The Burning (1981)

It’s summer camp time, and the young adults are feeling frisky. Hormones are raging, and unfortunately so is a garden shears wielding burn-victim janitor maniac. He’s hiding in the woods, creeping up on naked ladies, and generally wreaking bloody havoc with his perfectly silhouetted weapon.

A brilliantly corny and cliché ridden slasher horror, The Burning is surprisingly entertaining despite its grating 80s score. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did, and to be honest I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. It didn’t scare me or shock me, but it really entertained me, and not for one moment did I find myself getting bored. This was mainly due to sparky performances from some of the cast (Brian Backer, Larry Joshua, and Jason Alexander in particular), top notch special effects, and a story that wasn’t as predictable as I had predicted (does that even make sense?)

The film knows when to withhold violence as well as when to pile it on unashamedly. Far from 91 minutes of explicit slasher gore, the audience is actually treated to a bit of suspense and character building in among slit throats and stabbed guts. I actually vaguely cared about who might die, and it was nice to see some people survive unscathed. Obviously the whores, the horny douche-bags, and the kids floating out in to the middle of the river on a rickety raft had to go, though.

If anything, it’s worth watching this for the brilliantly inspired dialogue alone. With lines such as “Well if you’re comin in, why don’t you come on in?“, and “He’s a sexual pervert!“, the script is bound to entertain you in ways you can only imagine.

I didn’t have high hopes for this one, and I’m pleased to say it exceeded expectations. Thumbs up from me.



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