Directed by Tony Maylam
And yet another of our genre’s hard to find classics has made its way to video stores as bootleggers around the country weep uncontrollably. Seriously, these guys are now fucked, no? Better start digging deeper into video obscurity, fellas. All the voids in the old horror DVD library are getting filled in a hurry. The film in which I speak of now is the 1981 Savini splatter classic, The Burning.
You all know the story as we’ve all seen it ad nauseam by now. Some screwed up teenage counselors decide to play a prank on their camp’s authority figure. Shit goes wrong. Someone disfigured comes back for revenge. More teens die. Blood flies. We cheer. Roll credits.
So what sets The Burning apart from the rest of the pack? For one thing you end up actually giving a shit about the characters. These aren’t annoying or stupid teens were talking about here. Instead we get a cast populated by good kids. Ones that we don’t necessarily want to see hacked apart. Oh who am I kidding? We want to see EVERYONE hacked apart, don’t we? Still, you get the gist of what I’m trying to say.
Another thing the elevates The Burning‘s game is the stellar effects work by the legendary grue-master Tom Savini. His flagrant use of the red stuff has caused this little flick some serious headaches with the MPAA, and even got it the Video Nasty label overseas. In retrospect, honestly, we’ve all seen a lot worse by now, but for its time The Burning was as extreme as possible.
Speaking of which, let me put your minds at ease right now. On the back of the box you will see that this film has been rated R. Not to worry. Despite what it says this is the uncut version of the film that was last seen making its rounds on late night cable. Every finger severing second is here in all its gory glory.
So what of the supplemental material? Surprisingly there’s a couple of choice cuts to be found here. YAY no bare bones release! First up is a eighteen minute look back at the making-of the film as told by Tom Savini. As a bonus, we even get to see some of Tom’s own home video footage of the effects and the shoot. And who is responsible for this little slice of goodness? Mike Felsher and his troupe at Red Shirt Pictures. There’s no denying it, Michael and the gang know how to make the kinds of supplemental material we really want. This is another fine job by the boy’s in … er … red!
Next up we have an insightful, yet a bit stuffy commentary by director Tony Maylam and international film journalist Alan Jones. While not the best commentary track out there, this does offer some pretty interesting looks at the inner workings of the film and of course the controversy surrounding the infamous raft scene. Not great but certainly not bad either.
In fact my only real complaint — Who the fuck came up with the horrid new box art? The old stuff was perfect! Did we really need some guy who looks like Crazy Ralph’s shear wielding cousin taking center stage? I mean really!
And that’s all she wrote, kids. No more extras for us. But you know what? Who cares? Here’s what really matters — any horror fan from casual to rabid can now simply walk into a store and either buy or rent The Burning. Being that this film was so hard to come by until now, I’m sure there’s an entirely new audience out there who are ready to dig on the sadistic tendencies of the man known only as Cropsey. Right on!
Get ready to rediscover a true slasher classic!
3 1/2 out of 5
3 1/2 out of 5
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