The Burning (1981)

Sexism is rife in the film industry and practically powers the horror game, we know this. And I’m not talking about the big Madonna/Whore stereotypes that have practically become an industry in joke by now, but the sleazy, insidious sexism that is about as subtle as an overly familiar uncle at a party, and just as clued up on a woman’s rights both on a personal level, and in the workplace.

Now exploitation, sexploitation, tongue in cheek, winking to the camera, flesh parades are all well and good, but there is a fine line between giving a woman her power, and making her look like a vulnerable, exploited little girl for a power trip.

We’ve all seen it. The victim ‘forgetting’ to put on trousers or a top and running out into the night, making sure that the killer and the audience gets the best view of as much barely legal, nubile flesh as much as possible. The cameraman panning lingeringly over the tiny scraps of material that they consider a wardrobe for most of the females, usually zooming in like a peeping tom on the crotch and chest areas, an arrestable offence, if they weren’t under the pay of a film company, so that’s lucky for them, huh? Oh, and my personal favourite, the sexual assaults, predatory, rapey, parts of the horror films.
It can be as innocuous as an ass grab (the girl’s reaction to this must be a flattered giggle, or she is labelled as ‘frigid’ or a ‘prude’), the nice guy/boyfriend rape attempt (girl either gives in and enjoys it, which is an excellent message to females out there – if it doesn’t feel right, do it anyway, because it will be fine. Or girl fights off friend/boyfriend, and he apologises, she forgives him and everything is A OK! Lesson learned? No? Good!); to the stranger/predator rape attempt, which is the ONLY one you are allowed to react badly to, which is a good job, because now you can take out your pent up anger about the ass grabs and stab/decapitate, or round up a posse to give out some good old fashioned red neck justice. Phew.

My point is, if women were making films forcing men to wear little more spandex shorts (ew), where they were the objects of sexual attack from men and women, and the camera did little more than linger on their groin throughout, I’d imagine there would be some offended men out there pretty damn quick, because let’s face it kids; double standards, skewed systems and movie misogynism makes more money than morality and don’t we know it.

I’m not saying women are innocent in this whole acceptable skin flick angle either, mind. Magic Mike’s box offices figures and Fifty Shades of a Twilight Fan Fiction even being made are proving that …

The Burning is a major Friday the 13th rip off, but as I am not a fan of it’s source material, I found this Miramax homage pretty watchable, and that is no mean feat, believe me.

We are given the standard premise of a prank gone wrong, a man left horribly scarred (but apparently we are told it’s cool because he was a dick, yeah?), and out to seek revenge on teen campers for the fact he now resembles Jackie Stallone.

There are so many familiar faces in this in this film, its part of the reason, I found it so watchable. Seinfeld fans will notice a very young Jason Alexander, alongside Holly Hunter, and Short Circuit’s Fisher Steven’s (though thankfully without the racist fake Indian character accent), running around the woods together in shorts and making the most of Tom Savini’s always entertaining FX.

It’s not the horror classic that I’ve heard people rave about, it’s slow, sleazy, and sloppy, with so predictability that is verging on the prescription sleeping pill; but like I said, it is still marginally better than its predecessor.
As a victim of the ‘video nasty’ censorship era, there are a few different versions out there, and the cuts of some can be more brutal than some of the deaths in the actual film, so do your research before you watch to make sure that you getting the best bang for your buck.

I’m happy it exists, if only to see some very young actors, on the cusp of their big breaks, but honestly, that’s all it really offers. If you’ve seen Friday the 13th you’ve seen this, just imagine fire instead of water, and better camera work.

This entry was posted in 80's horror, critique, Eighties Horror, feminist horror, fiction, film and media, horror, murder, opinion, pop culture, psychotic killer, Serial Killers, Slasher, Uncategorized, women's lib horror and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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