As we mourn the loss of Stuart Gordon, our staff pays tribute to his diverse and influential body of work and his immeasurable contributions to the genre.
“I like shocking people, I like waking them up, making them see things in a new way and pay attention.“ – Stuart Gordon
Intro by The Angry Princess (Editor-in-Chief)
Since the beginning of his career, Stuart Gordon has been a risk taker, a visionary artist who was never afraid to shock and disrupt. He developed a love of drama at the University of Wisconsin. He started the Screw Theater, which made national news in 1968 when they performed a nude, psychedelic version of Peter Pan. He then went on to found the Organic Theater Company in Chicago, where he was artistic director for 15 years.
In 1985, he left Organic to direct Re-Animator, based on an H.P. Lovecraft horror story — a debut that announced a bold and original voice. Not only did it garner rave reviews, but it also gained him a following among gore hounds. He would then go on to adapt three more Lovecraft works for the big screen, as well as works by Edgar Allan Poe and Ray Bradbury.
But while Gordon may be best known for his gothic horror classics, his career highlights have included drama, camp, family-friendly comedy, and gritty thrillers.
Gordon’s influence on contemporary horror cannot be overstated. Not only has his creative genius influenced many of modern horror’s most acclaimed directors, but he was also a mentor to many and someone who was universally beloved, respected and admired.
Join us as we honor one of our most underrated Masters of Horror, celebrating some of our favorite Stuart Gordon masterpieces — from his first film, to his last, and all the highlights in between.
A tribute by Jamie Alvey
Re-Animator is one of those films that first came to me at a difficult point in my life. I was fresh out of my college undergrad program and experiencing those awkward young adult growing pains. On top of that, my grandmother had just broken her ankle, and I moved in with her in order to care for her. One night, I was sitting back in my room at her house and decided now was the time to finally watch Re-Animator as it was on Netflix, and I hadn’t gotten a chance to see it yet.
It was such a well-made bizarre bit of welcome escapism, a film that was purely fun and bolstered by some excellent performances. I was in love from first watch, so much so that I immediately sought out From Beyond and Castle Freak; I was taken with the creative trio of Stuart Gordon, Barbara Crampton, and Jeffrey Combs. About four years and a black cat named Herbert later, I am still smitten with the madness that is Re-Animator.
Re-Animator is one of those films that can only be categorized as a full-on experience.
Based on the tales of H.P. Lovecraft himself, Re-Animator follows errant medical student Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) as he goes on a journey to end death with his neon green glowing serum. West is an eccentric who finds himself ultimately studying at good ol’ Miskatonic University where fellow medical student Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) gets caught up in West’s machinations and budding rivalry with Professor Dr. Hill (David Gale).
Whatever can go wrong inevitably does, and eventually Megan Halsey (Barbara Crampton), daughter of the school’s dean and Dan’s girlfriend, is sucked into the whirlwind of sheer and unbridled lunacy.
The purely grotesque collides with the utterly fun in Re-Animator.
You can just feel Stuart Gordon’s fervor through the screen.
Even though what’s happening on screen is extremely madcap, the viewer doesn’t doubt Gordon for a second. There’s a true magic to a director who can make a film with such outlandish events with complete confidence and an even hand.
It’s a crowning achievement, and as viewers we are all truly blessed to have had a director like Gordon who was as daring out there creating purely insane and delightful media.
Re-Animator is one of those movies that reminds you why you love horror and why horror during the 80s was something truly special.
Not many people can make a piece of art that is so iconic and recognizable, but Gordon did just that. His very light and essence shines throughout the entire film. It’s a labor of love that has brought endless joy to audiences for years and will continue to do so.
This film will continue to be a gateway to horror for budding fans and a staple for hardcore fans as well. There’s a wide base of appeal when it comes to Re-Animator, and that’s part of its lovely, gross charm.
Thank you, Gordon. Thank you for everything.
FROM BEYOND (1986)
A tribute by Jamie Marino
From Beyond is delicious comfort food for me — comfort food like that steaming-hot pot of stew and dumplings that Bubba makes for supper. It’s a perverted, hyperactive, Lovecraftian delicacy. I want to dip a spork into the pliable flesh of Dr. Pretorious and have an indulgent, fleshy feast.
When I first rented From Beyond, I didn’t know what to expect from the follow-up to Stuart Gordon’s masterpiece, Re-Animator. It turned out to be a wildly different animal, and a colorful explosion of flesh putty and monster vomit. Gordon was one of those filmmakers who wasn’t afraid of showing monstrosities.
More than that, he wasn’t afraid of showing the meaty devourment of an entire human being by bees. Nor was he reluctant to show a supposedly-digested Crawford Tillinghast climb out of a creature’s mouth covered in guts and slime. And he just loved to show Barbara Crampton. In any way possible.
Out of the movies I’ve seen, this is Crampton’s best performance.
She is given so much diversity of emotion and desire to work with. Brilliant doctor, determined scientist, sexual predator, Resonator addict, victim, and eventually hero/survivor. And that nasty fucking broken leg she gets. I still can’t look at that.
There is a presence of bizarre, wet sexuality in the film, like David Cronenberg‘s Videodrome, but with a blacklight. Stuart Gordon has said in interviews that he believes erotica and horror have an unbreakable bond, and he explores it head-on in this movie.
The news of Gordon’s death broke my heart. Not because he wont be