Bloody Slasher On Streaming Is One Of The Most Underrated Horrors Of The ’80s

By Brian Myers | Published

Most horror fans remember the 1980 classic Friday the 13th as the film that created the summer camp killer trope within the genre. While the Sean Cunningham/Victor Miller project was certainly the first of its type to be in wide release, that same trope had been concocted two years before by disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein when he was beginning his career. Seeing the popularity of horror at the box office, Weinstein and his partner Michael Cohl drafted a treatment for a film later called The Burning, elements of which were based on an old urban legend Weinstein heard at summer camps in upstate New York.

Cropsy From The Urban Legend Comes To Life In The Burning

The Burning takes the story of a mutilated summer camp worker named Cropsy and transforms it into a full-length film where the aforementioned antagonist stalks and brutally murders his unsuspecting prey. The film opens with a prank pulled by young campers that goes horribly wrong, resulting in a camp caretaker being severely burned. Years later, caretaker Cropsy leaves the hospital and sets his sights on a nearby summer camp to exact revenge for his deformities.

The Burning Was In Production Before Friday The 13

One look at the film leaves most people with the impression that The Burning is nothing more than a lower-budget rip-off of Friday the 13th. The gory death scenes perpetrated by a lone camp stalker hell-bent on revenge could certainly be applied to describe either of the films. But even as The Burning was crafted before the initial run in the Vorhees line of slasher flicks, production delays and other issues caused it to not be released until a full year after a killer neatly took care of campers at Camp Crystal Lake.

Bad Timing Made The Burning A Box Office Flop

The Burning went to the box office and bombed, failing to make back even half of its $1.5 million production budget. The market had become so saturated with similar films at that point (Happy Birthday to Me, Friday the 13th Part II, and so many others) that it impacted the box office draw. But in the years that followed, a slow build of fans transformed the movie into a cult classic.

Rightfully so. The eerie setting of an isolated summer camp is spooky enough. Adding in a human monster that is seeking bloody revenge makes it all the more so. The kill scenes are also notable, as Cropsy uses large shears to take care of his victims instead of the butcher knife or ax that other film killers employ.

Responsible For Launching The Summer Camp Thriller Genre

When examined under the same scrutiny as other slasher films, The Burning gets bonus points for essentially starting the summer camp killer sub-genre. The low budget effects are every bit as good as other entries of that era, helping add to the macabre allure of the movie. Sub-par acting holds it back some, but most of us don’t watch these sorts of films expecting to see something worthy of a Shakespearian performance.

Where To Stream


With all things considered, The Burning is a solid three-star film.

Aside from being one of the earliest slasher films, The Burning gave audiences a first look at Jason Alexander in his film debut. With a full head of hair, we get to see Alexander a decade before he became famous for portraying George Costanza alongside a fictionalized version of comedian Jerry Seinfeld in the classic 1990s series Seinfeld. Co-starring with Alexander is a young Holly Hunter, years before her Academy Award-winning performance in The Piano.

You can stream The Burning on Amazon and Tubi.