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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

31 Days of Scream-O-Ween! - The Burning

By Adam Ruhl

Happy October Horror fanatics and Halloween junkies! It’s our favorite month of the year here at Pop Culture Beast and we’ve decided to celebrate with a whole pumpkin patch of Horror film reviews. Over the last year Shout Factory has established and expanded their Scream Factory line of Blu-ray Collector’s Edition Horror releases. We love them, we waited for years for HD copies of these titles and Scream Factory delivered with loads of extras. So, in honor of this fine series and in the spirit of Halloween I present to you Pop Culture Beast’s 31 Days of Scream-O-Ween! Each day in October we will be covering another of Scream Factory’s Blu-ray goodies, starting with a favorite of mine, 1981’s The Burning


The Burning 
The Film:
In the early 80’s, horror/slasher movies had a real passion for summer camps. They offered young people misbehaving aplenty and likewise being horribly butchered for those misdeeds. The Burning finds its butcher in the form of the popular east coast campfire story of Cropsey.
Cropsey here is introduced as a caretaker at a summer camp in the 1970’s. One night a group of teenage boys decide they’re going to prank Cropsey by placing a flaming skull in his bed. Cropsey wakes and in his fear knocks the skull over, immolating himself. Badly disfigured, Cropsey spends five years in a hospital before breaking out and returning to the camp to seek his revenge.
At the camp, a new group of young, lustful teenagers is enjoying the time of their lives. Cropsey sets about dispatching them with a large pair of garden shears and a violent creativity that would take Jason Vorhees several more years to master. Cropsey’s face, an earlier masterpiece of effects lord Tom Savini’s, is revolting in the best possible way. Savini apparently only had a matter of days to create the mask and its simplicity shows, but is still disgustingly effective.
Cropsey starts his attack slow but when the kids take a canoe trip up river for the night he kicks his shear-based slaughter into high gear. The garden shears make a deadly, albeit improbable and difficult to wield weapon (Director Tony Maylam takes credit for choosing them in the commentary).
In the same spirit of Kevin Bacon in the original Friday the 13th, The Burning features some fascinating early performances by famous actors. Jason Alexander (with hair) appears as a teenage camp-goer, and Helen Hunt makes an appearance with just a few lines in one of her early roles. The Burning also is of historical note for being one of the first Miramax movies with Harvey Weinstein producing and Bob Weinstein having a screenplay credit.

The Disc:
The transfer is perfect with nice crisp grain and colors that aren’t too rich. It strikes a picture balance that is very true to the 1980’s film stock it was shot on. There are almost no flaws or scratches on the print.
The bonus features include numerous cast interviews and a fascinating interview with Tom Savini. If you’re not into special features, at least watch the Savini interview (you’ll recognize him as the biker with the crotch revolver in From Dusk till Dawn), he goes into detail on all the effects, but also has a great sense of humor and ‘tells it like it is’ delivery. 
Many of the Scream Factory Collector’s Editions include reversible covers. The inside cover is the original poster art for the film, often made to look like the VHS box. The outside cover of The Burning is an original illustration by Nathan Thomas Milliner. It’s an amazing cover that I wish I had as a poster and Cropsey’s vomit-blood waterfall kind of makes me all kinds of sick.

The Features:
  • Audio Commentary with Director Tony Maylam and international film journalist Alan Jones
  • Audio Commentary with Stars Shelley Bruce and Bonnie Deroski
  • Blood ‘n’ Fire Memories – A look at the make-up effects with Tom Savini
  • Slash & Cut– Interview with Editor Jack Sholder
  • Cropsy Speaks– Interview with Actor Lou David 
  • Summer Camp Nightmare – Interview with Actress Leah Ayres
  • Behind the Scenes Footage
  • Make-up Effects Still Gallery
  • Poster & Still Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer

The Specs:
·         1080p Hi-Def widescreen 1.85:1
·         DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
·         English-only Audio & Subtitles
·         Original Release: 1981
·         Runtime: 91 minutes
·         Rated R


Final Grades:
Story: B / It’s not the most original, but it is one of the most fun summer camp slashers ever made.
Presentation quality: A / Beautifully clean.
Scare factor: B / The formula is too familiar now to be truly scary.
Gore Factor: A / Tom Savini’s effects serve up the gross real good.
Repeat view-ability: A / For me this is an October must see at least.
Special Features: B / A few good interviews and the commentary shed a lot of light on what was for me a pretty obscure project.
Add The Burning to your collection, click Here!


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