Video Nasties: The Burning (1981)

Video Nasties: The Burning (1981)

Taking place at a summer camp named “Camp Blackfoot” late one night, a group of boys try to play a prank on a their mean, alcoholic caretaker named Cropsy (Lou David) to try to scare him.  Some have even hinted that Cropsy may have been a pedophile, but I highly doubt that was the case.  The prank doesn’t go exactly as planned when Cropsy knocks over the flaming skull that the boys used for the prank onto himself and soon the gas tank; setting both himself and the room on fire.  Soon the boys are watching Cropsy as he is engulfed in flames, falling down a ravine into a lake.  Five years later, Cropsy is released from the hospital.  He is left disfigured and wanting revenge.

Not too far from where Camp Blackfoot was located is Camp Stonewater; a new camp with a lot of fresh faces.  There are many characters dealing with their own situations: Eddy (Ned Eisenberg) tries to score with shy  girl Karen (Carolyn Houlihan), Todd (Brian Matthews) and Michelle (Leah Ayres) struggle with being the head counselors, lonely Alfred (Brian Backer, best known for playing Mark Ratner in Fast Times at Ridgemont High) tries to make friends with Dave (a young and with hair, Jason Alexander), Fish (J. R. McKechnie), and Woodstock (a very young, Fisher Stevens) as well as getting picked on by the camp’s bully Glazer (Larry Joshua), who tries to impress Sally (Carrick Glenn).

With a pair of garden shears in hand, Cropsy has made it to Camp Stonewater and is viciously taking the campers out one by one in a slew of grisly murders.  Everything is all fun and games for the campers until Karen and some canoes come up missing.  The only person who realizes that Cropsy is out there is Alfred.  As he tries convincing to Todd and some of the others that there’s a killer on the loose, more campers are falling victim to Cropsy; especially in the infamous ‘raft massacre’ scene.  Towards the end we’re left with a final showdown, but the question is: “Will Cropsy be stopped for good?”.

Tony Maylam’s The Burning is a film that has been a big part of my life as being a fan of horror.  It’s one of those films that I can recall on making me want to watch more horror films after I watched it for the first time, especially those that were more forgotten about.  It’s also a film that doesn’t get as much credit then what it deserves, since it is mostly criticized as being a “rip-off” of Friday the 13th due to a similiar plot and location. Although it was made to somewhat cash in on the slasher movie craze that was going on during the early to mid ’80s, The Burning is consider to be one of the better films from that genre.  It was one of the first films to be produced and distributed by Mirimax Films.  Harvey  Weinstien produced the film and Bob Weinstein co-wrote it.  Having legendary makeup effects artist, Tom Savini, work on the film and Yes’ keyboardist, Rick Wakeman, performing the film’s eerie soundtrack, played a major part in helping the film gain some momentum.

What made the film gain even more attention was when it landed on the Video Nasties’ list.  When the film was accidentally released uncut by British video label Thorn-EMI; the tapes were impounded under the Obscene Publications Act and then were added the list.  One scene in particular caused it to be banned in U.K. for many years.  That scene of course was the ‘raft massacre’ scene, which featured five kids being brutally dismembered.  Another scene that was also supposed to be trimmed was before the title sequence that featured a pair of scissors piercing through a woman’s flesh.  The Burning was finally released uncut in the U.K. after twenty years in 2001. Despite being banned in the U.K. for several years and not being released on DVD in the U.S. until 2007, The Burning has reached somewhat of a following among many horror fans and has become a slasher classic.

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Morgan is an aspiring screenwriter, who loves everything '80s and horror. She also writes for the blog, The Kid in the Hall, where she rambles on about B-movies, groovy music, and the totally random.

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