Stuart Gordon  

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"Dagon is a Spanish-made horror film directed by Stuart Gordon. Though titled after Lovecraft's story "Dagon", the film is actually an effective adaptation of his story The Shadow over Innsmouth." --Sholem Stein

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Stuart Gordon (August 11, 1947 – March 25, 2020) was an American filmmaker, theatre director, screenwriter, and playwright. Initially recognized for his provocative and frequently controversial work in experimental theatre, Gordon is perhaps more widely known for work in film. Most of Gordon's cinematic work is in the horror genre, though he has also ventured into science fiction and film noir.

Like his friend and fellow filmmaker Brian Yuzna, Gordon was a fan of H. P. Lovecraft and adapted several of the author's stories for the screen, including Re-Animator, From Beyond, and Dagon, as well as the Masters of Horror episode Dreams in the Witch-House. He has turned to the work of Edgar Allan Poe on two occasions, directing The Pit and the Pendulum in 1991 and The Black Cat for Masters of Horror Showtime series in 2007. Several of his films have gone onto become cult classics.


Early life and education

Gordon was born in Chicago, Illinois. After graduating from Lane Technical High School, Gordon worked as a commercial artist apprentice prior to enrolling at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Unable to get into the film classes, he enrolled in an acting class and ended up majoring in theater. During this time, he founded his first theatre company; the Screw Theater.



In late March 1968, Gordon produced The Game Show on the Play Circle stage of the University of Wisconsin–Madison's Wisconsin Union Theater. The play, intended to be an attack on apathy, locked the audience in the theater and seemingly humiliated, beat and raped them (audience plants were used). Every performance ended with the audience rioting and stopping the show.

THE GAME SHOW's game is you. It is completely dedicated to destroying the complacency of every member in the audience, to making you react. It wants you to get up and be forcibly smashed in the head and the body, it wants you to throw up, to scream out, to lose the trust of the person sitting right next to you, to reach and act. It wants you -all by yourself- to do something.

Gordon then formed Screw Theater in the summer of 1968 and produced and directed four shows, the final one, in the fall of 1968, a political version of Peter Pan that got him and his future wife arrested for obscenity. The story made national headlines until the charges were dropped in November 1968. As Gordon described it in a 2001 interview:

I had been protesting against the war in Viet Nam, and got tear-gassed by the Chicago police, and it suddenly struck me that you could take Peter Pan and turn it into a political cartoon about the whole situation. So, Peter Pan became the leader of the hippies and yippies, Captain Hook became Mayor Daley, and the pirates became the Chicago police. We left all of the James Barrie dialogue intact, so when they all went off to Neverland they sprinkled pixie dust on themselves and think lovely thoughts, and up they go. That was an acid trip, which was visualized by a psychedelic light show that was projected onto the bodies of seven naked young ladies...

After the University of Wisconsin demanded future theatrical productions by Screw Theater be overseen by a university professor, Gordon cut his University ties to form Broom Street Theater. Its first production, the new translation of the risque Lysistrata, premiered in May 1969.

Later that year, with his wife Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, they founded the Chicago Organic Theater Company, for which Gordon also served as artistic director. With the company, he produced and directed thirty-seven plays, among them the world premieres of The Warp Trilogy (Warp! was later adapted into a comic book by First Comics), David Mamet's Sexual Perversity in Chicago and Bleacher Bums, E/R Emergency Room (which was adapted into the short-lived TV series E/R), and a two part adaptation of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

In 2009, he directed the one-man theatrical show, Nevermore...An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe, which reunited him with Re-Animator alumnus, actor Jeffrey Combs and writer Dennis Paoli. Recently nominated for a Saturn award, the show enjoyed much success at its premiere in Los Angeles and is now in the process of touring the country. In 2011 Gordon produced, directed and co-wrote the book for Re-Animator: The Musical. It played to sold out houses, rave reviews and standing ovations for six months at the Steve Allen Theater. In 2012, it was performed at the New York Musical Theater Festival (NYMF) and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Gordon's next play Taste, premiered at Los Angeles' Sacred Fools Theater Company in April 2014. The play, based on the true story of Armin Meiwes, the Rotenburg Cannibal, was written by Benjamin Brand.

Film and television

With Brian Yuzna and writer Ed Naha he co-created Honey, I Shrunk the Kids for Disney Studios and executive produced the sequel Honey, I Blew Up the Kid. He also co-wrote Body Snatchers for Warner Brothers in 1993 and The Dentist for Trimark in 1998.

He produced, co-wrote and directed the science fiction comedy Space Truckers starring Dennis Hopper in 1996. He also produced and directed The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit written by Ray Bradbury in 1998.

In 2003 he turned to film noir and produced and directed King of the Ants based on the novel by Charlie Higson. This was followed by a film adaptation of David Mamet's dark play Edmond starring William H. Macy in 2006. And in 2007 he produced, co-wrote and directed Stuck starring Stephen Rea and Mena Suvari.

He also directed "Eater", an episode of Fear Itself, for NBC in 2008.
Stuart Gordon has also been a contributor to Blu-ray/DVD extras content (liner notes) for cult film distributors Grindhouse Releasing/Box Office Spectaculars on one of his favorite films, Frank and Eleanor Perry's The Swimmer starring Burt Lancaster.

Personal life

Gordon was married to Carolyn Purdy-Gordon at the time of his death, whom he frequently cast, and often murdered, in his movies. He was father of three daughters- Suzanna, Jillian, and Margaret.



Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1985 Re-Animator Template:Aye Template:Aye Caixa de Catalunya (Sitges Film Festival)
Special Mention (Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival)
Jury Award for Best Film (Fantafestival)
1986 From Beyond Template:Aye Template:Aye Prize of the Catalan Screenwriter's Critic and Writer's Association (Sitges Film Festival)
1987 Dolls Template:Aye
1988 Kid Safe: The Video Template:Aye Template:Aye Template:Aye Short film
1989 Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Template:Aye
1990 Robot Jox Template:Aye Template:AyeTemplate:Ref Nominated- International Fantasy Film Award
1991 The Pit and the Pendulum Template:Aye Nominated- International Fantasy Film Award
1992 Honey, I Blew Up the Kid Template:AyeTemplate:Ref
Fortress Template:Aye
1993 Body Snatchers Template:Aye
1995 Castle Freak Template:Aye Template:Aye
1996 The Dentist Template:Aye
Space Truckers Template:Aye Template:Aye Template:Aye Nominated- Maria Award for Best Film (Sitges Film Festival)
1998 The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit Template:Aye Template:Aye Jury Award for Best Direction (Fantafestival)
Nominated- International Fantasy Film Award
1999 Progeny Template:AyeTemplate:Ref Template:AyeTemplate:Ref Nominated- International Fantasy Film Award
2000 Snail Boy Template:AyeTemplate:Ref Short film
2001 Dagon Template:Aye Nominated- Maria Award for Best Film (Sitges Film Festival)
2003 King of the Ants Template:Aye Template:Aye
2005 Edmond Template:Aye Template:Aye New Visions Award (Sitges Film Festival)
Nominated- Grand Special Prize (Deauville Film Festival)
Nominated- Best Film - International Competition (Mar del Plata International Film Festival)
2007 Stuck Template:Aye Template:AyeTemplate:Ref Template:Aye Staff Prize for Narrative Feature (San Francisco Indiefest)
Silver Raven (Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival)
Nominated- Maria Award for Best Film (Sitges Film Festival)


Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1979 Bleacher Bums Template:Aye Template:Aye TV presentation of a taped play

Chicago / Midwest Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement - Single Program

1990 Daughter of Darkness Template:Aye Television film
1998 Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show Template:Aye Episode: "Honey, Let's Trick or Treat"
2002 Bleacher Bums Template:AyeTemplate:Ref Television film
2005-07 Masters of Horror Template:Aye Template:Aye Episodes: "Dreams In the Witch-House" & "The Black Cat"
2008 Fear Itself Template:Aye Episode: "Eater"

Template:Note I Credited for story only
Template:Note II Credited for executive producer only

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