80’s Slasher Throwback: “The Burning”

In a summer camp named “Camp Blackfoot”, a group of boys are planning to pull a prank on the weird, alcoholic, masochistic caretaker, Cropsy, during the middle of the night. They sneak into his cabin and set a rotting skull on fire, only to have Cropsy wake up and accidentally knock the skull onto his gas tank, causing flames to spread all over the cabin. The horrified boys then watch as Cropsy, engulfed in flames, stumbles out and falls down a ravine into a river, putting out the flames. Five years later, Cropsy is released from hospital, wearing a heavy coat, sunglasses and hat to hide his deformities. Out of rage, he murders a female prostitute. He then sets out to another summer camp named “Camp Stonewater”.

The camp is populated with many characters, who are each going through their own situations: Eddy wants to get it on with the shy hottie Karen, Todd struggles as head counselor and seeks to find time to be with his girlfriend Michelle, eccentric and shy Alfred is trying to make friends with Dave, Woodstock and Fish, who are all trying to get back at cocky, cruel Glazer, who lusts for cutie Sally.

Cropsy makes it to the camp as everyone is playing baseball, and almost kills a female camper, but hesitates too long. The next morning, Sally goes to take a shower, senses that someone is inside the showers, and pulls back the curtain, exposing a shocked Alfred, who runs out of the shower. Sally’s screams bring Karen, Michelle, Todd and Eddy, who catch Alfred, who Michelle insists should be thrown out, but Todd takes him to have a stern talking-to instead. During this conversation, Todd learns that Alfred does not have any friends, and was just trying to pull a prank on Sally to make her laugh. After the discussion, Glazer attacks Alfred and warns him to stay away from Sally, but Todd breaks them up, telling Glazer to cool off, and lets Alfred go and apologize to Sally.

Night rolls around, and Alfred spots Cropsy outside his window, but no one believes him, so he, Dave, Fish, and Woodstock go to the mess hall with everyone else. While everyone is eating, Karen tells Michelle that she and Eddy are going to spend the night together, and that she should be back before morning. After supper, everyone then goes to sleep, except for Karen and Eddy who sneak off into the woods by another lake, to skinny-dip. They begin to fool around in the lake, while someone takes Karen’s clothes. Just as Eddy and Karen are about to have sex, Karen decides she’s not ready, upsetting Eddy who tries to force himself on her, making her slap him. Eddy is outraged and orders her to leave him, which she does, only to discover that her clothes have been strewn all over the woods. She begins to collect them all, until she reaches her last article of clothing on a tree, where she is grabbed by Cropsy and has her throat viciously slashed. And Cropsy is just getting started….

A fun “Friday the 13th” rip-off that has some great death scenes and a memorable villain (Crospey has been and will always be freaky as hell. The problem with “The Burning”? Too many damn characters. So many characters in fact that none of them really leave an impression so that you don’t care who lives and who dies. This is a fun movie, don’t get me wrong, but I always thought that it could be a better movie than what it is. So, why is it one of my favorite slashers of the 1980’s? Simple. The deaths. And I do mean the deaths. The deaths in this splatter film have to be seen to be believed. Everything that you would want to see with garden sheers to nubile teens are done to extraordinary effect. Credit Tom Savini who does some of his best make up work to date with this fun little slasher title. Looking for a gory good time? Make a date with “The Burning”.