Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Burning

1981. Tony Maylam. This is a film I've known about for years, one of those slashers that pops up on the fringe of conversation. It legacy is mostly due to Tom Savini's masterful effects, including some fantastic kills that haven't been replicated to death, no pun intended. The killer is referred to as Cropsey, a name that I found curious as I watched a documentary by the same name a few months ago. The film opens with a group of camp kids plotting to scare the aforementioned killer, and that prank going horribly wrong. I found the little things enjoyable, as instead of just having him die and reappear as the killer, we spend time with him. There's a decent chunk of time showing his treatments and rehab over five years, ending with Cropsey walking out of the hospital, scarred beyond repair. He dresses in black from head to toe, walking the street at night. He comes up on a prostitute who then leads him to her apartment. I found her curiously inviting to a shady looking guy, but hey, this is horror. She quickly sees his face and after screaming in fear, is stabbed with a pair of scissors. We then are shown a camp not far from the original, which was closed after the burning. Cropsey already decided to lurk this campground, as the kids that nearly killed him are now counselors. I won't lurk much on the middle of the film, campers do camp things, relationships are made and there's sex of course. Also a nice bit of nudity, full frontal as well. It's always a let down when nudity is provided in a film and the actress is not attractive. Not in this case, fortunately. Now, seeing that I've alienated my female readers, I'll continue. The campers are planning a three day canoeing trip, to the appropriately named Devil's Creek, which is several miles from camp. The first night, a campfire story about Cropsey's legend is told. It's odd since it was known he was in a hospital these past years but still has a legend. I realize that a film taking place at a camp HAS to have a campfire scene, but it's a nitpick. When two lovebirds attempt to make that next step, the lady isn't wanting to move as far as her companion is. Proves to be a fatal mistake, as she is soon dispatched with a mean pair of gardening shears. The next morning, there's a search planned for our latest victim. Soon they find their canoes missing. Being basically marooned at their campground, the idea to fashion a raft is made. A crude raft is built and some of the campers set out to find both their friend and hopefully their canoes too. The scene this film is infamous for happens here.
A canoe is found and as the raft reaches it, Cropsey stands up in it and holds his shears high. He massacres the group, cutting off fingers, slashes throats and dismembering them in a flurry of quick cuts. It's such a shocking scene, even amid the brutal kills since is happens so suddenly. The next few scenes show another couple having sex, but he doesn't exactly satisfy her desires. It's a pretty funny scene, with Cropsey killing the girl while she's in her sleeping bag. When her mate returns to her and finds her dead, he is quickly impaled onto a tree. This would be another set of counselors missing if not for Alfred, wanting to spy on them seeing the killings. He then brings the head counselor, Todd to the scene and is attacked by our killer, but not fatally. As Cropsey pursues the survivor, Todd stumbles back to his feet, heading back to camp. The next morning, the raft with the mutilated teens comes into view of the remaining group. Todd soon reaches them and seeing the raft, tells all the ones that are left to head back to the campground as he looks for Alfred, who has been captured by Cropsey. He hears the screams of Alfred and finds him being held hostage by Cropsey, who has a really nice modified blowtorch, which has been made into a flamethrower. We finally see Cropsey's face and it didn't disappoint.
He reminded me of a zombie from Nightmare City, actually. There's a little bit of cat and mouse as Todd fights for his life. Cropsey attempts to set him on fire but Alfred frees himself and stabs him with his own shears. Michelle arrives with police as Todd and Alfred are walking out of the mine where he was held. Cropsey gets back up and tries to attack them but Todd puts an axe in his head for the effort. Alfred picks up the flamethrower and sets Cropsey on fire, walking away as his body burns. I kinda felt bad, they set the poor bastard on fire twice. If you think about it from his perspective, it's quite a depressing film, haha. I rank the film right up there with some of the best slashers, it's definitely worth a watch. Savini added a lot of credibility but the film also has a good story and doesn't suffer from sequelitis as so many do. I hope you enjoyed the review, this film can be enjoyed on Netflix, do yourself a favor and check it out.


  1. I really enjoyed this film, though it takes it's time getting to the good stuff! I saw that Cropsey documentary a couple of years back at a film festival. It was quite good and a bit creepy!


  2. Finally, someone that has watched Cropsey! It's a bit creepy. The Burning does take some time getting warmed up but those last ten minutes more than make up for it.