Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Why does it burn when I slash?

19th January The Burning

I told you it was a Miramax film! In fact, their very first.  Just a bit different from their era of "Yo, middle classes: here's a book and some frocks, now give me a frigging Oscar", but still, it's all cool; New Line like to pretend they're not the House That Freddy Krueger Built, too.

One from my 'Somehow, I have never managed to actually watch this' list; I know, you'd think I would have, since it's a summer camp slasher film from the early 80s, with Tom Savini on the makeup duties; why am I not already there, at least since it's been available uncut for the last couple of years here in the UK?  Part of my 'thinking' behind this 500 films in 50 weeks project is to have a whole year of 'one day's; as in "I'll have to get around to watching that one day".

Well, for The Burning, that 'one day' is today;  witness the touching and doubtless Oscar-bait story of how grumpy drunk camp caretaker has his face accidentally burned off (don't mix naked flames and grain alcohol, kids!), is unsuccessfully rehabilitated, and (after a brief stopoff on the set of Maniac, apparently, in order to pick up a hooker, and butcher her when his melty-face look fails to turn her on) returns to the campsite to slaughter every mother's son in the place

How does it measure up against the campsite slasher subgenre's Ur-Text, Friday the 13th?, or the swaths of subsequent knockoffs?We have the Summer camp setting of course; an open and active one this time, that appears to cover ages 10 to mid-20s, or early-40s if you factor in the camp counsellors (even with hair, Jason Alexander does not look under 35). There is smoking of dope, and dipping of skinny, and pointing of view...or possibly viewing of point...? Anyway! killer's POV, with heavy breathing, and shears in shot. Effects are stellar, of course: SAVINI; need I add more? With a splendid burn makeup on the vexed caretaker-killer Cropsy (that makes Two-Face from The Dark Knight look like even more of the CG howler it truly is - how come his eyeball doesn't fall out?), and a jawdropping scene (restored for the first time in the UK) that de-builds a raft full of growing bodies 50 different ways in 5 minutes.

Unusually, the film is a lot more 'ethnic' than the homogenised norm for camper-slayers; though there are still fewer non-white faces than the front row at a Trace Adkins concert, at least everyone ISN'T a Gentile; including the Final Boy, who's more Leo Sayer than Jamie Lee, and sports an awesome Kotter 'fro that could deflect chainsaw blades on its own, and in a pinch can be used to hide small woodland creatures.

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