The Film (4/5)
Friday the 13th, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Maniac, The Prowler, THE BURNING. These are 5 early 80's slasher films that feature the Special FX contributions of Mr. Tom Savini, and also happen to be some of my favorite slashers of all-time. Is that a coincidence, very probably, but when the subgenre you're working in is practically based on creative kills it certainly helps to have one of the masters of practical makeup FX setting them up
The Burning is fairly standard in the storytelling department. Basically, the Janitor at a summer camp, Cropsy is the victim of a prank that causes his cabin, and in turn himself to be set ablaze. After a 5 year recovery process that leaves him physically well, but totally disfigured he returns to the camp just in time for summer. He, of course, isn't looking for a janitorial position, but to seek his revenge on those who caused his disfigurement (only 1 of whom is currently at the camp), and begins a massive killing spree.
OK, so you've seen Friday the 13th 1-9 and Sleepaway Camp 1-3, you pretty much know what you're getting story wise with The Burning. However, The Burning came early enough in the slasher life cycle to where it still felt like a cash-in on more popular films, but did not feel redundant. There are 2 main things that separate The Burning from other slashers of the era, 1. The gore effects in this film courtesy of the aforementioned Tom Savini. The effects he provides are over the top, and superb, and 2. The film has a pretty epic misanthropic streak even for a slasher film. If you've seen the film, you don't need me to outline the highlights, but if you haven’t there is a massacre on a raft that has to be seen to be believed, and this is probably the films highlight moment, there's also a moment where a pair of gardening sheers is jammed through a victims throat. For sheer slasher violence The Burning simply cannot be beat.
The Burning also has a few distinctions, it is an early Miramax film made prior to the Brothers Weinstein making it big in the 90's with various indie film successes, and is actually co-written by Harvey Weinstein. There is also an awesome very 80's synth heavy score couresty of Yes' Rick Wakeman. Aside from the over-the-top violence what the Burning has primarily become known for is being one of those "Before they were famous" films, this one featuring Seinfeld's George Costanza himself Jason Alexander.
The Burning is one of the greats of 80's slasher-dom. It has had a reputation as such since it's release, and it's reputation has maintained through the intervening decades. If you are looking for a good gory time, the Burning is certainly one to check out.
Scream Factory have unleashed The Burning in a very nice 1080p AVC encoded 1:85:1 transfer preserving the films original aspect ratio. The transfer does an excellent job accurately reproducing the natural look of the film for the HD era. The color reproduction is accurate, as are flesh tones. The level of detail is increased over the recent DVD edition, and there is a healthy organic grain structure present throughout the transfer.
Scream has presented The Burning with a DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio Mono track in English with Optional English subtitles included. The track is suitable for the film with dialogue coming through clean and clear as well as the score. I did not detect any moments of pops, cracks, hissing or any sort of audio distortion.
Scream Factory brings the Burning to Blu-ray with an incredible slate of extras, a few ported over from the prior MGM edition, but many created exclusively for this Scream Factory edition. The disc opens with a pair of commentary tracks the first with director Tony Maylam, and noted genre journalist Alan Jones. The second track features cast members Shelley Bruce and Bonnie Deroski. We then get Blood and Fire a look at the films Special FX with Tom Savini, this is an 18 minute piece with Tom Savini, and is my personal highlight of the set. We then get a 12 minute interview with the films editor entitled Slash & Cut. This is followed by an interview with Cropsy himself, actor Lou David who talks for 11 minutes about his role in the film. Summer Camp Nightmares is up next, and is a 7 minute long interview with Leah Ayres about her career, and role in the film. We then get 8 minutes of behind the scenes footage. The disc is rounded off with a Make Up Stills Gallery, Stills Gallery, and the Films Theatrical Trailer.
The Burning is one of the most violent slashers of the 80's. That amazing violence comes courtesy of Special FX wizard Tom Savini, and has never looked better than it does on this extremely well restored Blu-ray edition from Scream Factory. The A/V restoration is fantastic, and the extras are elaborate, entertaining, and informative. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.