The Burning is one of those old slasher flicks I saw early, and so it has always stuck with me. It’s a clean, classic version of the old tale, the campers and the killer, all that. But that doesn’t make it stale. In fact, this is one of the earlier and better made horror flicks of the genre, a real gem that still works years later, probably because of its simplicity and earnestness. And, since it has no following franchise, it stands alone and doesn’t succumb to a crappy series of worse-than-the-one-before flicks. The Burning is worth something, and that’s …something.
At a summer camp, a janitor is injured in a prank gone wrong, burned so badly that he’s a shell of his former self. Later, he has become a campfire legend, a story the counselors tell the campers to scare them into their sleeping bags. But his lust for vengeance is real, and while the teens try to get it on, he tries to chop them up. On a canoe trip, campers fall one by one, as the killer stalks them through the woods. Will any survive, or will the burning be the beginning of the end for them all?
Of course, Friday the 13th was released a year earlier, and so this one definitely feels like a copy of that film, less a homage and more a recycling of what audiences enjoyed. But that doesn’t make it useless. It’s still fun, frightening, full of blood & boobs; everything you would assume you would see when you sit down in front of a movie advertised as a campy slasher. And, what’s funny, it’s got a cast full of hey-I-know-that-actor moments, a lot of people that went on to become famous, and that’s pretty cool to watch: Jason Alexander, Holly Hunter, Fisher Stevens. Generally, it’s just more well-made then slashers are now, mostly because it didn’t try to do too much at all, it kept to the core of what it was trying to exhibit, and figured we’d be happy with that. We were then, I am now, and The Burning stands the test of time rather well, considering.
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆