Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Burning, The (1981)

...aka: Carnage
...aka: Cropsy

Directed by:
Tony Maylam

One of several dozen direct copies of FRIDAY THE 13TH to emerge during the early 80s, The Burning celebrated its 20th anniversary with an uncut, uncensored version, restoring all of the grisly Tom Savini special effects (which had been removed from the original VHS and theatrical versions) to all their gory glory. The "plot" (don't expect anything even remotely resembling originality here, folks!) concerns a caretaker at a summer camp who is severely burned when a prank backfires. He's taken to a hospital where, after five years worth of faulty skin grafts, he's released, guts a hooker with a pair of scissors and then heads back to the same camp (now armed with a big pair of hedge clippers) to get his revenge. OK, I know you're yawning, but wait just a second. Aside from the cliched script, groan-worthy dialogue, grating characters and typically uneven acting, this has pretty good technical credits, a creepy Rick Wakeman (of the group Yes) electronic score, some genuine scares, a pretty suspenseful finale, trashy characters and the new version really ups the ante in violence. So the film pretty much delivers exactly what is expected of it. A highlight has five people on a raft getting slashed, impaled and chopped to pieces in less than a minute.

You can also have some fun spotting the future star. Is that George Costanza (Jason Alexander... with hair!) dealing in rubbers and porn mags? Or the geeky little dude from Fast Times at Ridgemont High as the voyeuristic Alfred? Fisher Stevens gets his fingers chopped off and The Piano star, Holly Hunter, gets some practice playing a mute in a nothing role. Jack Sholder (The Hidden) was the editor and it was one of the first efforts from producer Harvey Weinstein (who also co-wrote the story) before he co-founded Miramax.


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