Movie Review: The Burning (1981)

Synopsis: Five years after a prank went wrong and set him on fire, the significantly disfigured former summer camp caretaker, Cropsy, is released from the hospital. Shortly after, he steals a pair of shears and begins killing summer camp counselors for revenge.

Who's in it? The movie stars Brian Matthews, Jason Alexander, Ned Eisenberg, Holly Hunter, Lou David and Fisher Stevens.

Review: I was in the mood to watch a horror movie with my wife last night and, after a quick search, decided to give this one a try. It sounded like the type of slasher film we would normally enjoy but it turned out to be a disappointment.

I have a number of complaints about this film. The main one would be the awfully long time it takes for Cropsy (David) to do any real damage. It seemed like an eternity before he kills one of the campers and, after that, the movie makes you wait even longer before his next victim. When combined with some of the most annoying horror movie music I've ever listened to (people actually bought the soundtrack to this?), the film seems a lot longer than it actually is.

Another thing I found I didn't like about this movie is it fails to give the viewer a decent Cropsy backstory. It lets you know he was a drunk and an ass but not much else. Without better details about the type of person he was before the prank, it is hard to tell how much being disfigured actually influenced his actions. For all we know, he was already a serial killer and just took a few years off because he was hospitalized.

To tell you the truth, I didn't even think Cropsy was the creepiest character in this movie. In my opinion at least, the voyeur Alfred (Brian Backer) was much creepier. He was weird enough for me to wonder if maybe the movie would have some sort of surprise twist that revealed he was the killer and Cropsy was back home chugging beers while watching a movie. In fact, I kind of think the movie would have been much better had that been the case.

Final Opinion: This could have been a good movie had the filmmakers put a little more effort into their villain and cut out a lot of the useless material that had little or no bearing on the plot. In it's current form, it just wasn't that enjoyable for me.

My Grade: D


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