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Film / The Burning

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A brutal, horrific act made him kill, and kill, and kill...

Don't look, he'll see you.
Don't breathe, he'll hear you.
Don't move... you're dead!

The Burning is a Slasher Movie from the year 1981, conceived and produced by an early career (and very pre-scandal) Harvey Weinstein. It was directed by Tony Maylam. It featured special effects by Tom Savini and its music was composed by keyboardist Rick Wakeman (of David Bowie and Yes fame).

Five years after a group of kids set Camp Blackfoot's cruel caretaker, Cropsy, on fire (in a prank involving a skull with candles for eyes), he gets released from the hospital. After killing a prostitute, Cropsy heads back to the camp with a pair of garden shears and starts offing campers left and right.

A former Video Nasty due to some rather bloody death scenes (most notably the infamous raft sequence, which ended up being heavily censored in order to get an R-Rating), the film is mainly known for its lack of availability for many years; the VHS release quickly fell out of print, causing the film to gain cult status amongst horror fans who were lucky enough to see the film. After years of being in limbo due to rights issues, it finally saw an uncut DVD release in 2007.


This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • '80s Hair: As it takes place in the early 80's, this is pretty much a given.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The blades of Cropsy's shears are sharp enough to cut through one's skull with one swipe.
  • The Alcoholic: According to Todd, Cropsy drank two bottles of whiskey in a day when he was still the caretaker at Camp Blackfoot.
  • Between My Legs: When Cropsy confronts Sally, she is initially shown between his legs before he goes for the killing strike.
  • Big Bad: Cropsy, who is out kill some kids for the pain he had to endure.
  • The Bully: Glazer, but only to Alfred. Other campers are certainly not scared of poking fun at him.
  • Camera Abuse: The camera lens gets wet during the splash fight when the older kids embark on their canoe trip.
  • Cassandra Truth: Alfred mentions seeing something (who turns out to be Cropsy) by the window of the cabin he and the other guy share, but nobody believes him. Later on, Todd doesn't really believe him either when Alfred tell him he saw Glazer be killed, but Todd does have the sense to at least check it out.
  • Cat Scare: A bird flying out of an outhouse scares Todd who was checking why the light were on inside.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: The police is alerted to the murders in the woods, but their helicopter arrives only when Tood and Alfred have dealt with Cropsy by themselves.
  • Child Hater: The kids in the flashback pranked Cropsy for mistreating them. According to them, he has been beating kids and gotten away with it for years. Receiving third-degree burns all over his body only makes this trait worse.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Numerous references, including when Dave brings boys some porn magazines, and reminds Woodstock to "keep flexing the muscle".
  • Daylight Horror: The raft massacre and everything following it takes place in broad daylight.
  • Death by Sex: Sally and Glazer are killed shortly after they had sex. Karen and Eddy avert this trope when Karen refuses to have sex with Eddy, but both end up killed anyway.
  • Doomed Expedition: The canoe trip, where Todd and Michelle take the 15 oldest campers downriver to camp out. Not all of them make it back, and those who do are traumatized by the end of it.
  • Dramatic Thunder: When Cropsy kills the prostitute, thunder can be heard.
  • Event Title
  • Fate Worse than Death: Explaining Cropsy's condition to a new doctor, the nurse tells him that "It's a miracle he's still alive. Was me, I'd prefer to be dead. No way I'd want to be like this freak. He's a monster, man."
  • Fingore: Woodstock gets his fingers cut off by Cropsy during the raft massacre.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon: Cropsy whips out a makeshift flamethrower when he confronts Todd in his hideout.
  • Gainax Ending: A mild example compared to others. Did the events really happen or was it all just a campfire story? It's also possible that time has passed in the final scene, so it's also possible that it did happen and has become so legendary that the story is swapped around the fire by other camps.
  • Ghost Story: Around a campfire, Todd tells the story of Camp Blackfoot's caretaker Cropsy, and how he got burned. Eddy uses the moment to scare the canoe trippers that are listening by dressing up in a scary costume.
  • Girly Run: Demonstrated by Alfred as he runs from Cropsy, who just knocked out Todd.
  • Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen: Karen returns from her skinny dip to find her clothes stolen. She follows a path made from them right into Cropsy's arms, and he cuts her throat.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: Often accompanying the Murderer P.O.V.
  • High School Hustler: Dave, who manages to get his hands on stuff like adult magazines and condoms to bring back to the cabin he shares with the other older male campers.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Almost all the night scenes are done by using a slightly dark filter on scenes actually shot in daylight.
  • Hope Spot: The raft crew heading back to the Camp Stonewater spot one of their missing canoes drifting in the river, and make way to it. They find Cropsy hiding in it, and he kills them all.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The canoe trip that the older kids are taking goes to place called Devil's Creek.
  • Infant Immortality: Luckily for the younger campers, Cropsy only wants the older ones and the counselors.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Glazer, through the throat, against a tree.
  • Impromptu Tracheotomy:
    • Eddy gets his throat pierced with a garden shear blade.
    • Cropsy pierces Glazer's throat so hard with his shears that he is lifted from the ground.
  • Improvised Weapon: Cropsy uses a pair of scissors to stab the prostitute.
  • I've Never Seen Anything Like This Before: On Cropsy's burns, the nurse at the hospital explains to the new doctor that "I've been working here ten years, and I'm telling you, I ain't never seen anything like this."
  • Kill It with Fire: Cropsy is killed with his shears, an axe, and his flamethrower.
  • Leg Cling: After the raft is found and the remaining campers freak out, one of them is shown desperately clinging to another's leg.
  • Male Gaze: As the girls of Camp Stonewater play baseball, Eddy and Dave (as well as the camera) take a good look at the behind of Karen.
  • Man on Fire: Cropsy both at the start and at the end.
  • Mooning: Dave, Fish, and Woodstock moon at Glazer as he angrily yells at them for shooting him in the ass with an air pistol.
  • Murderer P.O.V.: We often see things from Cropsy's point of view.
  • Neck Lift: Glazer, via shears through the throat.
  • Not Quite Dead: After Cropsy is stabbed in the back with his own shears.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Cropsy, and a few of the campers (like "Fish").
  • Orderlies Are Creeps: One treats Cropsy like a sideshow attraction, trying to scare an intern by showing him off. He instead gets the shit scared out of him when Cropsy grabs his arm.
  • Peek-a-Boo Corpse: When what's left of the raft is discovered, and when Todd stumbles onto Karen's body in the mine.
  • The Peeping Tom: Alfred, who almost gets kicked out of camp for peeking on Sally in the shower, and later on spies on her and Glazer getting cozy and making out.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Dave, Woodstock and Fish spend most of the movie goofing around and cracking jokes.
  • The Reveal: Upon confronting Cropsy, flashbacks reveal that Todd was one of the campers responsible for the prank that disfigured him.
  • Revised Ending: A televised version of the film reveals it was all just a campfire story being told by Todd.
  • Rule of Pool: As other guys dive in the lake, Alfred isn't that excited to follow, as he cannot swim. Glazer then rushes to him and pushes him into the water. Moments later, after Woodstock shoots Glazer in the ass with his air pistol while he tries showing off to the girls, camper Rhoda does the same to Glazer while his back is turned.
  • Shear Menace: Cropsy enters the Camp Stonewater grounds with a pair of new gardening shears at hand.
  • Shot in the Ass: To get back at Glazer for pushing Alfred into the water, Dave has Woodstock shoot him in the ass with his air pistol to ruin Glazer's chance at impressing girls.
  • Shower Scene: Sally takes a shower early in the morning, and Alfred spies on her. He is soon found out, and her scream provides a false scare for the others.
  • Silent Antagonist: Cropsy never utters a word, he just screams when he is in pain.
  • Sinister Silhouettes: The raft massacre features Cropsy as a black silhouette agains the sky as he lays waste on his victims with his shears. The original poster and the DVD/VHS release feature it prominently on the forefront.
  • Skinny Dipping: In the middle of the night, Eddy convinces Karen to take a naked swim in the river. Cropsy spies on them, looking for an easy kill.
  • Slashed Throat: Karen's body is found with slit throat.
  • Speed Sex: When Glazer finally manages to convince Sally to have sex with him, the resulting tryst takes about thirty seconds before he is finished. Sally isn't all that impressed ("That's all?"), but she is willing to let him try again later. Too bad for them, since they are killed by Cropsy soon afterwards.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Alfred is a rare non-villainous example.
  • Summer Campy: While a summer camp is the initial setting most of the stalking and murdering takes place on a canoe trip that the older kids take part in.
  • Title In: There are five of them in the first fifteen minutes:
    • "Camp Blackfoot" for the scene of Cropsy's prank.
    • "St. Catherine's Hospital - one week later" for the aftermath of the prank.
    • "Five Years Later" for Cropsy's release from the hospital.
    • "Camp Stonewater" for the setting which introduces the main characters proper.
  • The Titling: Used for the title.
  • Wall Slump: Glazer slumps against the tree that Cropsy impales him on.
  • Your Mom: Given when the guys are looking for material to build a raft in the riverbed.
    Fish: Man, what the Hell are we supposed to be looking for anyway?
    Woodstock and Dave: Your mother.


Example of: