Stuart Gordon, the director who is best known for his horror movie Re-Animator, died on Tuesday at the age of 72, according to his family.
Family representatives did not immediately reveal the cause of death.
Stuart Gordon was born in Chicago, Illinois, in August 1947, and attended Lane Technical High School. He was employed as a commercial artist apprentice before enrolling at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he majored in theater.
Gordon formed the Screw Theater at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Stuart Gordon was active in theater as a student in the 1960s. He also participated in anti-war protests.
He produced The Game Show at the University of Wisconsin in March 1968. During the play, the audience was locked in the theater and actors planted among them simulated being beaten and tortured.
“The worst abuse fell upon plants (actors posing as the audience), but the real audience members believed it was all real and that their lives were in danger,” Gordon said about the play. “They rioted at the same point in every performance.”
He founded his first theater company, the Screw Theater, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The Screw Theater, formed in the summer of 1968, staged multiple shows produced and directed by Gordon. One of the plays, a political and anti-war production based on Peter Pan, made national headlines.
He and his girlfriend Carolyn were arrested for obscenity due to “a kaleidoscope of hallucinogenic imagery for a controversial counterculture take on J.M. Barrie.”
The charges were eventually dropped in November 1968.
Gordon was known for his cult horror films
Stuart Gordon was best known for his cult horror-comedy film Re-Animator (1985), inspired by six of HP Lovecraft’s Herbert West stories.
Even high-brow film critic Pauline Kael loved it:
“A silly ghoulie classic—the bloodier it gets, the funnier it gets … It’s not out to scare you, it’s out to make you laugh at what other movies have scared you with, and at what they’d have scared you with if they hadn’t pulled back.”
He was also known for horror movies such as From Beyond, Dolls, Dagon, and the sci-fi comedy Space Truckers. He co-created the sci-fi comedy franchise Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and worked on the sequel and the TV series.
His movie credits included Body Snatchers, Edmond, Fortress, King of the Ants, and Castle Freak.
Stuart Gordon was also active in the Los Angeles theater and directed plays such as Nevermore: An Evening with Edgar Allen Po, Re-Animator: The Musical, and Taste.
Reactions on Twitter
Fans and colleagues in the entertainment industry have been paying tribute on Twitter.
Stars who have paid tribute include actress Barbara Crampton, director and screenwriter Edgar Wright, and film reporter Jenny Yamato.
An enormous talent, vibrant & boundary breaking, his work was in a class by itself. He created countless moments on film which were at once, funny, scary, daring & smart. He gave me my career. I lost a dear friend. I’m heartbroken. No words can do him justice. RIP Stuart Gordon
— Barbara Crampton (@barbaracrampton) March 25, 2020
Sorry to hear about the great Stuart Gordon passing. Along with his storied career in theatre and independent film, he is in the horror hall of hame forever for films like ‘From Beyond’ & the outrageous gem that is ‘Re-Animator’. Put a plaque up at Miskatonic University for him. pic.twitter.com/Uv56Bc4Isd
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) March 25, 2020
I’m so sorry to hear of Stuart Gordon’s passing. He was a great storyteller and a very kind man who went out of his way to mentor a number of younger filmmakers who absolutely adored him. https://t.co/NoTWljBGEw
— jen yamato (@jenyamato) March 25, 2020
Stuart Gordon was not only a brilliant filmmaker but an incredibly gracious human. He attended an early screening of A Horrible Way to Die and was quite kind about it, which was the only reason Adam and I had the confidence to try to cast Barbara Crampton in You’re Next. R.I.P.
— Simon Barrett (@Simon_Barrett) March 25, 2020
Stuart Gordon is survived by his wife Carolyn, daughters Suzanna, Jillian, and Margaret Gordon, grandchildren, and brother David George Gordon, according to Variety.