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The Burning (1981) – Episode 166 – Decades of Horror 1980s

“Every year he kills. Right now he’s out there. Watching. Waiting. So don’t look; he’ll see you. Don’t breathe; he’ll hear you. Don’t move; you’re dead!” Well, heck. Seems like you’re pretty much screwed no matter what you do. Join your faithful Grue Crew – Bill Mulligan, Chad Hunt, Crystal Cleveland, and Jeff Mohr –  as they have an encounter with the legendary Cropsey and even more legendary Tom Savini in The Burning (1981).

Decades of Horror 1980s
Episode 166 – The Burning (1981)

A former summer camp caretaker, horribly burned from a prank gone wrong, lurks around an upstate New York summer camp bent on killing the teenagers responsible for his disfigurement.


The Burning is often thought of as a response to the success of Friday the 13th (1980), but there’s some argument that it was written before the first chapter in Jason’s saga. Either way, your 1980s Grue-Crew sees it as a somewhat paler imitation with some exceptions. Crystal likes the time spent on character development but wishes it was spread out a little rather than consuming the first half of The Burning. All the running through the woods was very unrealistic for Chad and led to the frequent use of the 10-second advance function. Bill was upset with the “rowing-the-raft-upstream-without-any-real-paddles” plot device, wondering what they were thinking. Jeff notices the editor is Jack Sholder, who later directed Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985). 

According to the Grue-Crew, the best reasons for watching The Burning are Tom Savini’s usual stellar work and the first movie roles for Holly Hunter, Fisher Stevens, and Jason Alexander. At this writing, The Burning is available on a Scream Factory Blu-Ray Disc. 

Every two weeks, Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror 1980s podcast will cover another horror film from the 1980s. The next episode will be dedicated to Ms .45 (1981), directed by Abel Ferrara and starring Zoë Lund (as Zoë Tamerlis).

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Jeff Mohr
Jeff lives smack dab in the middle of the cornfields of Iowa and is a long-time horror fan. His first remembered encounters with the genre were The Wizard of Oz, Tarzan gorilla chases, and watching the first broadcast of The Twilight Zone episode, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." While he now qualifies as an old fart, he strives to be an Old Boy. Paraphrasing Robert Bloch, he has the heart of a small boy. He keeps it in a jar on his desk. Jeff has written for and SQ Horror Magazine. He currently writes for Gruesome Magazine and is a co-host of the Decades of Horror podcasts - The Classic Era, 1970s, and 1980s - and the Gruesome Magazine Podcast.