The Burning (1981)

As a UK script consultant I like to watch all kinds of films and TV programmes in various genres. As a horror script writer for hire I’ve made it my duty to catch up with 1981’s The Burning.

The 80s ‘slasher’ formula gave birth to some classic films – the stylish Halloween is my favourite and works brilliantly without the use of any blood or gore effects. The Burning falls into a different camp, this film lives for the bloody effects and the joy of the splatter.

It was shot in the same location as Friday The 13th, and it shares more than the location with that film. The plot is similar and gore effects maestro Tom Savini worked on both films. However, The Burning is a far superior film to Friday The 13th and even stands up well today for fans of the slasher genre.

What’s really interesting about this film is the talent involved behind the camera. This film was an early effort by the Weinstein brothers Bob and Harvey who went onto be multiple Oscar winners as the executives behind Miramax. In front of the camera there’s a young Holly Hunter and Jason Alexander who is very good in the film (you’ll know him from Seinfeld).

The effects are great, but a little clumsy compared to some of Savini’s other work. I really liked Rick Wakeman’s sub Carpenter score also, which will remind modern viewers of some of the music styling in Stranger Things.

I believe at the time that The Burning may have been listed as a ‘video nasty’ in the UK back in the 1980s and banned as a result. This isn’t in any way offensive, it’s not a video nasty; it’s a video nice…

Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. He also works as a content writer for hire and as a UK script consultant. You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb. You can get in touch with Matthew on or hire him on Peopleperhour