The Burning (1981)


Plot: A former summer camp caretaker, horribly burned from a prank gone wrong, lurks around an upstate New York summer camp bent on killing the teenagers responsible for his disfigurement.

Our picture begins at Camp Blackfoot, which is definitely in no way related to Camp Crystal Lake. Some of teenagers are planning to scare the shit out of Cropsy. Cropsy is the caretaker of the camp. Their big plan is to put a DECAYING SKULL WITH CANDLES IN THE EYES next to him and then wake him up. Cropsy wakes up, freaks out, and ends up getting caught on fire. Way to fucking go, assholes. You just killed a dude. Pieces of shit. Never mind that Cropsy suddenly had a helmet on during the fire. Not only did these shits do nothing to help put out the fire, but then they just left the dude after he fell down a hill and rolled into the lake.


Well, Cropsy lived. At the hospital, he's apparently the worst burn in history, which the nurse seems to think is pretty awesome. Cropsy does not and creepily grabs nurse's arm to put that dude in his place.. Five years later, he is finally released. The skin graphs didn't take and there is really nothing they can do for him. Cropsy is free.

Some pretty dope shots of seedy ass 80s New York as Cropsy wanders around. Some of the shots are in first person. He finds a hooker. Of course he kills her. She didn't do shit to him. She was just a middle aged, kind of sloppy hooker and he stabbed her in the gut with giant scissors, then shoved her out of the window.  Prick.


TO CAMP STONEWATER. Among the kids/counselors at Stonewater is Jason Alexander (with a full head of hair), Fisher Stevens, and Ned Eisenberg (with a full head of hair). Cropsy is in the woods. The counselors/kids are playing baseball. Watch out, y'all. One girl almost gets stabbed looking for the ball, but for some reason, Cropsy doesn't pull the trigger.

Time for a gratuitous shower scene. You think it's going to be Cropsy looking at the girl, but SWERVE, it was a nerd spying on the girl. And instead of being seen as a "lol we saw boobies yay!" type scene, it's portrayed as an invasion of privacy and something he should be kicked out of camp for it. The male counselor gets all up in this nerd's shit, but the nerd reveals that he didn't want to go to camp and that he has no friends. Elsewhere, the ladies talk about it all, and which boys they want to bang.

The nerd isn't a strong swimmer. So the shithead jock shoves him into the lake like a real cunt. Also, lol at Costanza swimming in his shirt. This leads to the jock getting shot in the ass with a BB gun and shoved into the water himself by the girls. Also, you get to see George's ass, and a bit of Fisher's balls.

Later that night, we see that the boys have a lot of porn and smokes. "That's the world bantamweight jerk-off champ over there, eh." George is selling a bag of rubbers for $5.  It appears he has a whole racket going on. During this party, Nerd sees a creepy face in the window, ever so briefly.  Most of Jason Alexander's dialogue is dick related.


Things follow your traditional camp movie template. Pranks, playing in the lake, dinner in the mess hall, and spooky stories around the camp fire. The story of Cropsy is told. I'm starting to think this counselor was one of the kids who set Cropsy on fire. This, of course, leads to the fake out Cropsy to scare all the kids. SWERVE!

We get to see Ned guy basically try to rape a girl in the lake. While Cropsy watches. Cropsy apparently hid her clothes in the woods to bait her into his area so he could kill her. Tactical espionage. Also rude as shit. That girl almost got raped and now gets killed in the woods for no reason. Piece of shit. I can understand why he was mad, but this girl didn't burn you. In fact, NO women burned you. Fuck head. That aging hooker didn't do shit to you, either. You big burned fuck head.


Not only is the girl missing, but now the canoes are missing. Strange shit is afoot. Wow, more almost rapey stuff. At least men being forcible and pervy is not portrayed in any kind of positive way here, which is pretty wacky considering even comedies at the same time were portraying the main character raping women as good thing. A group of kids are sent out to find the canoes. They found one. They also found Cropsy. SWERVE! They're all summarily slaughtered. Just wiped out a huge chunk of the group just like that. How long had he been hiding in the canoe? What if no one ever found him? Was he just taking a nap and figured he might as well kill the kids? 


Here is where shit gets wacky. You see, the nerd was being his normal creepy self and went to spy on the jock banging his lady. Cropsy showed up and killed both, so Nerd went back and got the counselor (who was stabbed in the head, but didn't die). Around the same time, the raft that all the dead kids were on floats by the rest of the kids and they search it to find their friends all cut up and shit. 

Now, here is where this cast of kids show they are smarter than basically every horror movie cast ever. They just...go back to camp and don't chase after the fucking killer. They stay together. They don't go back into the fucking woods.  However, Nerd was left on his own, with Cropsy chasing after him, so Todd The Counselor (revealed to be one of the kids who scared the shit out of Cropsy) heads out to find him. They end up in an abandoned mine shaft, where Crospy comes after his ass with a flame thrower. Eventually, Todd and Nerd team up and kill Cropsy by stabbing him in the base of the neck, axing him in the fucking head, and then setting him on fire. Years later, a man who I would assume is Nerd is telling the story of Cropsy around a campfire to teenagers. 2spooky4me.


This is an interesting movie, for a number of reasons. First off, it was written by Bob Weinstein, produced by Harvey Weinstein, and was the first movie released by Miramax. Secondly, Tom Savini dropped out of doing Friday The 13th 2 to do this. But really, the most interesting thing to me is how it plays with the slasher genre tropes, when the slasher genre was still pretty new. There is an equal amount of male and female nudity. Men being pervs and pushy towards sex are depicted as pieces of shit that should be shamed for their actions, instead of celebrated like in many films around the same time. No one hangs out in the woods alone. Once the killer is revealed, everyone stays together and as far away as possible. This means that the majority of the cast stays alive. If there was a main character, it was a nerdy guy. No scream queen. The killer has a pretty legitimate reason to be mad, and the kid who caused it to happen matures and tries to make sure kids at camp don't do the same awful bullshit. 

It's a quality slasher movie that does a lot of things fairly uniquely, despite appearing to be a F13th knock off on the surface. Plus a young Jason Alexander with hair showing his ass.