People who know me, readers of this blog and followers on my Twitter will know that I love horror films and have a thing for the slasher subgenre in particular. Last week was pretty special for me, in that I finally got to see one film that I had been trying to see for years but had eluded me in one way or another (not enough money left at the end of the month to buy the DVD, lost the eBay auction, no friends have a copy etc)… The Burning.
In a time when digital is taking over and, probably for a few of you too, a trip to the cinema means spending far too much money, I was really lucky to catch the film in a way that I only thought would be a dream. In 35mm, in the dark and at one of my favourite places in the world. Thanks to London film club Cigarette Burns, we were treated to a brilliant screening at The Prince Charles Cinema with a terrific crowd and what was a beautiful original print.
Much to my delight, I absolutely loved it. Occasionally the build up to a film you’ve yet to see can be more enjoyable than the picture itself (especially when you’ve read about it in countless books, lusted after the iconic poster, seen pictures on blogs and in textbooks) and luckily for me I wasn’t let down. Yes, its pretty much a standard slasher with all the genre tropes and clichés included as you would expect, and yet it still managed to feel fresh and a little different to its peers. The pacing was far better than I thought it would be, putting some of its counterparts to shame, and the banter and relationships between characters (whilst at times creating some unintentionally hilarious moments) felt somewhat natural and, well, fun. The eventual reveal of killer Cropsy worked, despite the fact that he looked more like a melted candle than a burns victim, and the soundtrack was brilliant. A mix of different themes, at times it feels completely out-of-place and yet it still manages to be nothing short of awesome.
The main highlight for me, personally, however was the addition of Brian Backer in the cast. Playing the role of quiet loner Alfred, Backer quite literally steals the entire film thanks to his completely over-the-top performance which gets funnier and funnier as the film goes on. Want to know how to pull the best shocked and scared face? Watch this film, because Backer will teach you all you need to know. At times it’s almost as if he’s waiting for his jaw to fall off. And then there’s his running… His endless running… Featured in long scenes that do very little for the film, they could almost be edited down into one short film showcasing his tour of the forest. Accompanied by a synth style score that wouldn’t feel out-of-place in another type of 1980s horror or a giallo film, the countless scenes of Backer running, looking around various corners and dropping his best scared face are priceless! All in all, another fantastic night courtesy of one of London’s best film clubs.
Cigarette Burns next screening will be the 1988 remake of The Blob at the Phoenix Cinema on June 14th, details of which can be found on the CB website. You can also follow CB on Twitter and read the site blog here. The Prince Charles Cinema is located just off Leicester Square and runs a great programme of new releases, rep screenings and events. Check out whats on and buy tickets here!