legend of terror


Bonnie Deroski (played Marnie)

Bonnie 1Q1: How did you get the part in THE BURNING?

It was a regular audition that my agent sent me out on. It was unusual only in that the casting director was primarily known for casting background extras.

Q2: Do you remember exactly when you shot the movie?

It was August – early September 1980. Holly Hunter had literally just arrived in New York City the day we flew to the location. She showed up in cowboy boots and cutoff jean shorts.

We shot in upstate NY near Buffalo at several summer camps. I loved the location with the cliff. It was really beautiful there. That’s where the campfire scene was shot as well.

Q3: THE BURNING was different to a film such as FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980), where most of the cast were young adults. Many of the cast in THE BURNING (1981) were young enough to truly reflect the real make-up of a summer camp in the early 1980s. The baseball and canoeing scenes sure looked like fun to make. Do you have fond memories of the production?

My favorite memory was the canoeing scene. First of all they put three people rowing in a canoe. Probably was intentional, but with an odd number of rowers it was sure difficult to steer. Then one of the canoes took in water and actually sank and that take was actually used in the film. It was pretty funny.

I also remember shooting the scene where Woody’s dead body floats up onto Michelle. Halfway thru the day, Fisher Stevens walked onto location in full makeup, and then went out to the raft and played his own dead body. That was some pretty impressive prosthetics.

Bonnie 2Q4: Cropsy – the horribly scarred killer in the film – is seemingly inspired (in name at least) by the urban legend that has terrorised kids and campers for decades in New York State. Had you heard about the legend?

No, I had never heard of it, but since then, people have told me they had heard that story at sleepaway camp.

Q5: Tom Savini said that the cast were queuing up to ask how they were going to die! Were you disappointed that you didn’t get a grand death scene? Although you mentioned that you did actually contribute to the raft massacre scene. Can you tell me more?

Actually, I was quite excited that I was one of the few escapees. I considered myself ‘smarter than the average Cropsy!’ Also, I figured put me in a very good position if they did a sequel. Campers had so much fun at sleepaway camp last year, they came back for another death-defying summer.

Yeah, although my character didn’t die, I actually got to play a dead body at one point. They were getting ready to shoot the transition from the raft scene and one of the actresses who died on the raft had stepped off set for a minute. They were rushing to finish the shot, and asked for anyone to step in, as it was just a girl’s hand that they needed. So that was my hand in the shot with the blood dripping down.

Q6: Savini also alludes to the fact that the ending was changed after Tony Maylam and the Weinstein bothers reportedly fell out. Can you cast any light on this?

Nope. I knew nothing about this.

bonnie 3Q7: THE BURNING was surprisingly controversial on release. Suffering many cuts at the behest at the MPAA. Despite getting a cinema release in the UK it was accidentally released uncut on video and was banned as one of the infamous ‘video-nasties’. Were you aware of its enduring infamy?

Even before it was released there were rumors that the film had been given an X-rating in the US because of the violence. I know they cut a lot out of it to get it down to an R rating. The run was very, very short lived in the US, but I heard soon after that it had a big following in Japan and was running as the uncut version.

Q6: Have you seen the film recently? If so, how do you think it holds up?

I own the re-release DVD, with the Tom Savini interviews and comments by Tony Maylem. As for the film itself, it’s about what I would expect from a similarly budgeted film today.

Q7: Finally, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions! Is there anything else you can add about the film or your time working on it?

I think this film was a remarkable on-camera starting point for so many people. Because the director was British and the producers had never worked in film before, I think they took risks in casting inexperienced actors. But clearly someone had a very good eye for talent. This movie may not have ended up with a sequel, but it birthed Tony and Oscar Award winning talent.

I remember that Jason Alexander and Fisher Stevens put a lot of work into making the comedy work. The script as written was really not funny at all. They basically rewrote most of those scenes; the whole Abbott and Costello bit, etc. It was obvious that Jason was extremely talented.

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