Retro Review: ‘The Burning’

Summer is here and it is time for parents to send their kids off to camp in the hopes of having a quiet house for even a short period of time. But if movies have taught us anything, its that summer camp is a time for youth to run wild and slashers to prey on victims. Elsewhere on this site G-Funk has already taken a look at the best summer camp slasher movie ever (which can be read HERE) as well as its sequels. So with this retro review I will be looking at a forgotten chapter in the camp slashers genre, the Burning.

A drunken and despised janitor is burned to a crisp in a prank gone wrong, landing him in a hospital for the next five years. During this time he does the standard revenge burning1plotting against the kids at the camp responsible for his new “melted cheese” look. Back at the summer camp, this janitor has become the subject of his own urban legend and has been dubbed “Cropsey” by a new batch of kids as they swap stories about him around the campfire. When these campers head out for a few days canoeing and hiking the inevitably cross paths with Cropsey and his pair of gardening sheers.

It has long been a Hollywood tradition that to break into the business you often have to pay your dues in the horror genre. The Burning is a perfect example of this as viewers will see; Holly Hunter, Jason Alexander, and Fisher Stevens in the ensemble cast. Behind the camera, this picture is the brainchild of the Weinstein brothers who would go on to become two of the most powerful men in movie making.

burning2Despite not receiving a franchise as many of his other slasher brethren, Cropsey makes a memorable villain in this underrated horror flick. Granted gardening sheers are not that intimidating as far weapons go, but the startling look of the killer created by make-up legend Tom Savini is truly remarkable. While on the topic of Savini’s work, the artist turned down returning to the Friday the 13th franchise in order to work on this flick. And despite having limited time to work on many of the effects the gore fx should please any fan of slashers.  Unlike many of the other films of this ilk, the filmmakers actually took the time to develop the characters more than is expected. Each of the campers is given a distinct personality whether they are likable or not. On the surface the Burning may seem like your standard 80’s slasher flick but it is a cut above many of its contemporaries (no pun intended).