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 making great films anymore, but because such a brave and creative presence no longer wanders our physical plane. Re-Animator and From Beyond were staples when I was in middle school and high school, and they still are. I’ve triple-dipped Re-Animator, and had to rely on a bootleg DVD of the Vestron Video of From Beyond for years, until Scream Factory released it.
Gordon’s black humor is pitch-perfect, yet he still knows when the material needs to be taken seriously.
He looks like my neurologist, and my psychologist. I’m sure they will be very pleased to know that.
The performances Gordon gets out of Barbara Crampton and Jeffrey Combs are always brilliant, similar to children playing on a playground.
It’s as if he and his schoolmates had an idea for a school play — one to really gross out the teachers and parents — and they used all this gnarly slime and carnivorous flying fish. And some characters would have long, erect worms coming out of their heads. They would get the hottest girl in class to wear a nightgown, a sexy S&M costume, and cover her in pink slime.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention all the brain eating!
There are candy-colored joys FROM BEYOND that will stay with you for a very long time. It’s sick, naughty, nasty, and opens up strange doorways in your mind.
Beware, Stuart Gordon might be there waiting for you, excited to tell you about his new play from another dimension.
A tribute by Matthew Currie Holmes
The collaboration between producers Brian Yuzna, Charles Band and director Stuart Gordon has always fascinated me. Individually, they have each made some decent B-movies. I would even go so far as to consider a few of them classics. But it was in working together where they really shone. There was just something about each of their individual sensibilities in concert that elevated their B-Movies to near greatness.
While the H.P Lovecraft, S&M gore fest From Beyond is arguably their best effort as a trifecta, it’s always been the Hammer Horror meets Roger Corman horror/comedy Dolls that I would consistently come back to. There’s just something so… well… sweet and charming about Dolls.
It’s a kid’s movie for grown ups.
Dolls tells the simple story of a group of strangers who get stranded on the English countryside during a violent thunderstorm and must take shelter in an old mansion in the middle of nowhere. It is there they meet the mansion’s kindly owners: an elderly doll maker and his wife. The strangers decide it’s best to spend the night, and let the storm pass.
As the night goes on, we get to know each of the strangers… all of them except 8 year-old Judy and good natured, child-at-heart Ralph are assholes. And one by one, they meet a gory demise at the tiny porcelain hands of the many, many, MANY dolls that inhabit the mansion.
Dolls is essentially a folktale or scary story told by a camp counselor around a campfire to a bunch of frightened kids. It clocks in at a svelte 77 mins and wastes no time getting to the fun. In fact the whole movie is… just fun. It never takes itself seriously. It has a giant beating heart. And while the murders are brutal, it’s never unpleasant to watch.
I credit the individual sensibilities of the film’s core team to the success of Dolls.
Brain Yuzna’s flair for outrageous body horror, Charles Band’s almost urgent sense of economy (I did mention the film clocks in at 77mins… that’s WITH CREDITS), and of course Stuart Gordon’s steady hand at the helm — careful to appreciate the silliness of what’s happening, all the while never lazily taking the film into self-parody territory.
But if I had to give a single prize, it would go to Stuart Gordon; he deserves the credit for making Dolls as likable as it is.
I feel if the director had been Charles Band, he would have likely foregone the characters in favor of the exploitation of the concept (Puppet Master anyone?). Or if were helmed by Brian Yuzna, he would have likely leaned into all out goofiness and gore.
It’s Gordon who lets us a care a little bit the characters by giving the good guys a soul and merit.
Like all good folktales and campfire yarns, the success of Dolls is predicated on the likability of the protagonist or, more succinctly, the protagonists willingness to adhere to the rules.
In this case, it’s simple: Be of good nature and childlike wonder, and you will survive the night. Be an asshole, and, well… it’s simple: You’ll be brutally murdered by dolls.
I think that may be some sound advice for us all.
HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS (1989)
A tribute by Jason McFiggins
It had been raining for a couple days during the Summer of 1989, not ideal for a family camping vacation. Unable to go for a hike or to the beach and having gone to the mall the day before, my parents decided to take us kids to the movies to see a Disney family film called Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Even at age eight, I remember seeing the commercials on TV of a kid treading milk in a giant spoonful of Cheerios heading towards a large, open mouth yelling, “No dad, don’t eat me!”
After watching the movie, and with the weather turning sunny the following day, I spent the next week playing in the woods pretending I was shrunk, stuck in my own small adventure like the one I saw at the movies while chasing butter-drenched popcorn with sugary soda.
I loved Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, watching it over and over again as kid on VHS.
Every time I watched it, I felt the fun and thrills of venturing through grass as thick and tall as the jungle and fighting off giant killer beasts like carpenter ants and scorpions. What a brilliant idea for a backyard adventure in suburbia, an adventure that any kid can relate to.
As an adult, I’ve come to simply adore it. Alongside Back to the Future, I consider Honey, I Shrunk the Kids to be a perfect movie.
This unique family-friendly adventure came from the mind of Stuart Gordon, an idea that he and producing partner Brian Yuzna brought to Disney in the mid 1980s under its original title Teenie Weenies. They hired Ed Naha (Dolls) to write a script. And after a dozen drafts, a title change, and Stuart Gordon set to direct, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids was going into production.
It’s at this time that Gordon was diagnosed with Hypertension, forcing him to leave the project and be replaced by Joe Johnston.
The film is an endlessly fun family/adventure/comedy — and perfect as it is.
But I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like under Gordon’s direction.
Would it have had more gross-out set pieces? Hell, would Gordon favorite (everyone’s favorite) Barbara Crampton have played Diane Szalinski? Jeffrey Combs as Wayne Szalinski? (Rick Moranis and Marcia Strassman are wonderful.)
In all honestly, with Disney and Jeffrey Katzenberg steering production, the film most likely wouldn’t have been much different, but damn it’s fun to wonder.
Thank you for Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Mr. Gordon. And thank you for all the memories it created for me and a million other kids, and the imaginations it unlocked.
THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM (1991)
A tribute by The Angry Princess
Only loosely based on Edgar Allen Poe’s classic short story, The Pit and the Pendulum is a fever dream of a movie. Shot on location in a spooky Italian castle, the film is gloriously theatrical, and even comedic in spite of its dark subject matter.
Set in 1692 Spain at the height of the Inquisition and inspired in part by real life historical horrors, The Pit and the Pendulum tells the story of a mad priest, Grand Inquistor Torquemada (the brilliant Lance Henriksen). He leads a bloody reign of terror — devising exquisitely painful ways of getting his victims to confess to witchcraft.
While out trying to sell their homemade bread to make ends meet, Maria (the stunning Rona De Ricci) and her husband Antonio (Jonathan Fuller) are caught in a large crowd of people who have turned out for that day’s public execution, a cruelty Maria cannot withstand. However, they are forced to stay and watch while an innocent woman is brutally murdered, and her young son is savagely beaten in front of her.
Maria eventually cries out and pleads for mercy. Torquemada witnesses this, and he orders Maria to be arrested as a result of the sexual feelings she stirs in him; he accuses her of witchcraft because he believes she has ‘bewitched’ him.
The film is a scathing indictment of religious hypocrisy and the patriarchal fear and suppression of feminine sexuality.
It’s a bleak adaptation of Poe, drenched in gorgeous gothic period detail. And while it’s uncharacteristically tame with regards to blood and gore, there’s plenty of brutal torture and nastiness to make up for it.
The script by Dennis Paoli adds an interesting dimension to the persecution of innocent women as witches, suggesting that these women were real practitioners of the craft. However, they didn’t practice black magic or worship the devil as accused. Rather, they were deeply spiritual ‘healers’ and practitioners of Earth magic.
When Maria is thrown in the dungeon, she is befriended by fellow prisoner Esmerelda (the incredible Frances Bay). Esmerelda is indeed a true witch and begins to help Maria harness her own inner power. Ironically, while Maria does not start out as a witch, the kind-hearted and devout Catholic is turned into one by the horrific ordeal she is put through by her accusers.
Bay’s Esmerelda is given some of the best lines in the entire film, as she laments the ignorance and cruelty of her captors.
“I’m a witch, but I don’t ride a broomstick through the air or kiss the Devil’s cock. I am a midwife, I grow herbs and try to heal the sick the best I can. And for this they want to burn me. [If they want to convict you] They’ll gladly take some spiteful farmer’s word for it that you’ve got ten tits and a cunt full of teeth.”
While the whole film is quite engaging, thanks in large part by a spectacularly unhinged performance by Lance Henriksen, Gordon really knocks it out of the park with both the shocking opening — with its dramatic and chill-inducing score — and the final 15 minutes of utter mayhem.
The film ends on a hopeful note, with karmic retribution and good triumphing over evil — but not before our heroes, and several other innocent souls, are put through hell on Earth in the name of religious piety.
Gordon may be inextricably linked to Lovecraft, and for good reason, but his flirtation with Poe definitely deserves more attention.
A tribute by Jeremy Herbert
The advertising for Fortress leaned hard on a single pull quote: “More powerful than Total Recall!” To almost any genre fan, them’s fighting words. In the case of Stuart Gordon’s splattery space prison epic, it’s also a bit of poetic justice. Gordon only directed it at no less than Arnold Schwarzenegger’s personal request.
The Total Recall star’s long-time bodyguard Peter Kent played the buff zombie in Re-Animator. Arnold was, delightfully, a huge fan. Though Schwarzenegger eventually dropped out for Last Action Hero, Gordon soldiered on with a significantly smaller budget and turned out a veritable sci-fi smorgasbord.
The Highlander himself, Christopher Lambert, leads the charge, running around with an unwieldy arm cannon while Kurtwood Smith tries to best his own ‘80s bad guy world record by playing the film’s sadistic prison warden in the brutalist future of concrete and blue chrome. Jeffrey Combs is present and accounted for, here doing his best Dustin Hoffman from Papillon but with the added anxiety of a man with a bomb in his belly.
There are cyborgs. Maybe even a little social commentary, if that’s your kind of bag, since the whole reason Lambert’s hero goes to mega-jail is for having a second child in the United States.
If that reads like an outline of reasons to recommend this movie rather than an eloquently prepared case, that’s just the beauty of Fortress.
It may not reach the heights of contemporary sloppy-joe sci-fi like RoboCop or Total Recall, but when Blockbuster was out of those, this would more than satisfy.
Stuart Gordon knew what he was making. He never took horror for granted, and he doesn’t sell science fiction short, either.
Is it more powerful than Total Recall? I don’t know how to measure that. But given it was made on a quarter the budget, still belongs on the same shelf, and seeing as it almost starred Schwarzenegger, out of sheer love for Stuart Gordon, I’d call it close enough.
CASTLE FREAK (1983)
A tribute by Jackie Ruth
Castle Freak is a 1995 film that Stuart Gordon not only directed, but also co-wrote with Dennis Paoli, based on a couple of stories by H.P. Lovecraft. Any fan of Gordon’s work will know that he adapted plenty of Lovecraft stories, though I believe this one feels less inherently Lovecraftian than others (though no less weird).
The movie follows the Reilly family: parents John (Jeffrey Combs) and Susan (Barbara Crampton) and their daughter Rebecca (Jessica Dollarhide). They’ve inherited an old castle in Italy, where they go for a visit — and to check out the property they plan to liquidate. Of course, it wouldn’t be a good horror/mystery if there weren’t something (or someone) hidden in the castle.
As it turns out, there’s a dungeon housing the titular character (also known as Giorgio, played by Jonathan Fuller), and he’s definitely not harmless.
Though this movie is primarily a mystery and horror film, there’s plenty of drama to be had.
It’s explained that John and Rebecca were in a bad car accident that led to Rebecca losing her eyesight; Susan still blames her husband for it.
There’s also the underlying tragedy that led to Giorgio becoming who — or what — he is by the time the Reilly family arrives. Yes, he’s dangerous, and the Reillys are the film’s protagonists, but you can’t help but feel for him (at least a little bit) because of the way he’s been treated.
It is, of course, always great to see Combs and Crampton working together in a Gordon project, and it’s almost impossible for fans (or at least this fan) to not automatically associate the three with each other, even when seeing their works that have nothing to do with each other.
While this film lands behind Re-Animator and From Beyond on my list of personal favorites from Gordon, that isn’t a knock against it.
It’s fun to see him work on something with an almost dark fairytale bent to it, and it is a truly weird movie with a pretty intense climax that fits perfectly into his filmography.
BODY SNATCHERS (1993)
A tribute by Jerry Smith
Though the name Stuart Gordon is most often mentioned when speaking of films like Re-Animator or From Beyond, the legendary filmmaker had his share of projects that for one reason or another, ended up in different directors’ hands. While 1993’s Body Snatchers (the third adaptation of Jack Finney’s 1955 novel “The Body Snatchers”), may have been a film Gordon moved on from, it still has his mark firmly implanted on it.
Gordon co-wrote the initial script with longtime collaborator Dennis Paoli (following a script polish for God Told Me To! director Larry Cohen). He eventually exited the project, with Ms. 45 director Abel Ferrara taking over directing duties and regular Ferrara collaborator Nicholas St. John doing another pass at the screenplay.
One can only imagine what the film would have been had Gordon’s unique take on one of the most beloved stories around been brought to the table.
Taking the first two adaptions of the novel and then going for more of a military-heavy approach, Body Snatchers sees a family in danger, when an alien life form begins to use human bodies to infiltrate species, in order to assimilate the entire world.
Gone are the 50’s communism metaphors. Instead, we get a focus on using various entities in a weaponized matter. That might sound like a hefty dose of snore-heavy storytelling. But what Gordon, Paoli, Cohen and then St. John were able to do was give viewers a screenplay that offered some of the most truly frightening moments in horror.
Following Gabrielle Anwar’s character, the film opts for fear and fright, with a less is more approach.
When we DO see the pods taking over the bodies, the imagery gets under your skin in ways that one might find incredibly difficult to shake. One sequence in particular involves Anwar taking a bath and having some long, stringy alien matter begin to wrap around her face. It’s a scene that feels like a cross between A Nightmare on Elm Street’s classic bath scene and the scene in Alien where Ian Holm’s robot spews white fluid everywhere.
It’s a visceral shock, and that’s what Body Snatchers has going for it: it’s shocking, eerie and quite often downright scary.
While it would have been a blast to see Gordon give horror fans his spin on the classic novel, his mark on one of the most interesting remakes around is a lasting one. I for one am happy we ended up seeing at least some of it on the big screen.
A tribute by Thomas McKean
Dagon is a Spanish-American co-production written by Dennis Paoli and directed by the late, great Stuart Gordon. It’s a film adaptation to one of H.P. Lovecraft’s better known stories, “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”, with some minor changes.
The story of Dagon centers around Paul Marsh (Ezra Godden), who’s vacation in Spain lands them shipwrecked off the coast of a fishing village named Imboca. Paul, much in the same fashion as the original tale, is chased through the streets of Imboca by its strange inhabitants, and must escape the town before fate decides to rear its ugly head.
One cannot really begin to fully appreciate Dagon without knowing a little bit about Stuart Gordon.
A long time fan of Lovecraft’s work, Gordon was a controversial addition to the community when he first hit the scene. Fans of cosmic horror back in the 80s were fewer in number than today, and some felt Gordon’s debut film, Re-Animator (1985), was too loose an adaption and tonally inconsistent with the source material.
However, many were impressed by Gordon’s approach — a sort of Raimi meets Lovecraft. It should be noted, though, that Gordon’s Re-Animator came out two years before Evil Dead 2 (1987), the quintessential horror comedy. This, to me, is only further proof of Gordon’s underrated genius.
Gordon was never particularly interested in doing a full adaptation of any of Lovecraft’s work. The closest in his filmography, Dreams in the Witch House (2005), is still a wacky, psycho-sexual romp. Gordon, instead of emphasizing cosmic horror’s depressing underlying message of humanity’s insignificance, focuses on just how weird horror is!
And, boy, is Dagon weird.
To start, Dagon’s plot is just unsettlingly strange. The original story, mind you, isn’t necessarily grounded either. It’s weird and unnervingly sexual on its own. All Gordon did was dial what can be considered a five on the Lovecraft scale to about a seven or eight.
Dagon features tense moments as well as comedic moments, and includes: incest and skinning, a tentacle monster giving Paul a swirly, a drunk old man singing to fish monsters, a naked woman being carved with symbols, and so much more.
Cinematographer Carlos Suárez does a wonderful job at setting the strange, almost fantasy tone of Gordon’s film.
The two major shooting locations of Dagon were the beautiful, seaside town of Combarro and the Catalonian city of Castellbisbal. Gorgeous old buildings, cobblestone roads, rainy docks; it’s the perfect setting for a piece like this. Seeing such beautiful architecture and real, tangible locations, as opposed to built sets, truly elevates Dagon to greater heights.
The performances are what you’d expect from Gordon’s consistent level of camp.
Strange faces, over acting, weird deliveries — Dagon has it all!
From Jeffrey Combs fighting a fake cat in a basement, to a wise-cracking rat with a human face exploding out of a guys stomach, Gordon knew how to get the best performances from his actors.
The standout performance, however, is from late Spanish character actor, Francisco Rabal, best known for winning Best Actor at Cannes for his performance in The Holy Innocents (1984).
In Dagon, Rabal plays the role of Ezequiel, a drunkard living in a town of human-fish hybrids. Here, he brings his expertise to the slightly unconventional role of a drunkard living in a town of human-fish hybrids. The performance he gives recounting the fishy history of his small town is excellent. His voiceover during this flashback recounting was, perhaps, some of the most engaging acting in the entire film.
I was hurt when I heard we lost Stuart Gordon.
Gordon was an inspiration to many, including director Richard Stanley (The Color Out of Space), who’s featured in the film as one of the many fish monsters.
DAGON is currently available on Tubi for free. In honor of Gordon’s legacy, in honor of his respect for Lovecraft and cosmic horror in general, and in honor of what Gordon represents to independent horror filmmakers everywhere, I implore you to watch not only DAGON but the rest of his filmography.
Rest easy, Stuart. And, remember: That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die…
A tribute by The Angry Princess
Stuart Gordon’s last film was a different kind of horror, one inspired by real life atrocities and man’s inhumanity to man. His ‘ripped from headlines’ thriller Stuck is based on a notorious incident in Texas in 2001.
After a night of hard partying, nursing home employee Brandi (Mena Suvari) gets behind the wheel of her car and drives home, heavily impaired. While distracted by her phone, she doesn’t see the recently down-on-his-luck Tom Bardo (Stephen Rea) crossing the street. She hits him, tossing him onto the hood and sending him crashing through the windshield, where he remains stuck and near death.
Brandi panics, drives home and locks the car in her garage, leaving Tom lodged in the windshield while she decides what to do.
What follows is a taut thriller and an unflinching portrayal of pain and suffering.
John Strysik’s screenplay, based on a story by Gordon, explores the darker side of human nature and what happens when ordinary, otherwise decent human beings, are put in disorienting and life-altering situations. It’s about what happens when fear turns us into monsters.
Made 13 years after Re-Animator, a film that remains his most beloved and celebrated creation, Stuck was a result of Gordon’s belief later in life that reality was scarier than anything you could dream up, that the things people actually do to each other are far more bizarre and horrifying than anything that Lovecraft could dream of.
Anchored by exceptional performances, a well-constructed story, and a sure and steady hand behind the camera, Gordon’s final film is just as remarkable and praiseworthy as his first; the final punctuation mark on a brilliant and lasting legacy.
FEAR ITSELF: EATER (2008)
A tribute by Richard Tanner
Stuart Gordon’s last film was 2007’s Stuck, but his last project was in television, directing an episode of “Fear Itself” for NBC in 2008.
While I’ll always remember Stuart Gordon as being the man who introduced me to H.P Lovecraft, his lasting legacy will be as a true Master of Horror.
After the hit show “Masters of Horror” ran its course on Showtime, fans were left wanting more. They received an extra helping of the show, retooled for network television in the form of the short-lived series “Fear Itself”. Like its predecessor, “Fear Itself” featured self-contained horror/thriller stories directed by the biggest horror directors working in features at the time. Both shows were created by Mick Garris.
While not nearly as popular as “Masters of Horror”, Gordon still came out swinging with his episode of “Fear Itself”.
His adaptation of Eater was made for network television, but somehow maintained all the gore you would expect from the man behind Castle Freak and Re-Animator.
Eater is the story of a rookie cop (played by a young Elizabeth Moss), who is charged with guarding a cannibal that killed and ate 30 people. What she doesn’t know is that she has taken custody of a shape-shifting monster whose killing spree is far from over.
Gordon’s ability to take a serial killer/police thriller and mix it with an updated Wendigo tale is mind boggling. It should have been silly. But to be honest, it creeped me out so much that it is the only episode I can remember without having to pull out the box set.
You see, that’s how Gordon worked…he planted those insidious seeds inside your mind so you’ll never be able to forget.
And that’s perfect — because I never want to forget him.