The Burning is a 1981 slasher horror film directed by Tony Maylam, with a soundtrack by prog rock musician Rick Wakeman (from the band Yes). It tells the story of a cruel, alcoholic, sadistic caretaker at a summer camp (nicknamed “Cropsy” and based on the urban legend of Cropsey) who falls victim to a prank that went out of control which leaves him horribly burned and disfigured. Following his release from hospital, he returns to his old stomping ground and begins a murder spree…
The film was one of the first from Miramax Films: Harvey Weinstein produced the film and Bob Weinstein was a co-writer. Jason Alexander, Fisher Stevens and future Oscar winner Holly Hunter all made their motion picture debuts in this film.
The Burning appeared on the British Director of Public Prosecution’s list as a so-called ‘video nasty‘ when major company Thorn EMI issued it in an uncensored version seemingly by mistake, but was quickly dropped from the list when the BBFC ‘X’ rated version was substituted. This censored version was stamped by EMI on its label to differentiate it from the uncut version, dealers being encouraged to return any rogue copies. See the film’s UK censorship history on the Melonfarmers website.
British director Tony Maylam’s direction is classy, even at times stylish – look out for a great Argento-like shot early on in the film where a jet of blood hits a mirror, momentarily illuminated by a flash of lightning. Maylam maintains a furious pace throughout – even the film’s most infamous sequence where some teens are slaughtered on a raft is furiously cut together, the five kills done and dusted within 30 seconds, lending the sequence a powerful frisson similar to the first murder set piece in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” Wes M, Plutonium Shores
“Like other forgotten slashers such as The Prowler and My Bloody Valentine, it’s a sadly overlooked movie. It’s not the best you’ll see, but when the blood starts to flow, it’s more than you were expecting.” Bryan White, Cinema Suicide