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What do Jason Alexander from Seinfeld, Academy Award Winner, Holly Hunter, the "Rat" guy from Fast Times At Ridgemont High, the Hollywood Weinsteins, producers of everything from Air Bud to Pulp Fiction and Scary Movie 1 & 2, the one man Columbian Vacuum Tom Savini and noodler extraordiniaire from prog rock dinos YES, Rick Wakeman, all have in common? THE BURNING. No, not an inexplicable urge to urinate, but the 1981 rip-off (sort of) of Friday the 13th, which ripped off (sort of) Euro-masterpiece (if you like that crap) Mario Bava's Bloodbath.

That is right, we got George Costanza's first movie, The Piano player's first film role, the Yiddish primo-whiner Brian Backer from Fast Times first, written and produced under the Miramax name before it was Miramax, Tom Savini delivering the gore to the extent that it has been chopped to bits just to make it "R" rated and Rick Wakeman adding the early 80's Casio-tone soundtrack from Hell. Goddamn the 80s.

THE BURNING has a badly scarred PRO-taginost in Cropsy, a camp caretaker who a handful of bad apples set on fire to open this epic. Cropsy don't die though. Cropsy does get pissed though and goes on a camp re-vengence type thing that gives us reason to wince and grimace. Not so much out of fear but because you are forced to remember how bad the transition from the late 70s to the early 80s was. WOW, did any one EVER look in the damn mirror? What in the fuck were we thinking? Tube socks to the knee, feathered bangs and tight running shorts with white piping...I cannot believe I can actually reproduce after doing time in those Nut-tastic shortlings. But I do miss the easy access that a pair of terry cloth joggers might allow a horny teen feller whilst groping all hot & bothered in the room right next to some future Junior Miss' parents. Yowsa. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, THE BURNING. So anyhoo, Cropsy's back and Camp Stonewater's got him.

We are introduced to one unlikeable character after another except for main camp dude Todd, who seems like a nice guy, but we have our share of Meatballs-like dorks who run from tolerable (Alexander and Backer) to "I know that Jackass is going to get killed" (Larry Joshua as Glaser). The film drags and lags through most of the first and second acts. With weird unexplained camp shenanigans like Jason Alexander being a condom dealer of some sort and Brian Backer actually being a creepy Peeping Tom, no joke. But then things begin to heat up, THE BURNING, get it, heat up, damn I kill me, during a raft scene where a group fo kids build a makeshift raft out of logs, twigs, twine, chewing gum etc. to run away from Cropsy.

Well, it don't work and in a scene that gains this film what tiny bit of noterity it has has, we finally get a little retribution for our patience. First of all you aren't going to see much of this scene on most versions of thing floating around. It involves a rather gruesone finger-snipping, a scene considered by some to be one of the most controversial in slasherdom along with some other graphic hackings as Cropsy does the group in with his hedge clippers. Savini had passed on Friday the 13th 2 to make THE BURNING, no doubt because the blow was better and rumor has it he wanted his name removed because his effects where edited to the point of nothing and end up looking rather bad.

Really where the movie deviates is many of the campers survive, and the big Cropsy vs. camper scene involves a couple of males not the typical sympathetic female. Weird, was it a ploy to separate this film from Friday the 13th? The one-sheets definitely played on the popularity of Friday the 13th with the phrase "Today is NOT Friday the 13th." The lack of total carnage, the films foreign realease was actually CARNAGE, and the overall shoddy production value make this one almost forgetable, except because of the finger snipping it became of of the UK original Video Nastys (the video was released uncut completely on accident) and the array of folks who went on to big careers.

Jason Alexander was 21 years old when he made THE BURNING, so unbelievably he has a head full of hair and he also gets all of the decent dialogue during most of the boring camp scenes. He wears the same damn shirt in every scene and delivers his lines with the cocky aplomb one might expect from a guy who had just got kicked out of Boston University one year shy of graduation. Alexander in the 80s did everything from commercials for Good and Plenty and the McDLT, to starring with Liza Minnelli and Chita Rivera in "The Rink" a roller skating musical (?) on Broadway. Did I mention he wears the same shirt in every scene? Oh yeah and you see his hariy ass crack. You will see it again I am sure as Jason begins his soon to be cancelled ABC sitcom Bob Patterson, this fall.

Holly Hunter has one line...is actually 22 years old at the time of THE BURNING and is 6 years away yet from becoming one of Hollywood's elite with her portrayal as "Ed" in Raising Arizona. I hope you caught Holly's performance as super-fem and carpet-munching jock-dyke Billie Jean King in the made for TV movie When Billie Beat Bobby just a few month ago. Choice.

The poor Brian Backer went on the make the film that will be the time capsule entry for the 80s, Fast Times. His character in THE BURNING is basically the same as Ratner but, I'll give it away, he is our hero(ine). He battles it out rather Jewishly with Cropsy only to end up sometime in the late 80s slumming again in Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol. How is that for career moves. His performance really made me believe he was a kid from New York, just there for camp, what does that say? He was good? No, it can't mean that.

THE BURNING, if you can get your hands on the fully uncut version, get it just for historical reference, with the scenes in tact, there is a general sense of doom that the movie provides, there is redeeming value in sitting through a slasher that was trying to "be different" at a time that 'being different" meant parachute pants and TigerTM wrestling boots. Hey, its got Jason Alexander with hair on his head...and his ass too.

Acting, everyone, acting.

Ahhh Summer Camp, what with its bloody arm canoeing and S'mores.

Hey can someone throw us a script we are fuckin' actors over here.

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OOOOOOGA BOOOGA, Cropsy don't look so good.

Jason Alexander and Holly Hunter...acting.

Dude, these are the best rubbers money can buy!

Cropsy scares a couple jive turkeys in the burn unit.

First night outta of the hospital and guess who heads to Times Square, Cropsy needs to get a roasted nut.


Cropsy gets down to what it is and if it ain't funky...See ya!

Tom Savini everyone...cutting up Polski Kielbasa.

Note to self: I have got to trim my hedges.

New GiletteTM Mach 3. The closest shave possible.

Fashion Victim #4 screams in horror!

Teen boobs...you got to love them!

To hell with you Jerry Seinfeld....we don't need you, hahahahaha!
Brains On Film 2003