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Thursday 18 April 2013

Burl reviews The Burning! (1981)

Oh, hello there, it’s Burl! Didn’t mean to scare you! Ha ha! I’m here to review one of the better-known slasher pictures of the early 1980s, The Burning! This was the picture trick effect fellow Tom Savini decided he’d rather do than Friday the 13th part 2, and I can’t say I blame him! It would have been a somewhat quixotic enterprise in either case, since the trick effects in both movies were cut to ribbons by the censors of the day, ha ha!
The Burning may as well be a Friday picture anyway, ha ha, and it also very much resembles Madman, though not quite as blue! (It’s well-photographed for one of these things, in fact: the cinematographer, Mr. Harvey Harrison, also shot several Ken Russell pictures, including the beautiful Salomé’s Last Dance, and also a couple of Cheech & Chong movies, ha ha, like Still Smokin’!) It really is the crystallization of the genre, and if a space alien came down and demanded to see a representative example of the slasher form, you could do worse than show him this picture, ha ha!
Well, it seems that several teens at a summer camp tried to do a joke on Cropsy, the caretaker, but it went sadly awry, ha ha, and the next thing you know they’ve created a Cropsymaniac! This entity grabs his trusty gardening shears and makes his way to a different camp some years later; a special camp, apparently, for layabouts in their early 20s! After many scenes of prankage and laffs, and well-earned abuse that is heaped upon a pathetic young fellow named Alfred (played by the Rat himself, Brian Backer, from Moving Violations and The Money Pit) the Cropsymaniac begins his rampage among the trees! He reserves much of his ire for young couples who foolishly choose the woods as a place to make sweet love! Oh, Glazer, ha ha, you big cruickshank!
The woods always seem to me the most proper locale for a slasher picture, I have to say! Of course sorority houses and empty hospitals have their place, but there’s something particularly apposite about a pine-scented locale! There are a couple of urban scenes shoehorned in there too, for those who like a little variety in their pokings! So this picture has that going for it, and it also has quite a few Special Makeup Effects and that great rarity, the Deformed Killer! On the debit side, the killings themselves are pretty unimaginative, and it seemed to me as I watched that many opportunities for suspense were bungled in the execution! Ha ha!
As inept as it often is – ha ha, talk about a by-the-numbers script, too! – this one is a bit of an old favourite! The trick effects are well managed, the competent cast littered with familiar faces (Jason Alexander, Holly Hunter, Fisher "The Grand Budapest Hotel" Stevens and Ned "Hiding Out" Eisenberg), and many treats of varying kinds are provided the discerning viewer as the movie progresses! I’m going to give The Burning a hearty handshake and two monkeyfaced camp directors!

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