Set for release in an outstanding looking steel book, Arrow remaster yet another 80s must-see classic slasher movies onto Blu-ray.
If there was ever evidence needed as to the slasher formula being recycled from film to film throughout the 80s, ‘The Burning’ would be exhibit A. If someone had named this Friday the 13th Pt (insert number here) no one would have questioned. Released one year after the infamous Camp slasher ‘The Burning’ stood against a myriad of similar titles. Still, no hockey masks in sight, here our villain (as equally wronged as young Jason I might add), caretaker Mr Cropsey pitches his hope of entering a franchise wielding a glimmering pair of gardening shears, dispatching victims in ways only limited by gore maestro Tom Savini’s imagination!
The plot of ‘The Burning’ is as textbook as my opening remarks would allude to. Back in the ‘past’ a group of camp pranksters unwittingly create a monster in the form of caretaker ‘Cropsey’ when he becomes horribly burnt in a prank gone wrong. Cut to the future – well a couple of years anyhow, we see the camp, bustling with fresh meat. Cropsey has become a legend told to frighten the wayward and very young. Still, his body was never found, and through the miracle of 80s medical technology, against all odds he lives - if only to return to the camp and seek his revenge.
From then on in, it’s full camp ahead!
‘Camp camp’- in the opener as we get introduced to our soon to be victims. The camp is bustling with the usual 80s stereotypes. The jock, the strong female character, the joker, the weird guy, the nerd and so on. Within the first 30 minutes you are taken on a nostalgic trip back to the 80s. Remember when spud guns, pea shooters were fashionable? When muscle shirts had to be accompanied with skinny jeans and converse pumps? When all boys wanted to do was ‘get the girl’ and persistence was the key? And all girls wanted to do was play hard to get? The prefect backdrop to any movie night opener.
‘Camp Topless’ – as we then get more intimately familiarised with the aforementioned cast and then finally. In ‘The Burning’ this goes above and beyond, all taste that is (almost into the realms of plain awkward). Still this is the early 80s, where subtly and restraint have yet to be beaten into the genre by red tape and conservatives.
‘Camp Massacre’ as Cropsey ups the body count and we get some well-deserved carnage. Mind you, we wait 50 minutes for the violence to kick in proper. Still, what a scene. The now infamous raft kill sequence does not disappoint, and on Blu-ray the effects simply shine. I could go on all day about how good practical effects are worth their weight in gold, but after watching this I no longer feel the need to say it, I could just show them this film to close the case forever. Amazing. Impaling, limb removal, finger severing and blood (literally) flying everywhere - it’s a true orgy of carnage, and a scene, I would wager is one of the most condensed kill sequences in the whole genre. For the final half an hour Cropsey offs a few more of the lesser deserving and then engages in a cat and mouse showdown involving a flamethrower.
Despite its uneven pacing early on in the movie, the kills more than deliver.
Overall, turmoil around the time of the film’s original release may have harmed the films chances of achieving the much coveted franchise status, that and its similarities to other slasher films of the time (including the equally loved ‘Madman – which incidentally is inspired by the same legend), but to horror fans today – it’s like gold dust. With a concept perfectly preserving the essence of a cinema age most modern horror fans are too young to remember, but still cannot let go of, and a restoration that brings Savini’s legendary special effects and the burned out Cropsey screaming into the 21st Century you need this in your collection.