Friday, October 9, 2015

THE BURNING (1981)



Directed By: Tony Maylam 
Written By: Bob Weinstein & Peter Lawrence 
Original Story By: Harvey Weinstein, Brad Grey & Tony Maylam 
Created By: Harvey Weinstein 
Cinematography By: Harvey Harrison 
Editor: Jack Shoulder 


Cast: Brian Matthews, Leah Ayres, Brian Baker, Ned Eisenberg, Larry Joshua, Jason Alexander, Fisher Stevens, Lou David, Holly Hunter
*Please note that some trivia and facts have been republished from imdb among other sources In this review

A janitor at a summer camp is accidently burned severely from a prank. Years later, he is released from an institute, and returns to the camp with a pair of hedge clippers to take revenge on the campers.

If there was such a thing as a horror exploration film this would be a good example of one. Though some will argue and point out that horror seems to be exploitation in itself as some films use that factor to go to extremes when it comes to certain aspects such as sex, violence and nudity but horror as a genre usually embraces the basics of exploitation such as heavy sexual content, graphic violence, nudity. In fact horror could just be simple exploration it sensationalized all of it's elements for thrills and chills. It wants immediate reaction from the audience such as some filmmakers use music and slow motion. An emotional scene to sway you and make you cry during certain scenes during the movies. That filmmakers such as Michael Bay (PEARL HARBOR), Paul Haggis (CRASH) and Steven Spielberg are guilty of this, in fact I believe it became a tradition through Mr. Spielberg and it becoming a trademark of his, other filmmakers saw how audiences reacted to his method of using it and copied or borrowed it.

This film reminds me of a rusty hammer, It's low budget and feels used yet familiar and trusty. The kills and gore seem somewhat realistic, but yet somewhat fake at the same time. This is actual early Tom Savini special effects here. Which you can see has a certain style.

Tom Savini was not particularly happy with Cropsy's burn make-up as he was only given three days to work on it. He turned dow FRIDAY THE 13TH: PART 2. To work on this film

This film came out before FRIDAY THE 13TH and seems to be a little more interesting even though It follows the same formula. This. Film seems a little more cut and dry style then the FRIDAY THE 13th films. Which has the advantage of a twist ending.

This film involves serial killer kills kids at summer camp. They suspect one person, but it is really someone from the past, who almost seems supernatural this is not a spoiler as you learn the who and the why during the first few minutes of the film.

This is the film that launched the careers of acclaimed producers Harvey Weinstein and Bob Weinstein. Their mother Miriam Weinstein is also a pre-production assistant on the film.

Harvey Weinstein claims that he actually wrote this film before the release of Friday the 13th, which many critics say this film imitates.

I liked this film because other than having some recognizable cast members before they were stars or at least well known. Some of the cast is obviously older then the characters they play. It also seems like the victims are all the actual age of their characters and not in their late 20's. So essentially it makes the film more disturbing as it seems more like we are watching actual children/teenagers getting killed.

This is a film I only discovered recently and I'm glad I did. If you are a horror fan it is a definite must see.

The film is low budget so it doesn't have the best production values, but think of it as a naturalistic movie.

Believe it or not Jason Alexander steals the whole movie. He is funny, and charismatic. He has hair here too. He makes the character three dimensional and real. You couldn't make a movie like this necessarily today. Maybe some modern day horror filmmaker upstarts should try not to sensationalize the violence. No rapid edit scenes to death. So that half the time you don't know why you are looking at or what is going on. So that half of the time the film doesn't feel predictable even though it's actions are. Take time leisurely To build characters we care about so when death comes it is felt more.

Also they are supposed to make it a horror film and not just a thriller. Make the characters realistic enough an make realistic reasons. Not ironic in the know jokes and decisions. If you are going to have sex and nudity don't sensationalize it and have models. As then it seems like that is all your movie has and is not only shallow but hollow. Cast the right people as around the same age. Have good special effects with little to no CGI.

In other words don't do what most horror films seem to do these days. But don't leave it always to our imaginations. Don't overdue the gone, no sequels, remakes or reimagining’s tone down the social commentary unless skilled in it. Keep it simple sometimes.

The concept of the film (originally scripted as "The Cropsy Maniac") is based on a campfire story told at summer camps in and around New Jersey and upstate New York. The story is still in circulation. The story is also the basis for the 2009 documentary CROPSY though this film is not referenced in the documentary.

The scene at the hospital where Cropsy's burned arm reaches out of an oxygen tent and grabs the orderly's arm was inspired by a scene in MAD MAX involving Mel Gibson's character visiting his burned partner (unseen except for a severely burned right arm) in a hospital and fleeing after seeing his near-death partner's burned face.

It's interesting, In films characters are supposed to be close. Though they quickly get over friends death. as the characters were never truly introduced to the audience we don't care. Though in better horror films though we know the victims the leads still get over the deaths quick until the end when they feel the weight of the tragedy. Though we in the audience have been mourning them ever since they left the film.


Grade: C+

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