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The Burning
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68 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2007
In my daily search for lost horror movie gems, I thought to myself that I may have found one in the notorious slasher movie called "The Burning". Indeed, the movie is notorious because it was previously banned in some countries as the gore is considered to be graphic in the extreme. However, upon a viewing of the movie, I came away thinking to myself that it wasn't so much the gore that would offend the average viewer especially horror movie lovers (Tom Savini was terrific as usual), but, if anything, perhaps the sex scenes and nudity were a little strong for younger viewers, certainly not enough to be banned, however.

Anyway, "The Burning" starts off simple enough as the audience is thrown into the middle of Camp Blackstone as an ornery man named Cropsy is being conspired upon by a group of boys who want to "pay" Cropsy back for his sinister ways. The trick goes bad and Cropsy is burned so badly that no skin grafts would take and Cropsy is reduced to an inhuman freak of nature. Still, Cropsy recovers his physical strength and then some it seems as he begins his mission to gain revenge upon those campers that wronged him, including any other girls or adolescent sex-crazed boys that might be in the area.

The plot in "The Burning" is simple and quite effective as it is based upon the age old act of revenge. After he leaves the hospital, Cropsy haunts the woods of another camp where one of his former pranksters/assailants is now a camp counselor. Now, if you have seen "Madman" or any of the "Friday the 13th parts 1-6" movies, you have a basic idea of what it going to happen, or do you? An element of surprise along with some graphic violence brilliantly orchestrated by the legendary, Tom Savini, marks this slasher as a cut above the rest. Interestingly enough, even children, in broad daylight no less (which is certainly not the norm in horror flicks), are not spared in this movie, and I think that makes this movie more realistic, scarier and certainly more horrifying. No one is exempt from the vicious and evil Cropsy. Perhaps, it is this graphic violence where not even the children are safe in the broad daylight that shocks the conscience of the audience and sets this movie apart from the abovementioned horror flicks.

Indeed, "The Burning" is similar to "Madman" and "Friday the 13th" but also different. "The Burning" is constructed differently and, as I mentioned above, the majority of the death scenes occur in the daytime, which as I said is quite unusual for horror flicks, but very effective in creating a sense of realism which only works to magnify the horror of this film.

The infamous "raft scene" (***SPOILER ALERT***) takes place in broad day light as well, and the audience really has no idea about what is about to happen, and that's part of what makes it so great along with the brilliant special effects of Tom Savini and the brutal violence associated with this scene. The setting of the raft scene is rather unorthodox for a horror movie as you have children safe in a raft during broad daylight and having a great time no less. However, a lonely canoe emerges, the contents of which are largely unknown or to say the least surprising. The audience knows that the campers' canoes are missing, that a girl is also missing, therefore, the viewer thinks it could be the body of this girl, but when the kids on the raft come upon what seems to be this lonely canoe, a scene which ranks highly as one of the greatest scenes of pure horror ever filmed in a slasher flick (or any horror movie for that matter) ensues. The "raft scene" is an absolutely brilliant piece of cinematic horror and the movie is worth owning for this scene alone, although the movie is very good overall as well.

Cropsy, as a villain, is quite formidable, sadistic, perverted, strong and evil, and after the burning of his body, it is apparent that Cropsy takes on a rather inhuman form with monstrous characteristics and qualities that only amplify his prowess as a villain. In fact, it's safe to say that Cropsy is an evil, sadistic and perverted freak of nature.

The main things I like about "The Burning" is the unexpected scene the audience gets with the raft, the realistic-type atmosphere and the brilliant job done by Tom Savini on the blood and gore associated with the murders in this movie. The kills are violent, shocking to the conscience, come without warning, vicious and are committed without remorse leaving the audience horrified and paralyzed with fear of Cropsy.

Criticisms of this flick are few but not entirely insignificant. As with many slasher movies, there is some needless dialogue, gratuitous nudity and some scenes that maybe funny in a sense, but have absolutely nothing to do with the movie as far as its merits as a horror movie are concerned. However, there is some constructive character development in these scenes and the camp theme is presented only too well (gives me flashbacks) and quite accurately in the movie. It is unfortunate that some of the scenes do reflect some weak acting at times, and if you are not really into the humor of sexual inuendos and such, you may find yourself bored as the movie tends to drag just a bit in the middle.

Still, "The Burning" heats up into a very nice horror movie and while "The Burning" may be inferior to some of the elite horror movies on certain levels of producing scares and atmospheric "horror" in the sense of inspiring fear in the audience, the movie is still very effective as a horror movie with its graphic violence and shocking death scenes. The theme music with Cropsy is very effective and the audience settles right into Cropsy's dark, morbid and isolated world of evil. The atmosphere in "The Burning" with regard to its support of the movie as a horror flick comes and goes with Cropsy really, but when it's there, it's very effective. In other words, when Cropsy appears to be out of the picture, the movie takes on a kind of comedy-like atmosphere in a sense and it is funny, but this also works to ease the uneasy emotions and tension in the audience stimulated by the horror and fear that "The Burning" produces.

At times, "The Burning" struggles to maintain the pure horror movie spirit and the effect is spurts of virulent horror (albeit very effective spurts of horror), but we do not have in this movie the unrelenting terror and building tension of "Halloween". The acting in "The Burning" is average and the characters are not very likeable which may temper the horror just a bit. With all of that being said, "The Burning" is a must-own horror movie classic in my opinion, and is clearly superior to all of today's trash and sacreligious remakes of horror movie classics. Indeed, "The Burning" is very effective as a horror movie and is one of the greatest slasher flicks ever made while also earning a nice little place on my DVD shelf. "The Burning" is a clear-cut classic in my opinion, although the rating says FOUR STARS, my official HorrorMan rating is 4.5 STARS.

As a side note, look for Jason Alexander who plays a happy-go-lucky type of guy who fosters comedy during the dry scenes as the movie tends to drag a bit in its efforts to inspire a horror-movie like atmosphere...the now famous actor on the hit TV sitcom "Seinfeld" was able to steal a few weak comedy scenes with his buddies. GLAD THEY FINALLY CAME OUT WITH THIS MOVIE ON DVD!! THANKS FOR THE HEADS UP CLINT!!
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2003
There are so many slasher-movies with the usual cliches; dumb blondes (no offence) that are running up the stairs instead of running just out the front door to escape from the boogeyman; cars that don't start; everybody being killed one by one, and in the end the bodies suddenly pop up when the only survivor (the dumb blonde) finally starts to suspect there's something wrong etc.
This flick is totally different, 5 people are killed by the maniac at the same time in broad daylight. Their bodies are discovered by a whole group of teens, who are crying for the lost of their friends. This is the first time that such things are shown in a slasher-movie and I had my share.
So this movie has an entertaining story and isn't that predictable as most of the slasker-movies are. The SFX are also very good.
My advise, if you like slasher-movies don't miss out on this one, but also don't expect a -nightmare on Elm street- success.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
"The Burning" is hands down my favorite slasher film of the 80's..
I personally love the killer in the woods slashers and this is the perfect premise.

The kids at a summer camp play a trick that goes terribly wrong on Cropsy the mean spirited grounds keeper and he is burned beyond recognition, Flash to hospital where the horribly burned and disfigured Cropsy is being treated and going through physical therapy then released with a warning that it will take him awhile to adjust to being in the outside in his disfigured state and most people will be frightened at his appearance.p

Flash to the seedy part of Times square wjhere he picks up a prostitute and when she reacts in a horrified manner to his appearance he loses it and kills her. After seeing the first kill I knew it was going to be a great slasher film.

Flash back to the woods "summer camp " Cropsy returns to the scene of the crime to wreak havoc and spill PLENTY of blood .I don't understand why they didn't make a sequel ,Cropsy and his garden shears are scarier than Jason and his machete anyday as far as I'm concerned.

I have 2 copies of this DVD one still unopened,as you can see it's hard to find and if you find it it's very expensive. This is a MUST HAVE for slasher fans.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Long ago, a janitor named Cropsy was burned horribly by a bad prank that went wrong leaving him disfigured. Five years later, he comes back to the same camp where he worked as now he seeks revenge with a huge pair of shears which he uses to cut his victims in pieces with it but can the campers survive a vacation to hell?

Entertaining and gory to the max slasher movie that is one of the most overlooked slasher movies ever! Tom Savini's make-up effects are mindblowing even by today's standards as i think he is the master of all make-up artists. The film co-stars Holly Hunter and Jason Alexander before their major film careers, there's some incredible graphic violence such as the infamous raft massacre sequence with more of the gore that was cut out and restored on this DVD. The music score is quite chilling as well, it's not for the faint of heart but a must have for fans of "Sleepaway Camp" and "Friday The 13th" alike.

The DVD has some cool extras like two featurettes especially on Tom Savini's make-up effects, photo gallery and a trailer.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2007
Not only is the movie one of my favorite hidden slasher gems of the 1980's, the transfer to dvd is absolutely beautiful. While the dvd lacks many special features, it makes up in picture. Even as a standard dvd, it holds up top notch on my LCD television. DEFINITELY recommended for any horror/slasher fan out there with intention of adding to their library. I'm so glad this finally had an official release!

The featurette with Tom Savini and the audio commentary is worth the buy as well. Plus, the low price. Pick this movie up, and contribute to the interest of putting more gems onto dvd format!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Cropsy the caretaker (Lou David) was not very well liked by the kids at camp Blackfoot. In fact, they hated Cropsy and wanted to play an evil trick on him. So, a group of boys crept out of their cabin one night and went to the caretaker's shed. Finding Cropsy inside, passed out in a drunken stupor, one boy entered and left the "gift" for Cropsy. Well, things didn't quite go as planned. Cropsy woke up, saw the hideous "joke", panicked, and somehow ended up on fire! Not good. Now, long after the failed skin-grafts, after the hospital released him without being able to help him, Cropsy is back. The kids are back too, back at camp for the summer. THE BURNING is a surprisingly effective tale of revenge and bloodletting, where the killer is actually pretty frightening. Cropsy is dark and silent, like a deadly shadow. He is vengeance incarnate, with no reason to live other than to destroy those who have destroyed him. He gave my flesh a nice crawl! The raft scene is legend! Tom Savini's make-up and gore fx are very realistic. Also, the kids aren't all that annoying. I actually cared whether they lived or died! I even wanted some of them to escape their fate! As much as I love FRIDAY THE 13th 1 and 2, HALLOWEEN 1 and 2, or any other maniac-on-the-loose movies, I only get the shudders when watching Cropsy do his thing! This was Holly Hunter's (as Sophie) first movie. Jason Alexander ("Seinfeld") is in it too! Watch THE BURNING before going on a camping trip for added fun! This belongs on every horror-hound's shriek-shelf...
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2001
I remember first seeing this movie when I was about 5 and beingso scared it gave me nightmares. Do not take this lightly. I had beenwatching horror films since I was 2 and no horror film had reallyscared me until I saw this one. Anyway, I saw it again recently and itwas still pretty scary. It may be considered a "Friday the13th" rip-off, but I personally thought it was on par with theFriday the 13th series
The killer in "The Burning" wasincredibly creepy because he is never really seen, other than thefirst and last five minutes of the movie. You are left with yourimagination to visualize how horribly disfigured this man has becomefrom the cruel prank played on him. And unlike the murder of almostevery other horror film, Cropsy isn't afraid to take his anger out onanyone, adult or child.
Remembering this film, I am reminded of oneparticular scene which has been mentioned several times. THE RAFTSCENE. No other horror movie (to my memory) has ever had the guts topull off what was done here. This scene is still implanted in my mindand will no doubt go down in horror movie history.
Another attributewhich makes this movie completely frightening is the haunting score. Istill hear those haunting keyboards playing in my occasionalnightmares. Creepy.
Creepy atmosphere, haunting score, and actingjust cheesy enough to work make this a memorable 80s slasher. Totallyunderrated and a must-see for any horror connoisseur. Also try Madman,which was another movie based on the "Cropsy Legends."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2013
I believe I've found what must be the seminal summer camp slasher film of the 1980s. It captures every element of the decade's obsession with movies like "Friday the 13th" and "Meatballs" and puts them in one package. Shout! Factory has scored again with their Blu-ray release of "The Burning."

The caretaker of a summer camp is burned alive and left deformed after a prank goes wrong. Years later, he's released from the hospital and returns to the area where the accident occurred. A new group of campers have arrived for the summer and he has horrific plans for them. Hedge clippers in hand, the caretaker begins his reign of terror on the counselors and attendees.

"The Burning" has the raunchy toilet humor of "Meatballs" mixed with everything you came to expect from slasher films like "Friday the 13th" and "Sleepaway Camp." You have nice girls making bad decisions by hooking up with bad guys. Unfortunately, the killer sees all and punishes them for their perverse deeds.

I always thought the killer in "Friday the 13th, Part V: A New Beginning" was the first to utilize hedge clippers. I was very wrong, as you can see in "The Burning." It's obvious the psycho in "A New Beginning" took inspiration from the crazy caretaker.

It's unbelievable how many big names are attached to "The Burning." Harvey Weinstein created and co-wrote the story. Bob Weinstein co-wrote the screenplay. Special Make-up Artist Tom Savini returns to camp for a second time after his classic work on "Friday the 13th." His handiwork keeps the blood flowing efficiently.

Brian Backer plays a character more annoying than the one he did in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." Jason Alexander (yes, George Costanza) portrays a sporty and popular high schooler. He has a full head of hair and doesn't wear glasses. Holly Hunter can be seen briefly as a camper. She looks like she was maybe 13 years old.

The high definition transfer for "The Burning" is another great example of Shout! Factory's dedication to preserving these classic horror films in the best format available at the time. The picture is clean without losing any of the movie's original grit. The audio perfectly delivers all the sounds of the outdoors, dialogue, and horrifying screams you'd expect from a slasher flick set at a summer camp.

As we've come to expect, Shout! Factory has packed this Collector's Edition with exciting bonus material. Director Tony Maylam and Journalist Alan Jones provide audio commentary for the film. There are a few interviews with the actors and crew as well. A featurette entitled "Blood 'N' Fire Memories" is featured. A theatrical trailer, behind-the-scenes footage, a make-up effects still gallery, poster and still gallery, and the original screenplay are also included.

"The Burning" is another one of those cult classics many people forget about in the shadow of "Friday the 13th." If you're a fan of 1980s slasher movies, it's a must-own. Consumers will be happy with its amount of extra features coupled with a high definition film transfer that promises viewers a positive experience.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Originally released in 1981, The Burning may seem like Friday the 13th redux (the original Friday only came out a year before this did), but make no mistake that this slasher is better than any installment of that long running and tired series. The Burning revolves around a camp terrorized by the deranged Cropsy (Lou David), who five years prior was the victim of a prank gone horribly awry, which has left him horribly burned to the point where no skin grafts of any kind could take. Naturally, a camp full of horny teenagers should sate his homicidal desires. What really makes The Burning memorable are the inventive makeup and gore effects of legendary FX master Tom Savini (coming hot of the success of Dawn of the Dead and Friday the 13th), as well as the super early appearances from future Oscar winner Holly Hunter, as well as funnyman Jason Alexander and Fisher Stevens. It's also worth noting that the film was written and produced by Harvey and Bob Weinstein; before their upstart company Miramax went to runaway success. The DVD doesn't have a plethora of extras, but it does have a commentary track from director Tony Maylam as well as a featurette with Tom Savini who recollects on his work and experiences making the film. All in all, slasher movies rarely get any better than this, and if you've never seen The Burning, you should definitely check it out.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2002
THE BURNING is a rare case of a ...[copy] overshadowing the film that it inspired it. In this case, that film would be FRIDAY THE 13th. Both films have the same core plot: a summer camp haunted by a vicious killer and... teenagers who get it on and then get offed just as quickly. Several pluses that make THE BURNING a better film, however, are the actual presence of "characters." In FRIDAY THE 13th, the counselors were faceless, barely distinguishable from one another. So in the end, who gives a hoot if they get their throats cut? While the characters in THE BURNING are not exactly ORDINARY PEOPLE-caliber, at least their relationships and personalities are interesting. Heading the list are Todd (Brian Matthews) as a tough but sympathetic-to-the-underdog camp counselor; Alfred (Brian Backer), a geeky outcast with a penchant for spying on girls in the shower; Michelle (Leah Ayres), Todd's feisty and sensible girlfriend. Jason Alexander, Fisher Stevens, and Holly Hunter also make early appearances here. THE BURNING also has a brooding, ominous atmosphere, as well as a nice sense of humour to counter-balance the atmosphere. Finally, the film also subverts our expectations by killing off folks unexpectedly, and in daylight, no less. Two word: raft massacre. Five people get it right there in broad daylight, easily popping that theory that you have to be alone for a killer to come after you. Take that, Ms. Voorhees.
Bottom line? While FRIDAY THE 13th set the stage, THE BURNING -- in my opinion -- set the standard.
This film is currently available on DVD only in England, and viewable on region 2 or region-free DVD players only (which I am getting soon). In the US, you can order the tape through Amazon. Or buy a region-free DVD player if you can afford it ...and order the DVD for THE BURNING from amazon.co.uk. Otherwise, what are you guys waiting for? The tape's right here! It's well worth it.
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