Stuart Gordon

Born and raised in Chicago and educated at UW Madison, Stuart Gordon (1947-2020) turned to movie storytelling after nearly two decades of acclaimed theatrical productions that were frequently outlandish and sometimes controversial. Gordon’s cinematic oeuvre was similarly championed for a colorful visual style, themes that celebrated working class underdogs, and stories driven by flamboyant villains who are typically authority figures abusing their power. A horror and science-fiction genre specialist, Gordon also made a few movies that are not easily categorizable. This third and final section of our year-long retrospective highlights three horror gems, Gordon’s 1991 variation on Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum, and two more H.P. Lovecraft adaptations, Dagon and From Beyond. The series also includes Gordon’s final theatrical feature, the shocking and satirical Stuck. All of the 35mm prints for this series are courtesy Wisconsin Center for Film & Theater Research. Special Thanks to Amanda Smith.

  • Sun., Oct. 9 | 2:00 PM

A monstrously self-absorbed driver (Suvari) hits an unemployed white collar worker (Rea), then heads home and parks the car in her garage while she figures out the most effective way to finish off her victim, who remains stuck in the car’s windshield! Gordon’s final theatrical feature, which finds the veteran director in peak creative form and employing his trademark blend of shocks and satire, was inspired by a real news story.

  • Sun., Oct. 16 | 2:00 PM

In this violent and visually striking variation on Edgar Allan Poe’s story, set in 1492, Torquemada (Henriksen), Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition, is tormented by his attraction to a baker’s wife accused of being a witch.  “Strong, well-researched script (by Dennis Paoli) owes little to Poe, but is vividly realized by Gordon…Henriksen’s intense performance is mesmerizing” (Leonard Maltin).

  • Sun., Oct. 23 | 2:00 PM

Washed ashore in a small coastal village after a boating accident, Paul (Godden) and his girlfriend Barbara (Meroño) uncover a frightening community of half-human/half-fish creatures who target the couple for a ritual sacrifice to Dagon, God of the Sea.  After Re-Animator, From Beyond, and Castle Freak, director Gordon and screenwriter Dennis Paoli returned to adapting H.P. Lovecraft, resulting in this clever and suspenseful monster movie.

  • Sun., Oct. 30 | 2:00 PM

Hot on the heels of his cult favorite debut feature, Re-Animator, director Gordon teamed again with screenwriter Dennis Paoli and actors Combs and Crampton for another equally dazzling and gory adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft story. The plot revolves around sinister experiments to stimulate the pineal gland in humans, awakening a “third eye” that turns the test subjects into raving, sex-crazed maniacs!