August 11, 1947
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Director, Screenwriter, Playwright, Producer, Theater company artistic director
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Best known to genre buffs as the adroit filmmaker behind the giddily gory H.P. Lovecraft adaptations, "Re-Animator" (1985) and "From Beyond" (1986), Gordon also boasts a significant theatrical background and other film credits ranging from direct-to-video genre fodder to bonafide Hollywood blockbusters. Gordon was the co-founder and longtime artistic director (1969-85) of Chicago's Organic Theater Company, where he directed 35 plays, including the world premiere of David Mamet's "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" and the long-running "Bleacher Bums."Gordon shifted to features with his directorial and screenwriting debut "Re-Animator." This absurdly bloody and sexually perverse variation on the standard "mad scientist" movie formulas was a surprising critical success. The film was a hit at Cannes (and a recipient of a critics prize) and became the first horror film ever included in the London Film Festival. Gordon's second released feature, "From Beyond" (1986), was actually his third completed film. Another irreverent take on Lovecraft, this atmospheric fever dream of a monster movie was less delirious than Gordon's debut but still had imagination to spare. His actual second feature, "Dolls" (released in 1987), was an uninspired comic horror rehash of killer doll stories. However, it has the minor distinction of being a special effects film that was shot for a modest $1.2 million budget in a mere six weeks. Gordon's subsequent credits include "Robot Jox" (1990), a good-natured tribute to Japanese monster movies, and "The Pit and the Pendulum" (1991), an impressive Poe adaptation. Along with frequent collaborator Brian Yuzna (producer of "Re-Animator," "From Beyond" and "Dolls") and film critic-turned-screenwriter Ed Naha (writer of "Dolls"), Gordon contributed the story for Disney's blockbuster fantasy "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" (1989) and served as the executive producer for the sequel "Honey, I Blew Up the Kid" (1992). He went abroad for his next directorial assignment, "Fortress" (1993), a satisfying sci-fi prison flick shot in Australia. Produced for a thrifty $14 million (more than double Gordon's previous highest budget), this solid genre film put its money up on the screen rather than in the bank account of some major star. Gordon also wrote the screenplay (from a Larry Cohen story) for Abel Ferrara's "Bodysnatchers" (1993), the third film to be derived from Jack Finney's novel, "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." As a film director, he continues to gravitate toward low-budget projects. Gordon also remains active in the theater.