1981 / d. Tony Maylam
In a subgenre dominated by lemons, there are few films that can adequately measure up to THE BURNING. Certainly the idea of a camping excursion gone horribly awry is nothing new to the slasher film – entire franchises have been built around it – but there is something skillful about the execution of THE BURNING that makes it so endearing and memorable. The plot can essentially be boiled down to good old-fashioned revenge: Cropsy, the camp caretaker, is the recipient of a horrible prank-gone-wrong. After becoming disfigured beyond recognition, he returns to extract his vengeance on the kids at Camp Blackfoot. Featuring a plethora of visceral treats from gore-maestro Tom Savini, the film offers up a delightful smorgasbord of garden-sheer mutilations, amputations, and stabulations (I might have invented one of those words); fingers fly, necks are sliced, and – true to its name – people are burned. Watch for appearances by Holly Hunter and a young Jason Alexander!
(As an aside: if you’re looking for more information on THE BURNING, I highly urge you to check out Justin Kerswell’s retrospective on his website: Hysteria Lives.)