Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Shocktober Director of the Day: Steve Miner

Steve Miner isn't exactly a household name among Hollywood directors. But genre fans are certainly aware of his work, especially the films he made in the 80's.

Miner is the director who actually unleashed Jason Voorhees as the unstoppable killer in Friday the 13th Part 2 and Friday the 13th Part III (sometimes referred to as Friday the 13th 3D).

These days, Miner is known more for his work as a television director, having helmed episodes of "The Wonder Years;" "Chicago Hope;" "The Practice;" "Dawson's Creek;" "Felicity;""Smallville;" "Eureka" and most recently, "The Gates."

Miner began his career as a production assistant on Wes Craven's 1972 horror classic, Last House on the Left, working his way up through the ranks to Production Manager and Associate producer on Sean S. Cunningham's original Friday the 13th in 1980.

With a bigger budget and somewhat better cast, Miner's first feature as a director was even more successful than the original and allowed him to direct more and more. His second feature was 1982's 3D sequel (and the first time Jason donned his now iconic hockey mask):

Miner returned to the canvas chair with the 1986 horror comedy House, starring genre vet William Katt (Carrie; "The Greatest American Hero"), George Wendt ("Cheers"), Richard Moll ("Night Court") and 70's TV fixture Kay Lenz (the poor man's Susan Dey). Neither as funny nor scary as it should have been, House still holds a place among the among the pantheon of 80's physical FX horror movies:

That same year, Miner directed the deplorably racist comedy Soul Man, which is probably better left undiscussed. Then in 1989. Miner returned to features with the probably underrated Warlock, starring Julian Sands, Lori Singer, Richard E. Grant and cult fav, Mary Woronov. The story of a 17th century warlock who escapes execution by transporting himself to modern America, Warlock featured some wickedly funny lines and some impressive (for the time) special FX:

After almost 10 years of television, lame dramas and rom-coms, Miner returned to the genre with 1999's Halloween H2O: Twenty Years Later, starring Jamie Lee Curtis; Josh Harnett; Adam Arkin; LL Cool J; Janet Leigh and a very young Michelle Williams and Joseph Gordon Levitt. While better than most of the sequels to Halloween, it was still derided by critics and mostly ignored by fans.

H2O was then followed by one of Miner's best (and funniest) horrors, Lake Placid, in which current geriatric darling Betty White gets to utter the classic line: "If I had a dick, this where I'd tell you to suck it!" Bridgette Fonda, Bill Pullman, Oliver Platt and Mariska Hargitay co-star in this story about a giant crocodile terrorizing a New England lake.

Miner's most recent film was the direct-to-DVD Day of the Dead, not to be confused with or construed as a remake of the George Romero original. Silly and overwrought, Miner's entry into the zombie sub-genre leaves much to be desired and suggests he should stick to TV from now on:

While I can marginally recommend Friday the 13th Part 2; House and Lake Placid, Miner's films can ultimately be described as "workman-like," at best. While hardly a star among genre directors, his films are certainly worth mentioning as part of a genre retrospective, which is why he's included here.

More, anon.

1 comment:

Cinema Du Meep said...

Glad to see some focus on Mr. Miner. I enjoyed a lot of his pictures.