The Burning (Special Edition DVD) Review

Poster Art Country : USA
Year: 1981
Genre: Slasher
Format: DVD (2007 Re-Issue)
Running Time: 91 minutes
Distributor: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

The classic tale of legendary maniac Cropsy is back in a gloriously sizzling new digital presentation....

Directed by Tony Maylam. Written by Tony Maylam, Harvey Weinstein, Brad Grey and Peter Lawrence. Starring Brian Matthews, Leah Ayres, Brian Backer, Lou David, Ned Eisenberg, Fisher Stevens, Holly Hunter and Jason Alexander.

I saw The Burning at the Joy Twin Cinema drive-in in my hometown of Texarkana, TX. The Joy Twin was a former porno drive-in and the late show was half-filled with high school and college students. So as the sun went down, I munched on my popcorn and candy, and thought my grandmother (who regularly took me and my brother to horror films) was just the coolest.

Of course, you all know the story of The Burning, right? Well, if not....lets have a refresher for you young'uns -- A caretaker at a summer camp is burned when a prank goes tragically wrong. After several years of intensive treatment at hospital, he is released back into society, albeit missing some social skills. What follows is a bloody killing spree with the caretaker making his way back to his old stomping ground to confront one of the youths that accidentally burned him.

'You looking at ME?' the horribly burned Cropsy seems to ask this horrified intern in THE BURNING!

The opening sequence showed the ultimate downfall of the meanie Cropsy and the audience screamed loudly and happily: It's fun to be scared. I will never forget the Cropsy's breathing, and stalking. One by one, he picks off the kids. And screw Jaws, the raft scene made me never want to go near the lake again. All this did was add to my existing fears of young Jason prowling the waters, waiting to pull me into the murky depths.

So, after almost everyone has been killed in a gleefully disgusting and violent way, we get a great finale and the ending that literally burned itself into my memories forever. Cropsy swinging from that hook and the flames licking his heels. I wondered, how the hell could they bring him back? And surely they would right? Nope....Tony Maylam's stalk and kill masterpiece never got the sequel it deserved. And at 31 years old, I am still waiting on the damn thing. But, we will probably get a remake before too long.

Fisher Stevens loses some fingers before losing his life in THE BURNING.

The Burning was at the forefront of the "Mad Slasher and Dead Teenager" genres; and in the 80s, about two dozen movies a year featured a mad killer going berserk, yet none of them were as good as this one. Covering my eyes and sinking into my grandmother's Cadillac at the Joy Twin, it's these memories that ultimately gave me my love of the genre and made me want to write and direct horror films. They involved teenagers that smoked pot, had sex, listened to rock and roll, and were dispatched with every possible tool, machete, chainsaw, power drill and axe. Their primary reason for existing in the film was to be hacked to death!

And while they really don't make em' like this anymore, it sure as shit gives me the chills when the DVDs finally come out, have a good transfer, and we are graced with some extras! So, enough with my Red Bull-fueled sermon, let's talk about the DVD that just came out.

Handsome, ain't he?  Cropsy in THE BURNING.

While it's not as loaded as I'd like it to be, it's still nice to hear the audio commentary by director Tony Maylam and international film journalist Alan Jones. And of course the "Blood 'N' Fire Memories featurette" is pretty cool and lets you see ole' Mr. Personality himself (Tom Savini) in a good mood for a change. It's also great to finally dump my old bootleg and have a nice anamorphic transfer. Ahhhh... and of the feature that completes every special edition: a theatrical trailer.

So, for those who have seen it, it's worth picking up, and for those who haven't seen it it's definitely worth picking up... can't beat the $12.99 sticker price for sure.

DVD Special Features:

* Audio commentary by director Tony Maylam and international film journalist Alan Jones
* Blood 'N' Fire Memories featurette
* Trailer


Review by John Gray, for Pitofhorror.com

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