(1947-2020) US screenwriter and director whose first film, Re-Animator (1985), fully established the cheerfully gonzo transgressiveness of his treatment of horror in this and other Splatter Movies. The film is taken from H P Lovecraft's Herbert West – Reanimator (February-July 1922 Home Brew as "Grewsome Tales"; vt March 1942-November 1943 Weird Tales; 1977 chap), but the black-humour extremes to which violence is taken, as well as a clear linking of violence and deeply repressed Sex, very markedly distinguish Re-Animator from its source. The same may be said of Gordon's second feature, From Beyond (1986), also taken from a Lovecraft story, "From Beyond" (June 1934 The Fantasy Fan). Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989), from his original story, would have been Gordon's fourth film as director, but illness forced his retirement from that role.
Several further films are horror, including an Edgar Allan Poe adaptation, The Pit and the Pendulum (1991), and two further Lovecraft adaptations, Castle Freak (1995) and Dagon (2001). But three films were of direct sf interest. Robot Jox (1990), whose screenplay by Joe Haldeman was radically altered by Gordon from its remote origin in Homer's Iliad (circa 700 BCE), became a Near Future melodrama about the staging of gladiatorial combats between Mecha. Fortress (1992 but released 1993) is an exploitative Prison-break adventure set in a Dystopian Near-Future USA. Space Truckers (1996) is a spoofish Space Opera coloured by cinematic road-show echoes.
Along with his not entirely secure control of advancing film technologies, and a contrarian sense of how savagely he could guy deeply honoured Clichés in the kind of cinema he clearly loved while simultaneously Satirizing, the apparent insecurity of his health may help explain the relative obscurity of Gordon's later work. [JC]
see also: Theatre.
Stuart Alan Gordon
born Chicago, Illinois: 11 August 1947
died Los Angeles, California: 24 March 2020