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The Burning

Third-degree terror.

Rod Lott May 24th, 2013

It speaks to the strength of The Burning’s reputation among cult-film fans that what’s most memorable about the 1981 slasher is not that it was written by the Weinstein brothers, nor that it represents early appearances of the likes of Jason Alexander, Holly Hunter and Fisher Stevens. It’s that its Cropsy is just a damned good villain.


(Granted, hearing future Seinfeld sidekick Alexander talk about spermicide is memorable, too. Seeing his bare behind on a high-definition Blu-ray, however, is something I’d like to forget.)
In the prologue, Cropsy (Lou David, The Gumball Rally) is a caretaker at Camp Blackfoot. One night, a few kids have the bright idea to “scare the shit out of [him]” via a skull with candles in its eyes — no biggie, except that Cropsy accidentally kicks it over, thereby setting himself aflame and forever disfiguring his already funky face.

Flash-forward and after scissoring a prostitute's flabby belly, Cropsy goes about exacting his revenge — not on the youths who actually are responsible, but an entirely different camp! His reign of terror is obviously cast in Friday the 13th mold, complete with:
• a false scare by the campfire,
• a completely gratuitous shower scene,
• young adults playing well below their actual ages,
• said young adults being super-horny (the men bond over pornographic magazines),
• and the bloody-good effects of Tom Savini (who discusses them for 18 minutes in a featurette), with a boat assault being the highlight.  

But The Burning is an improvement over 1980’s Friday in every sense, and Shout! Factory once again delivers another solid special edition in its ever-reliable Scream Factory line. It puts the previous, now out-of-print MGM DVD to utter shame. —Rod Lott

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