Friday, July 24, 2015

wee burnie.


Regular blog reader Mr. DissolvedPaul of Smethwick emailed me regarding this classic and as to why I'd never reviewed it.

I must admit that I was surprised that I hadn't seeing as it's quite smashing.

Plus I also have a rather snazzy t-shirt for sale here.

I shall remedy this lack of write-up right now.

Then you can go buy a shirt.

 The Burning (1981).
Dir: Tony Maylam.
Cast:  Brian Matthews, Lou David, Leah Ayres, Brian Backer, Larry Joshua, Jason Alexander, Ned Eisenberg, Carrick Glenn, Carolyn Houlihan, Fisher Stevens, Shelley Bruce, Sarah Chodoff, Bonnie Deroski, Holly Hunter and
J.R. McKechnie.


 Don't worry. Tonight's the night that we scare the shit out of Cropsy. Because when he wakes up, when he see it, he's gonna have a heart attack.



It's a normal sunny day at the amusingly monikered Camp Blackfoot (named no doubt in honour of one of top 70's TV comedian Dick Emery's most popular characters); the jocks are baiting the nerds, the camp counsellors are busying themselves having the sex and the kids are getting ready for a jolly old sing-song and a Weiner roast round the fire.

Unfortunately the Weiner that ends up getting roasted belongs to the camps resident caretaker Terry "Cropsy" Cropston as during the night a group of mischievous bad boys sneak into his cabin and place a worm covered skull - wearing candles for eyes - next to his bed with the sole intention of getting the poor bloke to wet himself.

As is the way in '80's horror movies tho' everything goes tits up and Cropsy gets so frightened that he knocks the skull onto his bed setting his eggy bedsheets and - 100 % polyester - Farrah Fawcett nightshirt aflame.

Leaping from his bed the unfortunate fella accidentally knocks over a nearby gas cannister causing the whole cabin to be engulfed by a raging fireball and leaving Cropsy with no alternative but to stumble out of his by now charred abode - in glorious slo-mo obviously I mean that asbestos suit isn't going to pay for itself - and crash headlong into a river.


I don't know who was the more burned, Crospy wearing it or the guy that paid 250 quid for it on Ebay.




Jump forward five years and Cropsy - or Crispy as he should probably be now known - is released from hospital, decked out in a rather fetching flasher mac, big ass sunglasses and fedora to hide his melted visage the first thing he does, which is what anyone in his circumstances would do if I'm honest, is head out to murder a prostitute.

Albiet one that almost chocked at the sight (but not on) his well cooked spring roll looking penis.

So I suppose that that's OK then. 
No caption necessary.

Realising that he's found his true vocation in life our burned-up buddy decides to head off to the nearest summer camp (in this case the far less amusing Camp Stonewater) and armed with a nifty new pair of garden shears extract revenge on any teenagers that cross his path.

Hiding behind a convenient bush it's not long before he comes across the tomboyish Tiger (ex-Annie star Bruce) who is busy searching for a lost baseball in the undergrowth.

Luckily for Tiger her androgynous nature confuses Cropsy and unsure whether to stab or shag her (as if the two were mutually exclusive) hesitates long enough for her to escape.

Tunnel or funnel?

Back at the camp it's business as usual as we're introduced to the teen cast that will be our victims for the next 90 minutes starting with the showering sexy senior Sally (Girls Nite Out star Glenn) who gets to show off her ample arse as the pube-haired friendless geek Alfred (Backer, best known as A. Bartlett Congdon in Santa Barbara) tries to put the willies up her before running away.

Sally's screams - alongside the light glistening on her ample breasts - bring Michelle (St. Elsewhere's Ayres), Karen (former Miss Ohio, Houlihan), Todd (Matthews AKA David Laurent from Santa Barbara, the TV show where all ex-horror stars go to die) and Eddy (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit's Eisenberg) running to the rescue and slap bang into poor Alfred.

Todd, being a nice guy, feeling sorry for Alfred takes the lonely teen in hand (but not alas in the mouth) and has a brotherly chat with him regarding the rights and wrongs of spying on naked teens, even going so far as stopping Sally's boyfriend Paul Michael Glazer (jobbing thesp Joshua) from giving him a kicking.

If only someone had done this for me as a teen things would have turned out so much different.

And probably less messy.


They might look happy now but just wait till the stabbing starts.


Later that night, whilst attempting to get to sleep after a visit from the mysterious Mother Fist and her five alluring daughters, Alfred spots Cropsy crouching in the bushes outside his window, obviously enjoying a post show fag but with Alfred being a pervy loner freak and everything, no-one believes him.

Well would you?

A new day dawns and the kids are all excited by the prospect of a canoe trip 'up river', especially Karen who's decided that a boat ride is just the excuse she needs to finally have some of the sex with Eddy.

Cue 10 minutes of soft focus paddling and holiday report style shots of the sun shimmering on the water as a groovy Rick Wakeman score plays in the background.

Which is quite relaxing if I'm honest.

The director obviously realises tho' that all this well directed caring about the characters stuff is getting in the way of why we're all here so as soon as the merry band settle down for snacks, Karen and Eddy head to the rivers edge for a wee bout of skinny dipping.

Unfortunately - it's probably something to do with the temperature of the water - Karen changes her mind after seeing Eddy's wrinkly and somewhat shrivelled penis and quickly heads back to shore where she discovers that all of her clothes have been strewn about in the woods.

I say all of her clothes but I actually mean just the ones she was wearing, obviously whoever did it hadn't gone to her house, raided her wardrobe then driven/hitch-hiked back and just thrown them everywhere, that would be silly. 

But all this chat is immaterial frankly for as Karen bends down to retrieve her undies Cropsy appears from nowhere and slits her throat.

Paddle in mah pond!



Things go from bad to very annoying via slight inconvenience the next morning when Michelle discovers that not only is Karen missing but that the canoes have been cut adrift and have floated off up the lake.

Luckily Todd, being the handy sensible type organises the group into two parties; one group, including Eddy and Woodstock (Short Circuit star Stevens) who  alongside the bespectacled Marnie and the instantly forgettable Barbara will build a makeshift (tho' not Makepeace and no sign of Dempsey) raft and to go and retrieve the canoes whilst the others stay behind and gather wood.

For what reason is never explained tho' building a Wicker Man probably isn't it.

Alfred meanwhile decides to go exploring.

It's not too long before Eddy and co. spot one of the missing canoes and quickly paddle toward it only to have Cropsy jump out from under a dog blanket and kill them all to death with his shiny shears.

Which was a wee bit unexpected if I'm honest, I mean how lucky was it that they came across that canoe first?

What would have happened if they'd found the others and decided that that was enough?

Or just walked back to camp?

He could've ended up lying there all summer.

He'd probably still be there now.

Back at base camp Michelle is still worrying about Karen.

"Excuse me, I have my womans period".


As night approaches Glazer decides to make his move on Sally but in the ensuing excitement and at the first hint of nipple he cums in his shorts before storming off in a huff under the pretence of 'starting a fire'.

Been there, done that, still own the (eggy) t-shirt.

Whilst he's away concentrating  on a totally different kind of wood Cropsy steps out from behind a tree and sticks his shears into Sally instead.

Weighed down with kindling and all set for a second attempt Glazer returns to the scene and immediately makes amorous advances on his by now stone cold and uncomfortably stiff missis only to find - in a joke that would make Jeremy Beadle - proud that Cropsy is hiding underneath her corpse.

Fearing getting covered in juicy jock jism, Cropsy jumps up and pins Glazer to a tree.

And can you guess who was watching the whole sordid scene unfold from the bushes in the hope of seeing a hint of snatch?

Yup, it's Alfred.

Running back to camp he quickly rouses  Todd (but not in that way) and tells him what just happened.

Minus the bit where Glazer came in his pants obviously, I mean the guys a freak but he's not heartless.

Todd, upset at being woken from a particularly sexy dream thinks Alfred is lying and sternly tells his to fuck off but our geeky pal is so convincing that Todd eventually offers to go with him and take a look, thinking if nothing else he too might get a glimpse or two of fanny before the night's out.

The only gash that Todd gets to see tho' is the one in Glazer's throat and that's only for a second before Cropsy bonks him on the head and gives chase to Alfred in a scene of Benny Hill proportions as our crispy killer desperately attempts to catch Alfred and Todd (now armed with a handy axe) tries in vain to just catch up.


"Blood in mah mooth!"


Back at camp the rest of the teens are excited to see the raft heading back towards them.

So excited in fact that they mistake the pile of bodies scattered clumsily aboard it as their buddies sleeping.

So you can imagine Michelle's surprise as she approaches it only to discover that it is, in fact full of dead bodies.

And a few of them are still intact.

Amidst the panic and out of the trees appears Todd who, obviously bored with trying to save Alfred has decided to go save the cool kids instead.

Rounding everyone up he gets Michelle to head back to the camp and contact the authorities before realising that the film is nearly over and that, if he save Alfred, he'll be the hero.

Thinking this over for a few seconds he heads back into the woods.

Meanwhile, Cropsy is busying himself pinning Alfred to the wall with his shears in the hope of getting picked to decorate the Chelsea Flower Show entrance hall later in the year.

Coming across a deserted mine opening and noticing the faint odour of frightened virgin (which next to tears and petrol must be the sexiest smell imaginable) Todd sneaks in only to get hit by a rusty mine car which, as luck would have it sends him crashing thru' a convenient cardboard wall and straight into Cropsy's lair where the scene is set for a battle to the death.

"Boiled onions!"


Will Michelle contact the cops and rescue the campers?

Will Todd save Alfred?

Will Cropsy appear to die only to return for one last 'shocking' scene?

Will Rick Wakeman ever stage a musical version of the movie?




From the director of Genesis in concert (no, really), first time film producers Bob and Harvey Weinstein and starring the then unknown Jason Alexander and Fisher Stevens (plus a very young Holly Hunter), The Burning should, by rights be utter shite. 

It's a pleasant surprise then just how great a movie it actually is.

Leaving aside it's sturdy - if hardly original - premise, The Burning has a lot going for it; the direction, from the multi-talented (if a wee bit sport obsessed) Tony Maylam, is terrifyingly taunt and surprisingly classy and the cast (not just the ones who actually went on to have careers) are uniformly great, even those in the more throwaway roles give performances that put most of their contemporary slasher buddies to shame.

A special mention goes out to the frankly wonderful Shelley Bruce as Tiger who's pudding bowl haircut and boyish hips did more to confuse a generation of teenage boys than an entire army of Boy George's could.

Which is actually compliment so please no death threats.

Plus name another film that can boast of having an executive in charge of production with a name like Corky Burger working on it?


Cropsy had won the pools but suddenly realised that he'd burnt his coupon.


Add to the mix a stunning score by Britain's favourite Wizard Sir Rick of Wakeman and some startlingly gruesome effects from a top of his game Tom Savini and you know you have something special.

Unfortunately cinema goers at the time didn't realise it and stayed away in droves.

Unlike our crazy oriental cousins who managed to make it the biggest overseas hit of the year in Japan.

There's a lesson to be learned there but I'm fucked if I know what it is. 

 

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