Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Burning

(1981) ***

This unknown (to me) summer camp slasher flick from the early 80s exceeded expectations, due to my onscreen cable guide giving it only 1 star in it's little synopsis. Still, the idea of an early 80s summer camp massacre was too inviting to pass up, so I'm glad I ignored their diss.

It's certainly paint by numbers teen slasher stuff, but that's fun, right? And this is absolutely from the golden age, made about the same time as Friday the 13th, of which this one seems a blatant copy. A "factoid" on imdb claims that Harvey Weinstein (who wrote this script) had already written it before F13 came out, though, so who knows.

Among the fun here is seeing the screen debuts of Jason Alexander, Fisher Stevens, and Holly Hunter in a blink-and-you'll-miss-her role. And this was also the debut of the Weinstein brothers in Hollywood, it seems. The lead here is also the debut of Brian Backer, who would go on the next year to star in Fast Times in a similarly annoying whiny misfit role.

The plot, as if that matters, involves the revenge of a mean camp caretaker who had been burned almost to death (in a prank gone wrong) by some campers years before. Now he's out of the hospital, horribly disfigured, and terrorizing a new camp with some garden shears.

There's the requisite amount of female nudity--including full frontal skinny dipping!--for those scoring at home. Horror flicks are often seen as inherently conservative, even reactionary, politically, and this movie is a textbook case. It's fun to see the old tropes of slasher flicks in action: any girl who gets her knickers off is sure to die. And literally, the big boy scout guy comes to the rescue.

Like most slasher flicks, this isn't a particularly scary movie. It goes for gore over suspense, and there's plenty of gore for aficionados. I wouldn't say it's one to seek out, necessarily, but if you're in the mood for some nostalgia, I think this one will hit home for most Horrorthoners, as we're all children of the 70s/80s.

Apparently some stink was made in Europe over the gore in an infamous "raft scene." So here you go--I don't see any need for spoiler alerts--they all die!


Landshark said...

Btw, it occurs to me that it's possible I'm bumping up any late 70s/early 80s horror flicks by about 1/2 a star for pure nostalgia.

Too many awesome Friday late nights in the 8th grade spent going to Video Connection, grabbing 3 flicks, going home to make a big batch of chocolate chip cookies, and then watching with DCD and octo till 2-3am. Still a tough Friday night to top.

JPX said...

I've never heard of this film, but it sounds like fun! I've been watching some 80s stuff recently as well (Prom Night, etc) and there is a certian nostalgia for the bad outfits and 80s music. Friday the 13th was made to capitalize on the success of Halloween so it only makes sense that other films were up to the same thing.

JPX said...

Video Connection's slogan should've been, "If you want it, it's out but we have The Breakfast Club".

Landshark said...

I remember when we rented Weird Science one time, and Kris gave us crap, proclaiming that "Kelly LeBrock isn't such hot stuff..."

Johnny Sweatpants said...

I love these types of movies and always rate them higher than they likely deserve!

I think it's high time someone tackled all the Sleepaway Camps. (I've never actually seen any of them.)

JPX said...

Stay tuned, Johnny!

DCD said...

Ah, Video Connection - good times. Except when Kris used to hit on Dad - not so much.

I'm with you on the nostalgia factor, LS. That scene was a hoot.

Landshark said...

I love the auteur's touch at the end of the scene--the lone trickle of blood down the arm, then the thumb...


Octopunk said...

These comments made me feel so homesick! (In that weird way, for a house that isn't really there anymore.)

During the incredible Horrorthon 2004 I tackled a number of F13 knockoffs (Madman and Prey come to mind), but there are SO MANY. I've never heard of this one.

Doesn't the killer know it's not safe to stand up in a boat?