What happens when you take the essence of the Friday the 13th movie series and get together a good solid production team including top effects man Tom Savini and 70's keyboard impresario Rick Wakeman - mix them all together and you get 'The Burning'.
'The Burning' is without a doubt one of the most underrated and impressive US teen slasher films ever to have been made. In this one film it sums up the whole genre tidily bearing every trademark of the genre proficiently and impressively, all tied up with a bow!
The film opens years back at Summer Camp where some teenagers accidentally set the camp janitors hut on fire and said poor janitor (Cropsy) is hideously deformed. After years of treatment (both physical and mental) in hospital the now deranged Cropsy is let loose on the world and he immediately seeks out to return to the Summer Camp (as they always do in these movies) and reek bloody revenge on any frolicking teenager that gets in his way!
Stylish, well directed (by Tony Maylam) and highly impressive - even with all its evident clichés throughout, 'The Burning' is a masterpiece in the slasher genre. The film contains many elements that genre fans should enjoy - there's the nerds larking about at Summer Camp thing (one of my personal movie pleasures), there's some excellent gore scenes by the effects guru Tom Savini, there's the black gloved killer element to the killings very much akin to old Italian thrillers which is backed up strongly by Rick Wakeman's lovely retro-Italian score.
The casting is of a high standard also, which is obvious as you'll notice several of the young cast members have moved onto greater things since. Most noticeably (and of great amusement to myself) is the fact that I hadn't realised that one of the leads is in fact George Constanza from the Seinfield TV show, the guy has barely changed at all and will have you double taking throughout the movies duration.
But I'm straying here (apologies), as I said - 'The Burning' is a gem of a movie and even though I had seen it countless times on video many years ago, watching it afresh on this DVD release brought back all the wonderment of just how brilliant this film truly is - this I can't reinforce enough!! But what about this DVD release? Does it do this seminal slasher justice? Well yes and no...
The film is thankfully presented here fully uncut and is a decent enough delivery with a solid enough presentation but is sadly not without its flaws. The image is strong throughout in the daytime scenes but there is some evident dropout in image quality in the darker nighttime scenes. In general it's all pretty acceptable but I do hanker for a pristine sharp image for this rather special film. The audio is fine also though nothing to sing about, all is clear and audible but again I dream of a Dolby remastering with 5.1 surround (Wakemans score truly deserves this) and hopefully one day someone will splash out some big bucks to remaster the film with the gold star delivery it honestly deserves. Meantime, Dragon's uncut DVD will be satisfyingly adequate for fans of this classic teen slasher. The disc comes with a spoiler laden trailer (do not watch this before you screen the main movie or you'll ruin your viewing fun), a cool moving stills gallery and detailed bio pages (as well as optional English and German audio tracks).
'The Burning' is your one stop reference point for the teen slasher genre. Forget all those soul-less new wave of US teen slasher flicks (Scream, Valentine, Last Summer et al), 'The Burning' puts them all to shame and stands proudly as the template for the genre. Essential viewing!
Review by Alan Simpson
|Released by Dragon Films|
|Directed by Tony Maylem|
|Region 0 PAL DVD|
|Running time: approx 91 mins|
|Optional English & German audio, Trailer, Bio pages & Stills Gallery.|