Tuesday, October 13, 2009

HAMSTERIAN HALLOWEEN COUNTDOWN: A JOHN BARBER CLASSIC RETOLD


john barber's wife's husband,

i finally got around to THE BURNING this past weekend. you were right: this is, in the words of my good friend pepe guzman, "winner winner chicken breakfast"; however, i did not think it was, in your words, the best slasher film ever made.

i did like how this film somehow felt like more than a slasher flick. at times, it felt like a drama. here we are at camp being awkward, looking for love, not finding love, trying to grow up, not doing such a good job of it, getting picked on by the older greasey guy, etc. etc. half the film is dedicated to the heartaches and hijinks of summer camp. this i liked.

but, at the same time, i did not like how dragged out the film felt. there were long stretches of the film when all i could think was, "okay, come on, come on, get with it." had the film maker been able to build better tension during those long stretches of exposition i may have felt a bit different. but he didn't. he didn't even use all that screen time to build the characters or deepen our sense of hope and mercy towards them.

all in all, THE BURNING's primary glory was also it's downfall: the sucker was just too long. for an 80s summer camp flick, this was fun and cheeky, but it never really got anywhere or explored anything worthwhile. for a slasher flick, i waited too long for too little payoff. there were a few good kills, but not enough, i felt, to elevate it to cult classic status.

it was fun to recognize pieces of FRIDAY THE 13th and HALLOWEEN in THE BURNING. you could vividly see the filmmaker's influences. at the same time, the burning of the sadistic counselor, as well as some of the scenery, looked exactly like the original NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. i can't help but wonder if wes craven was uber-inspired by the THE BURNING's visuals, particularly at the end.

overall, this was a good one. i'd gladly see it again. admittedly, i watched this in two sittings, so i might feel differently if i viewed it in a single sitting. as for now, i give THE BURNING 3 pairs of inappropriately short running shorts out of 5. i'll gladly revise my review this in the future if the single sitting theory works.

- hamster

ps. say, in your review, you mentioned that THE BURNING was responsible for "a violation of a MAJOR horror movie cliche." what in the world are you talking about? i was even looking for it, but never found it.

2 comments:

John Barber said...

I'm trying to remember the violation.... it's been a while. Is it that there's no Final Girl? Doesn't a guy end up fighting him at the end?

And I'm a little disappointed that you didn't like it as much as me. I think that if they'd made some sequels, it would have been every bit as good as Ft13th.

the hamster said...

dude, you're right: there was no "final girl." two dudes fought casey in the end. one nailed him with a flame-thrower (thematic) and the other split his melon with a long-handled ax. (cheesy kill scene).

i actually meant to express in my review how much i appreciate the filmmaker's not creating a schlew of sequels. that fact alone, the singularity of the film, actually makes me want to watch it again.

we'll chat this again before the invasion.