R.I.P. Bert I. Gordon, classic B-movie director and creator of several Svengoolie favorites
The horror and sci-fi legend gave us giant spiders, rampaging mutants and shrinking men. He was 100 years old.
When you think of those classic horror and sci-fi B-movies from the Fifties and Sixties, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better example than the work of Bert I. Gordon. Giant monsters, low-budget practical effects, creature features and innovative concepts are just a few of the things that make Gordon's work still so iconic today.
He first made a splash in the world of filmmaking with his first feature picture, 1955's King Dinosaur. The movie was a masterpiece in low-budget sci-fi, using only four actors (plus a narrator), shot over only seven days, and using military stock footage to fill in the rest. The film, while getting less-than-positive reviews, had the hallmarks of what Gordon would go on to be known for... giant insects, an enormous snake, and a sci-fi ending involving a spaceship and an explosion.
King Dinosaur would go on to be riffed during Mystery Science Theater 3000's second season. Gordon was a favorite of the MST3K crew, and according to the MST3K wiki, he was the director who had the most movies appear on the program (eight in total, plus a Rifftrax feature).
Forest J. Ackerman, an influential writer and force in the early sci-fi fandom, dubbed Gordon "Mr. B.I.G.," both for his initials and his love of creating oversized creatures for his films.
Over the years, Gordon would create more monster-sized spectacles with films often seen on Svengoolie such as Earth vs. the Spider, The Amazing Colossal Man and the sequel War of the Colossal Beast, and Attack of the Puppet People which flipped the formula with John Hoyt shrinking down people to the size of dolls.
Gordon continued to write and direct well into his 90s with Secrets of a Psychopath being released in 2015. Gordon reportedly enjoyed the modern technique of filming digitally, which allowed him to watch back footage immediately, as he always hated waiting for dailies to come back when shooting on film.
The impact Gordon left on the horror and sci-fi landscape was enormous — just like a giant spider on its way to chow down on some local teenagers. The B-movie legend was 100 years old when he passed.