starring Brian Matthews, Leah Ayres, Brian Backer, Lou David
screenplay by Peter Lawrence and Bob Weinstein
directed by Tony Maylam
by Walter Chaw The pleasures of Tony Maylam's The Burning, such as they are, arise when one engages it in an extra-textual conversation about why at the end of the American '70s there suddenly bloomed an exploitation slasher subgenre to provide a nihilistic gateway into the Reagan '80s. Really, when you look at the wonderland of '80s blockbuster cinema, there is throughout an undercurrent of Friday the 13ths and Elm Street flicks, of course, but also stuff like Slumber Party Massacre, Prom Night, My Bloody Valentine, Maniac, Camps Cheerleader and Sleepaway, Mother's Day (which Roger Ebert referred to as a "geek" show--the kind that bit heads off chickens, not the kind that founded Apple)...all the lurid VHS covers that made browsing the neighbourhood rental joint such delicious taboo delight. It's that thrill that The Burning captures and evokes still--that feeling adolescent boys of a certain age got, pre-Internet, by renting something they shouldn't rent with the suspicion, nay, promise, it would provoke the same erotic tingle as hardcore porn would in a couple years' time. It's a movie very much like Tolkien's writing: if you don't discover it in junior high, you'll never appreciate it the way it was meant to be appreciated again.