The Burning (1981)
Capitalizing on the newly popularised slasher genre, Harvey and Bob Weinstein and their Miramax Films released their first big-screen film with The Burning - a film much in the vein of Friday the 13th, albeit with a little more interest in its young victims and their life at an idyllic summer camp. The script as such is fairly conventional, allegedly based on a campfire story, dealing with a bullying odd-body of a camp caretaker who, after becoming the victim of a camp prank gone wrong, returns severely burned to seek seemingly random revenge on young camp kids. The identity and psychology of the murderer is underdeveloped, but the first-person camera makes you curious about his appearance, and although his antics is often shot and cut in a hurried and confined manner, the special effects by the legendary Tom Savini are at times chillingly realistic. Still, the best The Burning has to offer is a genuine interest in the campers and their situation. Its as if the film is feeling its way through the horrors unfolding, and in the process relieving us of the mechanical slaughterings which characterize many later entries in the genre. Instead, there is a sense of uncertainty and ambiguity which makes the film atmospheric and tense, if not intellectually suspenseful. Charming acting by future stars Jason Alexander (with a full head of hair) and Fisher Stevens contributes to an interesting watch.