I’m sitting in the basement lounge of Tacoma’s Grand Theatre, next to the man who brought green glow-stick fluid and headless zombie lust to horror cinema. “Re-Animator” director Stuart Gordon is in town for two reasons. In an unlikely but inspired pairing, Gordon was asked to speak at the Tacoma Public Library and discuss the merits of Mary Shelley’s horror classic “Frankenstein.” Meanwhile, he’s also introducing a special screening of “Re-Animator,” his first feature film and arguably the most successful contemporary cinematic spin on the “Frankenstein” legend.
“Someone once told me that the classic monsters represent different aspects of human sexuality,” he reveals to a sold-out cinema crowd before “Re-Animator” un-spools. “They said that Dracula represented sex with a stranger, the Werewolf represented the animalistic aspects of sex, and Frankenstein represented masturbation. It’s man trying to create life without a woman. I asked him, ‘Are you implying that I was whacking off when I directed this film?’”
Ask Stuart Gordon to host a screening, and you’re guaranteed to get your money’s worth. He’s a dapper but potentially intimidating presence – burly, balding, and bearded, like the bouncer of some upper-rung nightclub. Get the director talking, however, and he reveals a friendly, non-threatening gift for the gab. Not that he’ll shy away from topics concerning sex and violence, both of which feature prominently in such Gordon classics as “Re-Animator,” “From Beyond,” and King of the Ants.
Filmgoers who associate the director only with splattered brains and severed limbs, however, might be surprised to find him behind “Kid Safe,” a promotional safety video for children. He also wrote “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,” and has helmed science fiction outings “Fortress” and “Robot Jox.” Gordon’s current project is “Edmond,” his screen adaptation of a David Mamet play, starring William H. Macy and Julia Styles. With such a diverse resume, it’s not surprising to find that while some Gordon films – like “Re-Animator” – have remained accessible over time, others – like “From Beyond” and “The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit” – are harder to come by.
Enter “Cinema CPR.”
In the paragraphs that follow, Gordon talks about the availability of his movies, pondering why some have endured while others fade into relative obscurity. It’s a valuable discussion for both fledgling filmmakers concerned with the preservation of their work, and fans of the director eager to acquire his harder-to-find films. Meanwhile, the conversation also reveals how older movies can sometimes become “re-animated” by chance circumstances, acquiring new life when it’s least expected.
Stuart Gordon speaks in part two of CINEMA CPR: THE FILMS OF STUART GORDON>>>