Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Burning, The Perfect Slasher Film

1981's "The Burning" seems to show up on everyone's top five list for slasher films. No flaws in this work, and a look at our feature 35 years after it's debut, may explain why this film is considered a horror classic.  Tom Savini did the make-up f/x for "The Burning" shortly after he did them for "Dawn of the Dead."  Harvey Weinstein (of Miramax fame) co-wrote the story.  Jason Alexander (of Seinfeld fame) stars as one of the nymphomaniac campers.  Oh yes, the very perky Leah Ayres, a 1980s heart-throb, plays the hero counselor. Look close for Holly Hunter. Oh yes...Cropsy! Shot near Buffalo, NY, and directed by Tony Maylam, let us delve into "The Burning."
Campers at Camp Blackfoot pull a prank on the camp's sadistic caretaker, Cropsy. Uh-oh....the prank gets out of hand leaving Cropsy (Lou David) totally engulfed in fire.  Five years later, Cropsy, horribly disfigured, is discharged from the burn hospital and immediately slices up a prostitute.  Cropsy returns to the lake to find new teen campers whooping it up.  Michelle (Ayres) is the very pretty female counselor, and Todd (Brian Matthews) is the hunk male counselor. Meanwhile, Cropsy arms himself with some hedge-clippers and begins his wrath.  As Todd and Michelle lead the campers on a three day canoe trip, Cropsy begins, first by disposing of the skinny-dipping Karen (Carolyn Houlihan).  After "The Burning," every skinny-dipper in all future slasher films would meet a most bloody demise.
Then, in a classic scene, only Tom Savini could concoct, Cropsy dices up five nubile teens on a raft with his gardening implement.  He's not done yet, as there are still some teens engaging in pre-marital sex that are still breathing.  Skinny-dipping, pre-marital sex, and gratuitous shower scenes are staples of this film, and unfortunately for some great looking campers, so are Cropsy's hedge-clippers.  Will pretty Michelle be able to save any of her campers, or does her pre-marital sex with Todd doom her as well? Is Cropsy merely an avenging angel crusading for teen morality?
The acting is terrific, and scares are sharp.  Thanks to Tom Savini, the gore his cutting edge.  This film would springboard many of it's actors and crew into some successful careers. Ms. Ayres would soon leave acting and devote her talents to working with children in Maryland.  Enjoy "The Burning," as uncut and fine quality versions of this film exist on YouTube.


  1. This is one of the better slasher flicks of the 80s. I remember seeing it in a theater & it was an edge of your seat experience. Good review, Christopher.

  2. Always fun to read your stuff, some of the most entertaining stuff around, keep up the great work mate