Thursday, 14 May 2009

The Burning

Director: Tony Maylam
Writers: Harvey Weinstein and Tony Maylam
USA 1981

"The Burning" is so straightforward it could be a government advisory panel example of the teenagers-in-peril slasher, with a summer camp of high school students being pursued by a maniac with a pair of garden sheers taking up the entire film with little deviation. This simplicity gives the film's other aspects plenty of room to breathe, with a great cast of believable youngsters and an atmospheric lakeside location setting the scene for some old school, bright-red gore (though surprisingly little actual burning).

It takes a while to get going but there are plenty of killings once it does, the garden sheers piercing throats and slicing off fingers, with one astonishing rampage of utter carnage aboard a canoe setting up a devastating scene when it drifts downstream towards the unsuspecting camp. It's filmed beautifully and leaves little room for complaint, but despite being one of the gorier nasties feels a little run-of-the-mill and predictable. Great by teen slasher standards, but falling short of the more intelligent films on the list.

Two things lift "The Burning" considerably: Rick Wakeman's electronic score is fantastic and does a lot for the atmospheric tone of the film, and while it's certainly Goblin-influenced it's a pleasant change to hear a good horror movie score that isn't by the Italian disco-prog-rockers. Secondly and perhaps most importantly "The Burning" stars a young Jason Alexander, aka George Costanza from "Seinfeld", who furthermore has a pretty big part. It's just a shame he isn't one of the ones chopped up with garden sheers. That would have been brilliant.


Derek said...

I found a clip of this flick on You Tube the other week - the infamous canoe sequence in it's gory uncut form - and it was pretty intense. I think I'll have to hunt down a copy and watch it one day. I remember it being talked about at school in the early 80's as being one of the key 'extreme' horror flicks to watch. I vaguely recall the rental video cover as well in grimy old "Ace Video" in Great Yarmouth!

Ben said...

That's by far the best scene but the rest of the film's pretty good too, defo worth seeing, especially if you're into slasher movies.

I'm well jealous that you can remember seeing the original VHS...

Derek said...

Remember it? Just the video cover I'm afraid, leering down at me from the top shelf amongst the other OTT horror flicks.

Yesh, it was sleazy and dingy in that shop! haha!