Stuart Gordon (August 11, 1947 – March 24, 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.
1 Early life and education
2.2 Film and television
3 Personal life
5 Stage credits
7 External links
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.
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.
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.
Gordon at the premiere of Stuck, Toronto International Film Festival 2007
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