The film is badly photographed and there is a complete lack of any style to make the gratuitous sex and violence and the entirely cliche-ridden teenage characterisations bearable. There are times that Tony Maylams direction looks downright amateurish. At other times the proceedings are laughable the reason someone goes into a dark room alone is to get their Vitamin E tablets, or the idea that a strong orderly would be unable to fend off a horribly burned, bedridden alcoholic. Friday the 13th makeup maestro Tom Savini contributes some very gory bloodletting effects, with scenes where one victim has his fingers severed by garden shears and another where five people are massacred in a liferaft being counted among the films highlights. The film is also celebrated for the score by Rick Wakeman, the former keyboardist with Yes, although in truth this is not particularly good.
The greatest novelty The Burning has is the number of later-famous faces present including Oscar-winner Holly Hunter, Fisher Stevens, and Jason Alexander of Seinfeld (1990-8) fame as the practical jokers of the group. Modern re-releases of the film have listed Holly Hunter as the star, even though she has only a minor role. Of course, brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein would later go onto found Miramax Films.
British-born director Tony Maylam went onto make a couple of other genre films the modernised The Sins of Dorian Gray (tv movie, 1983) and the futuristic monster movie Split Second (1992). His greatest success was probably the adventure film The Riddle of the Sands (1979).
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