The Burning (1981)
Director: Tony Maylam
A bitter, burnt-to-a-toast janitor returns to the camp at which he got torched five years earlier with a pair of garden sheers and a craving for gory teen whacking (a man from my own heart). Load up the canoe, it's going to be a red wet trip down body-count creek.
It’s very obvious that "The Burning" was born out of Friday the 13th's immense success. The similarities are striking! This illegitimate bastard brother of Voorhees is a by-the-rules slasher, but does manage to be a multitude of cuts above the rest due to its huge set of testies.
Sure, we've seen it all before, right down to the deformed loon on the rampage, the campfire story, the woods setting, the killer POV shots and the have-sex-go-RIP rule. But in terms of its actual playground, The Burning is extremely groovy stuff. I have to prop this sicko for not holding back in the main spices that make a yummy slasher stew. Female tits and derrieres are all over the screen (as they should be) and teens get nixed in the most heinous, gory and messy ways through splendorous Tom Savini made kills. YIPPEE!
From a narrative standpoint, for anybody who knows the slasher formula as well as they know to count to 13, most of the plot turns will hold no surprises. But the enthusiasm behind the acts, did offer me the fun times I craved nonetheless. The better than usual acting (in slasher movies anyways), the well-written dialogue and the semi-novel canoe trip setting (whiffs of Deliverance though) also helped make this stroll a mucho enjoyable one. But the cherry on top of this raw bitch is the now infamous raft scene. It is by far the most memorable sequence in the picture. Talk about cleaning house with panache! Voorhees would be proud and dare I say envious of what this madman accomplished here! NICE! The other most striking bit in this meat house is that Jason Alexander (Dave) used to have hair. Who knew? I feel fulfilled now knowing that valuable tidbit of information.
On the downside, the flick does take a while to start cracking and really begins kicking it 47 minutes in. Till then, we have to sit through the usual “ho hum” teen shenanigans, a bunch of ridiculously giggly girls (what were those girls snorting?) and a “one note” annoying tough guy (pre-mature boy, as I like to call him) who just never stops picking on the camp reject (I think he wants to nail him...it's called flirting). Now all that jive wasn't snooze-inducing, but it sure wasn't edge of my washing machine either. This sucker also failed to avoid one of the typical “slasher” pitfalls. Yes, you guessed it; the killer must be a marathon runner or have a monthly bus pass because he gets from one point to another in the blink of a blade. He's a traveling man, yo! But hey, it’s a freaking dead zit poppers movie, so I let most of that shit go.
In the end, "The Burning" was fairly familiar, but still punched me in all the right places. The raft scene alone makes it a must see! Mark my words, garden sheers have never been put to better use on celluloid. I actually wrote some notes down as to how to use them, I mean this guy is a pro and I have to be ready for my next date. I like to learn from the best. Love and kisses! SLASH SLASH SLASH!
It’s a buffet! We get scissor stabs, slit throats, all kinds of garden sheer stabbings, cut off fingers, chest stabbing, stabs in the neck, cut forehead, axe in the head and nasty burn scars. Yup, it’s all good at this camp! Thank you councilor Savini!
Brian Matthews (Todd) handles his part very well. Leah Ayres (Michelle) looks yummy, not much else I can say. I bought Brian Backer (Alfred) as the reject; poor guy. Larry Joshua (Glazer) does A-hole so well that I wanted to introduce him to my hunting knife. Jason Alexander (Dave) hits on some chicks and I bought it! He's at his smug best...with hair. Ned Eisenberg (Eddy) does dickwad good. Fisher Stevens (Woodstock) looks so young here and he handles his part like a skinny champ.
T & A
We get tits in the shower, a butt-tit-bush shot and chicks in bikinis. The ladies get a few dudes’ ass shots and lots of men shirtless.
Maylam does what he has to do while delivering a couple of neato stylish moments. I loved his use of POV, his knack at not showing the killer till the end, the lightning/lighting effects, his use of slow motion and the slick angles. I also appreciated him putting his lens where it counts at the beginning of the film...on some chick's ass! Good job!
The aggressive and spooky score backed the action like a well-trained seal.
Been there, done that...but so fucking what? "Been there" was a pleasurable place to be, "done that" was a freaking gnarly time. You won't find anything very original in this ballsy Friday the 13th clone, but if you relish your slashers shaken and stirred with lots of nipples, plasma, fly directing and surprisingly good acting; stab this one into your VCR and get ready for a butchering jamboree! You will never look at garden sheers or Jason Alexander's head (the one on his shoulders) the same way again.
Holly Hunter plays the role of Sophie in this film, but to be honest, I didn’t recognize her.
Director Jack Sholder ("The Hidden") edited this film.
Bob Weinstein co-wrote this film and his bro Harvey produced it. I guess this was an early Miramax offering.
Rumor has it that Tom Savini passed on "Friday the 13th: Part 2" to do the effects on this one.
Tony Maylam also directed the lousy Rutger Hauer opus "Split Second".