Scream Factory’s increasing reputation as an imprint of Shout! Factory, for releasing classic/cult horror films, had me wanting to check one out for a while now. The Burning has been one of my favorite slasher films for a long time, and I was eager to watch it again, this time in full hd. There also seemed enough in the way of special features, that it would be more than worth looking into.
The Burning is about a guy who is a caretaker at a summer camp, who is burned and disfigured badly when a group of kids play a horrible prank on him, resulting in a terrible accident. The victim of the prank is Cropsy, and he somehow survives the incident.
Fast forward five years later, Cropsy is back, and he wants revenge!
Plenty of formulaic slasher elements are present from there. Young horny teens, irresponsible adults, sex, violence and some nudity, are all there in good amounts. But the real stars of the show are Tom Savini’s special effects and make-up, along with Rick Wakemen’s terrific music score.
Tom Savini around the time this movie was made was the man when it came to special effects and gore gags in slasher films. He was fresh off doing The Prowler and Friday the 13th, when beginning work on The Burning. Needless to say, Tom didn’t disappoint. Plenty of creative and practical gore effects were used and even today, I found it all an absolute treat to watch.
The look used for Cropsy was effectively disgusting, and the maniac appears on camera with the perfect frequency — not too little, and not too much.
Among the few great gore gag moments, the highlight has to be the massacre on the make-shift raft. Up to that point the proceedings, though entertaining, had been unremarkable. This raft scene took things to another level and is easily one of the more memorable moments in slasher film history.
Rick Wakeman’s music is freakin’ iconic in this film for anyone that’s a slasher film connoisseur. The main theme music in The Burning has been stuck in my head all day after watching it. I would love to track down the official soundtrack if I could find it some day.
The Burning is pretty standard slasher fare, but its done right, and is a lot of fun; though never too unintentional about it. Cropsy is one of the better slasher villain creations of all time, in my opinion.
One of the more well known facts about this film is the fact that Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander is one of the campers. But really, who cares?
Now let’s take a quick look at the actual blu-ray package for The Burning:
Visually, this disc (a blu-ray and dvd are included, this review is for the blu-ray) is a treat to look at, especially some of the day time scenes by the water. For a film from 1981, it still looks pretty good today, and they did a great job with this transfer. The HD visuals didn’t take away from some of the practical special effects, ,meaning, the higher rez didn’t make them look cheap.
The audio is 2.0 DTS HD. Everything sounded excellent and seemed to hold true to the way the sounds were originally mixed. The screams are louder and clearer than ever, almost too much at times!
Audio commentary with director Tony Maylam and journalist Alan Jones:
This was a decent track to listen to. Maylam makes no bones about the fact that The Burning was made to cash in on the slasher boom of the early 80s and concedes that there is nothing too ground breaking about it. However, he did give me the sense that he is proud to have been a part of making this movie and the experience was a good starting point for his career. Normally I’m not a huge fan of commentary tracks, but this one was fairly easy to listen to.
There was also a second commentary track with actors Shelley Bruce and Bonnie Deroski, but at the time of this writing I haven’t listened to it yet.
Blood ‘n’ Fire Memories: is a nice look at Tom Savini’s creations and special effects. This was easily the most enjoyable extra on the disc. Savini looked like he genuinely enjoyed discussing the film and is proud of his work on it.
An interview with actor Lou David, who played, Cropsy, was decent. There were also a few good behind-the-scenes moments, make-up effects and poster & still galleries are also there. I really liked some of the different posters and promo art used for this film.
All in all, this is an excellent package. The extras are not bad but the real reason to own this thing, is for the superb presentation of the film itself.
I can’t see how any fan of 80s slashers will be let down by this. Definitely worth it.