The Burning (1981)

“Man, this guy is so burned, he’s cooked! A fucking Big Mac, overdone!” A cut above (no pun intended!) the typical early 1980’s slasher film starts with a prank gone wrong—a group of campers accidentally burns the cruel, alcoholic caretaker (nicknamed “Cropsy” for his love of a pair of gardening shears), leaving him horribly disfigured (at “Camp Blackfoot”—get it?). This poor dude spends the next five years in a hospital and then they release him to the streets. The first thing Cropsy (Lou David) does is follow one of the ugliest prostitutes in movie history up to her apartment where he dispatches her with a pair of scissors and then makes his way back to the woods to wreak vengeance upon a group of campers with his favorite pair of gardening shears. What makes The Burning really notable is the appearance of some young actors who would go on and do significantly bigger and better things (okay so that might be a stretch) such as Jason Alexander, Holly Hunter and Fisher Stevens. In addition, look for Brian Backer, the dopey kid who starred as Mark “Rat” Ratner in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Directed by Tony Maylam, The Burning was one of the first films to be produced by Harvey and Bob Weinstein of the newly created Miramax Films. The film also features great special makeup effects from “The Sultan of Splatter” Tom Savini, who also worked on Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980), among many others. Oh yeah, the soundtrack even features a score by famous English keyboardist Rick Wakeman and includes songs with such amusing titles as “Variations on the Fire,” “Shear Terror” and “Doin’ It.” Finally, if you are totally desperate and depraved, The Burning offers a couple of full frontal nudity shots. Which reminds me, what the hell ever happened to Carrick Glenn? She just about steals the entire movie with a hot shower scene! The character of “Cropsy” was based on a campfire urban legend documented in the 2009 film Cropsey.

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