Stuart Gordon dies at 72

Horror community mourns a legend

by Jennie Kermode

A scene from Gordon's cult hit Re-Animator
A scene from Gordon's cult hit Re-Animator

The horror community was in mourning today following news of the death of writer and director Stuart Gordon, who was much loved both for his work and as a person. He passed away last night at the age of 72, from unspecified causes.

Gordon was best known for the anarchic horror romp Re-Animator, part of a series of works loosely based on the tales of HP Lovecraft which also included From Beyond and Dagon. He enjoyed the works of Edgar Allan Poe, adapting The Pit and the Pendulum, and strayed into science fiction with cult favourite Robot Jox. He was known for his exuberant approach to special effects, layering on the gore but always maintaining a sense of playfulness.

Stuart Gordon
Stuart Gordon Photo: Damon D'Amato

Beyond his genre work, Gordon explored film noir, working with David Mamet on Edmond and breaking into the mainstream with the thriller Stuck. He was also one of the original co-creators of Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, which he once described as "not that different from Re-Animator."

Gordon also worked extensively in theatre, co-founding the Organic Theater Company, which premièred Mamet's Sexual Perversity In Chicago. More recently, he directed Re-Animator: The Musical for the stage, along with the hit Nevermore…An Evening With Edgar Allen Poe, which featured Re-Animator star Jeffrey Combs.

He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Carolyn Purdy, who starred in ten of his films, along with three daughters, Suzanna, Jillian, and Margaret, and four grandchildren.

Re-Animator star Barbara Crampton described him as "an enormous talent, vibrant and boundary breaking," adding "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."

"He was a cinema maverick, a SplatterPunk and an actor’s auteur," said director Joe Lynch. "Stuart always brought his A game to any B flick."

Describing him as a "brilliant artist and sweet man," Troma's Lloyd Kaufman said simply "Let’s reanimate him!"

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