The Burning

DVD Reviews | Nov 1st, 2007

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Starring Brian Matthews, Leah Ayres, Brian Backer, Jason Alexander
Written By: Harvey Weinstein, Tony Maylam, Brad Grey, Peter Lawrence
Directed By: Tony Maylam
Studio: MGM
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What do you get when you cross a low budget, a plot inspired by a campfire legend, a hideously burned killer with a giant pair of hedge trimmers, and a bunch of horny teenagers at a summer camp? A surprisingly effective low-budget Friday the 13th knockoff, that’s what! The Burning was released a year (almost to the day) after Friday, and featured a similar idea the kids at the camp getting offed by a horrible murderer, complete with all the gratuitous nudity and Tom Savini effects you could ask for. But you know what? I actually really liked this obscure flick.

To start with, it wasn’t predictable. When I watch the Friday movies (or most other slashers, for that matter) I can tell exactly when something is going to be a fake scare (the cat or obnoxious friend jumping out at the wrong time), a near-miss (the killer is there but doesn’t get the kill just yet), or the actual kill. Well, The Burning started out a lot like that, but at about the halfway mark became completely unpredictable, even going so far as to have an unexpected mass-killing at one point, and ending with a whole lot of survivors to boot. But possibly the most surprising thing is the presence of a young Jason Alexander, complete with… that’s right… a full head of hair!

Well anyway, the plot kicks off with a prank against a mean, violent camp handyman a prank that goes horribly wrong and ends with the evil handyman spending five years in the hospital in the burn ward. And when he gets out, well… yeah, he’s pissed. And his skin grafts didn’t take, either. And he has garden sheers!

I particularly liked the ending, which takes place in a surprisingly atmospheric old building (I think it was a barn or something?) complete with rolling carts of doom and random highly combustible things. I have to admit I even liked some of the characters, teen-slasher-stereotypes though they may be; most were oddly likeable rather than annoying.

Overall, I’d say yeah, this is actually a really good classic slasher movie. It may have the stereotypical ingredients of the disfigured maniac, the horny/frequently stripping teens, and the summer camp, but there are some genuine surprises and even a few very tense scenes, as opposed to the boringly predictable “scares” found in most of these movies.

Audio commentary
Making of featurette

Dolby Digital mono

1.85:1 widescreen (color)

English, Spanish, French

Favorite Scenes: The ending, the river scene
Rating: R
Running Time: 91 minutes
Extras Rating:
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