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Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Burning

      A prank on a sadistic camp caretaker goes horribly wrong, ending in him being hideously burned. Five years later, after many failed operations, he returns to Camp Blackwater for some good old fashioned revenge...

     First of all, let's the get the obvious out of the way.  It's obviously inspired by FRIDAY THE 13TH.  Fine. Whatever. But don't let that fool you. THE BURNING is actually an above average 80's slasher that's just as entertaining as FRIDAY THE 13TH if you ask me, and I LOVE those films.

     You get to see Jason Alexander (with a full head of hair), Holly Hunter, and Fisher Stevens way before they were famous.  You get special effects by Tom Savini that are quite gruesome- this movie was banned for years in the UK. It moves along briskly, and reaches a climax of sorts with the notorious "abandoned canoe" scene- it's truly spectacular.  And I loved the music- Rick Wakeman's electronic score is effective eerie and really helps the mood of the film and I'm on a mad search for the soundtrack as we speak.

      No, it's not the best written or acted.  But it has great, creative cinematography and editing.  And you just can't beat the movie's atmosphere. Far superior than SLEEPAWAY CAMP (which is highly overrated in my book...), THE BURNING is almost as if you're watching MEATBALLS at times- with its camp hijinks and total overall 80's atmosphere.  Until Savini's effects viciously remind you that you're watching a slasher movie.

     THE BURNING is unfairly known as just a Camp Crystal Lake clone, but it deserves a bigger audience.  It uses up just about every slasher cliche in the book, even throwing in the obligatory counselors huddled around a campfire being told the local legend and a fellow counselor jumps out of the bushes with a mask on and scares the shit ouf of everybody at just the right moment. Which is great, because there is something about a bunch of people out in the dark woods, huddled around a campfire telling scary stories that strikes a chord in me.

     There will always be something childlike and wondrous about summer camp- which is why I'm so fond of the "summer camp" movies. Cropsy makes a memorable villain in this little-seen slasher from '81 and  I would go so far as to put this in the Top Ten Slashers of the 80's.  A memorable early production of newly formed Miramax Studios.

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