The Burning (1981) Movie Review

Director: Tony Maylam

Writer: Peter Lawrence, Bob Weinstein (Screenplay)

Starring: Brian Matthews, Leah Ayres, Brian Backer, Larry Joshua, Jason Alexander, Ned Eisenberg

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.


Tagline – A legend of terror isn’t a campfire story anymore!

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Typical 80s Slasher

Story: The Burning starts after the prank going horribly wrong, leaving the victim horrendous burned, five years later he is released from hospital with the best work possible done for him. He heads back to the camp where the incident happened to stalk more victims.

With the campers including Todd (Matthews), Michelle (Ayres), Alfred (Backer) and Glazer (Joshua) going through the typical American camp experiences from the 80s, they start getting picked off by the deranged killer.

Thoughts on The Burning

Characters – Todd is the lead counsellor on the camp, he is trying to keep everyone in order even if he is known as a lighter touch whatever the kids do, he must think of a way to save the kids from the killer. Michelle is the other counsellor who goes on the canoe trip, she must take the survivors back to safety before being able to get help, she is also stricter than Todd on the campers. We do get the typical range of campers, the cocky jock, the girlfriends, the prankers, the slutty ones, the wholesome ones, we have the ABC of horror traits characters.

PerformancesThe performances through this film are not the strongest, the screaming and shouting is mostly over the top, while the lurking or searching scenes get the best out of the actors.

StoryThe story here follows a killer who sets out on his own form of revenge after being disfigured by a prank gone wrong at a local summer camp. This does follow everything we would know from an 80’s slasher, it does focus on the idea of sex, drugs or misbehaviour is dangerous and will get your killed, you know the typical warnings in the horror. We do have a large number of campers to follow, which does seem to give us too many characters to follow, while the instant revenge idea and lack of criminal punishment on the kids in the original incident is shocking.

HorrorThe horror side of this film is the best part, the suspenseful lurking of the killer, is clearly the most interesting side of the story.

SettingsThe film is set in the one camp location, we do go through the locations you would expect to see in 80s slasher.


Scene of the Movie – The lurking.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Why would the killer only go for a knockout blow on Todd, while killing the rest?

Final Thoughts This is a typical 80s slasher that does the basics right with the horror side being the best part, while other traits are overused.

Overall: Typical Slasher.

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