Of all the holidays celebrated worldwide, no one day is more loved by the UTG staff than Halloween. With the arrival of October, the time has finally come to begin rolling out a plethora of features and special announcements we have prepared in celebration of our favorite day, including the one you’re about to read.
31 Days Of Halloween is a recurring daily feature that will run throughout the month of October. The hope and goal of this column is to supply every UTG reader with a daily horror movie recommendation that is guaranteed to amplify your Halloween festivities. We’ll be watching every film the day it’s featured, and we hope you’ll follow along at home. If you have a suggestion, contact us and we may include your favorite scarefest in an upcoming column!
Day 6: The Burning (1981)
Summer camp horror movies are certainly nothing new – since the release of Friday the13th in 1980, dozens of slasher flicks have been made that maximize on the creepiness of sleeping in the woods at night. It’s quite a shame, really, that the teenagers-at-camp subgenre has gained such a campy reputation (pun intended), as there are a few gems to be found that were simply overshadowed by the massive success of the Friday the 13th franchise. One such gem is the strikingly-similar 1980 cult classic, The Burning, written by Harvey Weinstein and featuring none other than the great Jason Alexander himself.
The Burning tells the story of Cropsy, a strange and sadistic former camp caretaker who returns to summer camp to seek his revenge after a prank-gone-wrong left him severely burned years before: One night, while Cropsy was asleep in his cabin in a drunken stupor, a bunch of boys from the camp decide to scare him by placing a human skull (complete with burning candles) next to his bed and then waking him up. Clearly caught off guard, Cropsy’s cabin soon is engulfed in flames after he swats the flaming skull onto his bed. While Cropsy ultimately survives the incident, he’s left badly burned and disfigured.
Naturally, as one would do when recovering from such a traumatic event, the creepy caretaker decides the best revenge is one served cold – to a bunch of teenagers who had absolutely nothing to do with it whatsoever. Combine a thirsty bloodlust with horny teenagers in overly-tight early-80’s clothing, and you’ve got a slasher camp flick that more than rivals that other one.
First of all, Cropsy is still alive – call me old fashioned, but a maniacal killer who is alive and kicking terrifies me far more than any ghost story could. While the original Friday the 13th had a living, breathing killer as well, things started to go wildly off course when Jason just kept…showing up; dead…but not. Cropsy, on the other hand, is pissed off and ready for some first-person revenge as he picks off campers with his trademark hedge clippers. I suppose that makes The Burningless of a slasher flick and more of a clipper flick?
By far, the highlight of “The Burning” is a young Jason Alexander showcasing the comedic acting skills that eventually landed him his signature “Seinfeld” role. Alexander’s random humor helps to move the film along, minimizing the potential cheesiness of it. The film also features “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” actor Brian Backer, whose mere presence in a horror movie ups the ante quite a bit. Culminating in a deliciously bloody canoe scene, “The Burning” is a much-recommended alternative this Halloween season to your usual slasher flick and is on Netflix right now…just waiting for you.
Editorial written by: Angie Frissore