Monday, June 17, 2013

BURN, BABY, BURN


Scream Factory’s new Blu-Ray/DVD release of The Burning (1981) sees the label continuing its tradition of giving cult 1970s/80s genre films the love and respect they (usually) deserve.

At a summer camp in Western New York, a prank performe
d by a bunch of kids on the mean groundskeeper, Cropsy, backfires and results in him being burnt beyond all recognition and left barely alive. After being released from the hospital after five years of medical treatments and rehabilitation, Cropsy heads immediately for seedy Times Square and murders a horrified low-rent hooker (so much for that rehabilitation program!), before heading back to his old summer camp stomping grounds and slicing and dicing his way through a group of the usual over-sexed (and over-aged) teenagers.

One of the better (and first) of the Friday the 13th copycats, The Burning certainly follows the tried and true formula of the limited genre. There are certainly no real surprises on offer, but the direction by Tony Maylam is energetic, the make-up effects are some of the best of Tom Savini’s early career, and there’s a pretty cool synth score by Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman that helps set it apart from its contemporaries. The Burning was also one of the first projects from Miramax Films (Harvey Weinstein produced and Bob Weinstein co-wrote the screenplay), and it marked the film debuts for future Oscar winner Holly Hunter, Fisher (Short Circuit) Stevens and Jason Alexander (who flashes his lilywhite ass and is already developing his obnoxious George Costanza personality).

Scream Factory’s release includes an audio commentary by director Maylam and film writer Alan Jones, original theatrical trailer, making-of featurettes and more. The print sourced has a few flecks of grime and the odd scratch, but the 1080p transfer itself looks superb. Really crisp and sharp, surprised me how well the film was originally photographed, since I've previously only ever seen this film on the (butchered) VHS release. A must-have for fans of the genre.