Stuart Gordon — the horror-film director who helmed the cult classic Re-Animator and co-created the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids franchise — has died at the age of 72.
Gordon’s wife Carolyn Purdy-Gordon confirmed her husband’s death to Variety. No cause of death was revealed.
Over a film career that spanned three decades, Gordon was best known for his ability to harness the weirdness of H.P. Lovecraft’s works and translate them to the big screen: In addition to 1985’s Re-Animator, a modern update of Lovecraft’s 1922 novella, Gordon also helmed From Beyond, Castle Freak, Dagon, and an episode of Masters of Horror, all based on stories by the weird-fiction pioneer.
“I don’t think it’s an accident that all H.P. Lovecraft’s stories are set in Massachusetts, the center of Puritanism,” Gordon told Rolling Stone in 1985. “Lovecraft was examining the Puritan mentality, which on the surface is very proper and straight-laced and moral, and underneath is possessed by demons.”
Re-Animator, a darkly comic and extremely bloody Gothic horror film about a murderous medical student’s obsession with reviving the dead — and one of the best zombie movies ever — spawned a pair of sequels as well as the 2011 stage show Re-Animator: The Musical, featuring a book co-written by Gordon.
Re-Animator actress Barbara Crampton tweeted of Gordon Wednesday: “An enormous talent, vibrant and boundary-breaking, his work was in a class by itself. He created countless moments on film which were at once funny, scary, daring and smart. He gave me my career. I lost a dear friend. I’m heartbroken. No words can do him justice.”
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Prior to his work in film, Gordon and his wife co-founded Chicago’s Organic Theater Company, with Gordon serving as artistic director during his tenure with the group, including the premiere of David Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago; Gordon would later direct a film version of Mamet’s Edmond in 2005.
Alongside his longtime collaborators, producer Brian Yuzna and writer Ed Naha, Gordon co-created the story that would eventually become Disney’s 1989 family film Honey, I Shrunk the Kids; Gordon was also originally tapped to direct the film — then titled Teeny Weenies — but had to drop out due to illness.
Gordon’s directorial career also includes adaptations of Edgar Allen Poe (1991’s The Pit and the Pendulum), Ray Bradbury (1998’s The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit), and Joe Haldeman (1990’s Robot Jox). His last film was 2007’s Stuck.
“There is a side of me that likes to break through clichés and wake people up,” Gordon told Rolling Stone in 1985. “I find that fun. I think that’s part of what art is supposed to do — to make you see or experience things in ways that you haven’t before.”