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|“||Right now he's out there. Watching. Waiting. So don't look; he'll see you. Don't breathe; he'll hear you. Don't move; you're dead!||„|
|~ A camp counselor telling the story about Cropsy.|
Cropsy is a serial killer and the main antagonist of The Burning. He was initially an alcoholic and implied pedophile, and the caretaker of a summer camp, Camp Blackfoot. After a prank set by a group of campers gone wrong, he was heavily burned alive and was sent to a hospital for recovery. Released from the hospital with severe deformities, he arms himself with garden shears and seeks revenge on the targets that were involved with the prank.
The character (along with the film itself) is based on the urban legend entitled Cropsey, a campfire story told at summer camps in and around New Jersey and upstate New York, and still in circulation.
At Camp Blackfoot, a group of campers play a prank on Cropsy; during the night they sneaked into his cabin and set a wormy skull with light candle sockets next to his bed. When awoken by the campers banging on his window, he accidentally knocks the skull onto his bed where it ignites his sheets and clothing. Now aflame, he knocks over a gas tank, resulting flames to spread all over his cabin.
They watch in shock as Cropsy, engulfed in flames, stumble out and fall down into a river, putting out the flames. Five years later, Cropsy is released from the hospital, wearing a heavy coat, sunglasses and hat to hide his deformities. Out of rage, he murders a female prostitute by strangling her and repeatedly stabbing her with a pair of scissors. He then sets out to another summer camp, Camp Stonewater.
Cropsy arrives, now armed with garden shears and nearly attacks a female camper, Tiger, who was searching for a baseball in the woods, but he hesitates to kill her. During one night, camper Alfred spots Cropsy outside of his window and soon disappears, but no one believes him. Later, the kids all go on a canoe trip up the river, in which Cropsy follows them. Cropsy then spies on campers Karren and Eddie, who are taking a skinny dip in a lake.
After Karren reconsiders having sex with Eddie, Cropsy scatters her clothing in the woods. After collecting most of her clothing, Cropsy grabs her and slashes her throat. Later, he releases the nearby canoes adrift into the lake, having everyone thinking Karren left and stolen the canoes. By the next morning, the camp realize the disappearance of Karren and discover the canoes missing, resulting the campers to create a makeshift raft in order to return back to the camp.
With the raft completed, five campers Eddy, Woodstock, Fish, Diane, and Barbara aboard the raft and leave back to camp. After paddling for a few miles, they discover the canoe, unbeknownst to them that Cropsy is hiding inside the canoe. When they begin to reach for the canoe, Cropsy jumps out and kill them all with his shears. When jumping out, Cropsy slashes Fish's collarbone, stabs Barbara's back and having her fall into the water, cuts three of Woodstock's fingers, stabs Eddy's throat, and finally slashes Diane's forehead.
As night falls, campers Glazer and Sally begin to have sex in a remote area of the woods, unbeknownst to them that Cropsy is watching them behind the bushes. Despite the moments of premature ejaculation, they decide to continue their intimacy. After Glazer leaves to get matches to start a campfire for their intimacy, Cropsy appears behind Sally and forces his shears into her chest. While she struggles against his shears, she is killed off-screen.
When Glazer returns, Alfred awaits behind a tree and watches him. Glazer uncovers Sally, before Cropsy thrusts his shears into his neck and pins him towards a tree. With Alfred witnessing Glazer's demise, he returns and wakes up counselor Todd about the events he witnessed. Todd initially does not believe until discovering the bodies. With Todd investigating Glazer's corpse, Cropsy appears and cuts his forehead, knocking him unconscious, and chases Alfred in the woods.
The campers see the raft in the lake with no one on board. Camp Counselor Michelle swims towards the raft and upon discovering it is full of dead bodies, including the corpse of Woodstock with one of his arms severed. With the campers now panicked, Todd tells Michelle to evacuate the remaining campers back to Camp Stonewater on the cleared raft and contact the police while he hunts for Cropsy with a felling axe.
Meanwhile, Cropsy captures Alfred by grabbing his throat beside a wall and brings him inside an abandoned mine shaft. Todd continues to follow and enters inside the mine, where Cropsy has pinned Alfred up to a wall with his shears into his arm. When Todd steps across a track, Cropsy pushes a mine cart down at him, causing Todd to knock aside and crash into a wall, where he discovers Karren's corpse.
Now armed with a modified blowtorch functioning as a flamethrower, Todd soon remembers that he was involved in the original prank. Turning off the blowtorch, Todd continues to search in the area. When finding Alfred, Cropsy appears, now revealing his disfigured appearance, and reactivates his blowtorch against Todd. Just as Todd is cornered from Cropsy's blowtorch, Alfred frees himself and stabs Cropsy with his own shears.
As Todd and Alfred leave the mine, Cropsy reappears and grabs Alfred, before Todd slams his axe into his face, killing him. Before leaving, Alfred uses his blowtorch and ignites Cropsy's clothing, deactivates the blowtorch and make their way out of the mine to Michelle, who brings them to the helicopter and to the hospital as Cropsy's corpse continues to burn.
After Cropsy's demise, many groups continue to tell the story of Cropsy around the campfire.
- Cropsy is played by Lou David.
- Tom Savini, who created the make-up for Cropsy, was not particularly happy with the completed appearance of Cropsy, as he was only given three days to work on it.
- Tom Savini's legs were used for Cropsy's legs in the beginning where he was kicking in the fire.
- The film's director Tony Maylam played Cropsy himself in scenes where Cropsy kills his victims (including the raft sequence), as many of the actors had trouble holding up the garden sheers to how Maylan envisioned it.
- For Glazer's murder scene, actor Larry Joshua pushed himself upward on two boards being carried by grips to make it appear that Cropsy raises him up with the shears.
- Director Tony Maylam said that there were more footage shot of Cropsy for the film, but he decided to cut back coverage on the killer to keep Cropsy more frightening on screen.
- For Cropsy's POV shots in the film, the cinematographer rubbed Vaseline on the outer edges of the camera lens.