The Burning (1981)

the burning poster 1981 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Good looking, slasher film

Story takes some stumbles

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Burning

Studio:  Miramax Films

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  May 8, 1981

MPAA Rating:  R


Hey, uh fellas…can you help me out? A little on fire here…guys?

A group of counselors decide to get revenge on a bully caretaker named Cropsy (Lou David) at the camp, but their plan goes horribly wrong.  Caught in a fiery explosion, Cropsy survives the ordeal but finds himself driven insane by the experience which scars him forever.  Camp is in session at Camp Stonewater and a group of counselors and older campers are out for fun.  When they set out for an overnight canoe trip, they become stranded in the woods and trapped by Cropsy…will anyone survive the burning?

Directed by Tony Maylam, The Burning was one of Miramax (and the Weinstein brothers) first films.  It followed the popular horror slasher style and received some controversy from the amount of violence in the film.  The story was allegedly based on a real campfire story told in the New York area where it was filmed.


Can I borrow some chapstick?

The movie came out around the same time as Friday the 13th Part 2 and had a very similar look.  While the Friday the 13th series got all the glory, this movie also provides sufficient jumps and gore.  There are some problems with pacing.  The series starts out strong with the attack on Cropsy and then his murder of a prostitute, but then there is a lot of counselor hijinks before a huge (and heavily censored) slaughter on a raft.  The ending is also a bit of a downer.  The movie has a sequence where one of the counselors goes off to rescue another camper and they both have a showdown with burned Cropsy which is rather uneventful.


Oh yeah…George Costanza…camper

The movie does have some great special effects done by the great effects master Tom Savini.  He had been offered Friday the 13th Part 2but turned it down for this movie.  The raft scene definitely is the special effects highlight of the film with a large group of counselors being attacked by Cropsy and quickly dispatching the garden shears.  It is worth the price of admission for horror buffs.It is also notable that The Burning launched the careers of a few prominent actors.  One of the main counselors is Jason Alexander (as Dave).  He actually gets a lot of screen time during “counselor hijinks” portion of the film.  Holly Hunter has a small role as Sophie and Fisher Stevens has a bigger role as Woodstock (one of the counselors doomed on the raft).

The Burning has gained a bit of a cult following since its release and it is worth it to horror and slasher fans to check out.  It is a shame that The Burning didn’t get a couple of sequels in a time rich with slasher and horror films because with a bit more balanced story and a few tweaks the Cropsy character, it could have been a franchise.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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