Fright Fest Review #1: The Burning (1981)

When you see it…

Subgenre:  Slasher

Summary:  A group of kids pull a prank on their camp’s sadistic caretaker, accidentally burning him beyond belief in the process.  Years later, the disfigured maniac returns to his old stomping grounds to terrorize a new generation of campers.

Review:  The Burning exists in the well-trodden realm of early 80s campground slasher flicks, along with Sleepaway Camp and the original Friday the 13thAnd while it may lack the jaw-dropping ending of the former or the heart-pounding scares of the latter, it’s still decent in its own right.

What sets The Burning apart its contemporaries (other than the presence of GEORGE COSTANZA) is its sense of realism. Cropsy is a more human slasher villain than we’re used to; he’s neither invincible nor capable of superhuman strength. While his methods of dispatching teens may lack variety, they all feel uncomfortably believable.  And though the movie drags in the middle, it manages to pull itself together for a thrilling climax, as well as a playfully spooky epilogue.

The Verdict:  Though its slow pace can be a bit of a slog at times, as a campground slasher, The Burning ultimately delivers.  I give it six crispy caretakers out of ten.

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