In the cult horror circles here in Los Angeles there’s one movie that fanatics obsess over more than most. That movie is The Burning. I’ve been on multiple sets where everyone from the gaffers to the director are chatting about the brilliance of and immense impact that The Burning had on them.
The Burning, like many horror films from the 80’s, centers on a group of summer camp inhabitants. The course of the narative seems predictable and pedantic by todays standards. Someone starts killing the campers and the camp’s faculty. But there’s something different about the way The Burning approaches this tried and true genre trope. The film builds up to it with well timed, well thought out gags that both build suspense and serve to further the plot. It would be irresponsible to talk about the Burning without mentioning the film’s score. They Carpenter-esque score is both riveting, horrifying, and just down right fun.
Over the course of the film we follow multiple kids at the camp, and delightfully there’s no apparent Survivor Girl. The film is an atmospheric joyride into just how creepy summer camp was in the 80’s. The Burning hits every moment so precisely that you almost leave the movie wondering if any of the other ‘summer camp movies’ mater. The Burning is what Sleepaway Camp and Friday the 13th wanted to be.
Everything from the design of the villain, Cropsey, to the various types of campers that exist within the film to the cinematography are all on point. The film also launched the careers of a few notable actors including Jason Alexander, Holly Hunter and Fisher Stevens.
The Burning is just bordering on Cult Classic. It’s really more on the Hardcore Nerds Love This Movie But No One Else Has Even Heard Of It. The Burning one of those 80’s movies that everyone should see just because it’s obviously influenced many, many films afterwards.
The Burning is a slasher film with no delusions of grandeur and no ulterior goals. It’s just trying to be the best, most simply executed, slasher film it can be. It’s not trying to be the Citizen Kane of slasher films. It’s just trying to be the leanest meanest and most down and dirty slasher you’ve ever seen. In an age of meta-textual over reference and inside jokes and irony it’s so refreshing to see something that just plays everything straight. Even if it is from 30 years ago.
Go now and see The Burning. Do it. You won’t regret it.
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Tagged: cropsey, fisher stevens, friday the 13th, george costanza, holly hunter, jason alexander, sienfeld, the burning, the burning sequel
Posted in: Cult Movies, Featured (Film), Film, Film Reviews, Horror Films