News reports are beginning to trickle in that Danny Steinmann, director of Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning has passed away at the age of 70.
While I never met Mr. Steinmann (nor have I seen his Linda Blair starring Savage Streets – though it comes recommended by several trusted sources), it’s impossible for me to say that I haven’t been affected by his work. I’m a huge Friday The 13th nut, which means that I’ve watched A New Beginning more times than I’d care to admit in polite company. Interestingly enough, I was driving to a screening earlier this evening with a friend and the conversation turned to the F13 franchise. After what was probably a few seconds of shorthand, there was a brief back and forth on the merits (and detriments) of parts V and VI. While my friend likes Part V a bit more than I do, it was fun just touching on that installment’s particularly sleazy energy. It’s by far the most cynical film in the original series, and it has a chaotic “anything goes” attitude that’s vastly entertaining.
On the ride home this evening, I got an email with a headline bearing the news that Steinmann had passed away. I’ve read “Crystal Lake Memories” many many times – so I was surprised that even though I easily recognized the name as being familiar, I had a hard time actually placing it (even though my friend got it instantly).
I know this anecdote may seem pointless, but I think it’s interesting that we were discussing Steinmann’s work on the day of his death. It makes me wonder how many thousands of times I’ve thought of his film, either in passing or in serious consideration. He may not be a “horror household name” like John Carpenter, Sean Cunningham or Wes Craven – and I certainly never envisioned myself writing his obituary – but now I can’t help but feel like we routinely take for granted seemingly minor works that are actually cornerstones around which our appreciation of the genre is based. A New Beginning may not have changed the world, but it certainly impacted my little corner of the universe. And for that, I salute Danny Steinmann.
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