flick.

Many of these actors started out on this film and some moved on to be household names just like anyone starting off doing low budget horror. Their acting is good for it's time by most of them but there are moments it's a little rough.
Brian Matthews
(Todd) pulls his character off as a laid back camp counsellor but gets strict when he needs to which he seems to play around not too bad. Does a nice job whenever he gets stern or aggressive showing a good hyped up type of attitude. Does really well by coming down on someone for pulling something off and getting strong with his actions while doing this. Plus knew on how to get stern and strict in a brief scene towards a bully which he seemed to show a good drive on handling a situation like this coming off marvellously. Was perfect with his dark speaking and showing high energy while telling a campfire tale.
Leah Ayres
(Michelle) pulls off her part as a counsellor for the girls very clearly and is very impressive. She does a good job coming down on someone while discussing an immoral situation as this came to life a great deal. She also shows a nice type of understanding appeal to her role as well as coming across as charming too which looked nice to watch her perform like this. Plus she shows terrific energy too especially with her screaming reactions to something gruesome as well as trying to hold everything together and acting believeably courageous.
Brian Backer
(Alfred) was better in his part in Fast Times at Ridgemont High but still seemed fairly okay as his part as a put upon teen at the camp. He needed some improvement while being scolded with his choked out words while trying to explain himself. His performance here was a bit rough. He was slightly off a little when he panicks explaining that someone is killed but yet does well by acting anxious with his choked words so he was at it half and half here. There's great menacing expressions by him towards the near end of his performance during a battle.
Larry Joshua
(Glazer) played a perfect bully at the camp showing great menacing attitude as he was believeable by acting threatening as well. He shows this off powerfully towards someone else by showing a nice brute force with his blocking and dominating attiude as this was also brought to life greatly. Does well by acting charming to some girls on a pier in which he showed a nice versatality with his behavior here. Shows off a nice macho attitude too as this comes across perfectly well performed here too. Plus does a great job by screaming in pain after being shot by a pellet as well as yelling out in anger which looked pretty energised. Also does a nice job acting forceful in certain situations while getting sexually aroused almost coming across as aggressive which looked amusing. He had the perfect rough guy looks along with knowing his craft by acting obnoxious which were perfect pluses to his part here.
This was a first timer for Jason Alexander (Dave) as a camper chasing girls and his part in the film was not as memorable as the rest but he still pulled off a nice character for his part in it. He does a good job with his outgoing type of charm and acting believeably bubbly and full of life. He comes across perfectly as one of the good kids at the summer camp.
Ned Eisenberg
(Eddy) shows off as another asshole at summer camp in which he has a good cocky attitude as well as doing a good job trying to act forceful towards a woman in the lake and then getting aggressive by brushing her off which he was well focused by doing all of this. He also does a nice job with his demanding type of atttiude later on in the story along with acting arrogant too. He had the right looks for this type of role which was another good plus to his role.
Carrick Glenn
(Sally) seems to do well for herself as the popular teenage beauty which of course is what we need for a slasher flick. She does well with her frightened emotions in certain parts as well as doing well with her sobbing too. Plus she shows a good shyness to her role which looked impressive coming across as believeably innoent. She also showed a perfect frightened expressions while struggling against the killer which looked very energised.
Fisher Stevens
(Woodstock) stands out well as a slim teenager in the film and has the right looks to be in a camp slasher flick. Plus he shows a perfect frightened expressions on his face while sneaking into a cabin and knowing that someone else is coming in as he showed perfect adrenaline here. Also does well with his outgoing behavior and showing alot of great spunk by being likeable here.

A breast shot on Carrick Glenn taking a shower
A few kids moon someone
There's a full nude body shot from top to bottom Carolyn Houlihan when she goes skinny dipping in a lake as well as coming to onshore in the woods looking for her clothes.
There's a butt shot on Larry Joshua getting up from a sleeping bag in the woods.

A hooker is stabbed in the stomach with scissors
Throats are cut open and stabbed
A group of people on a raft are butchered with their fingers cut off heads sliced and a cut off arm.
Plenty of blood but it looks a wee bit phony

The music was cheesily composed with a synthesizer by Rick Wakeman which is the downfall of this film as it sounds quite Z-grade. However there's some good low creepy tones to it as well as the odd screeching sounds when the slayings happen which also sounded impressive here.

Todd: There's a camp not far from here, just across the lake. It was called Camp Blackfoot. No one goes there anymore. Everything burnt down. This camp had a caretaker, and his name was Cropsy. Now, this Cropsy was a sadist, and he got real pleasure out of hurting... scaring. And he had these garden shears. The kind with long, thin blades. He carried them all the time, wherever he went. And he had this kind of demonic way of look at you. One time, Cropsy really went after this kid from Brooklyn, followed him around night and day. He made this kid's life a living hell. But this time, he chose the wrong guy, cause the kid and some of his buddies had planned a little prank. Only problem was, the gag went wrong. The next thing anybody knows, Cropsy's trapped alive and burning in his bunk. They try to get him out, but the fire's so fierce, they can't reach him. All they can do is stand outside and listen to him cry out in agony. They say his smashed his way through the bunkroom door in just a mass of flames. And as he burned alive, he cried out, "I will return! I will have my revenge!" They never found his body. He survived. He lives on whatever he can catch. Eats them raw, alive. No longer human. Right now, he's out there. Watching, waiting. Don't look; he'll see you. Don't move; he'll hear you. Don't breathe; you're dead!

Todd: What do you expect me to do. Cut his balls off?

Dave: [looking at Playboy] God bless her mom and dad.

Marnie: Hey Todd... over here!

[last lines]
Camp Counselor: They never found his body, but they say his spirit lives in the forest. This forest. A maniac, a thing no longer human. They say he lives on whatever he can catch. Eats them raw, alive maybe. And every year he picks on a summer camp and seeks his revenge for the terrible things those kids did to him. Every year he kills. Right now he's out there. Watching. Waiting. So don't look; he'll see you. Don't breathe; he'll hear you. Don't move; you're dead!