Bert I. Gordon, the director of 250 low-budget and cheesy horror films from the 1950s to the 2010s, died Wednesday in Los Angeles at the age of 100 after complications from a fall at home.
Some of Gordon’s most well-known movies were The Cyclops (1957), The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), Beginning of the End (1957), Earth vs. the Spider (1958), Attack of the Puppet People (1958), Tormented (1960), The Boy and the Pirates (1960) and Picture Mommy Dead (1966).
Gordon was known for having very small budgets for his films, but he managed to get many A-list actors to star in them. These included Joan Collins, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Beau Bridges, Ron Howard, and Orson Welles.
His ability to get big-name actors for his films even on tiny budgets earned him the nickname “Mister B.I.G.,” which were also his initials.
Low budgets, big effects
Gordon used special effects to bring his movie monsters to life with the help of his late wife Flora (they divorced in 1979 and she passed away in 1990), and his daughter Susan acted in some of the films. He also used stock footage for parts of the films.
One of his first movies, King Dinosaur, featured an iguana that would not move around until he brought heat lamps to the set. Gordon wrote and directed the movie on a budget of $18,000, which would be equivalent to about $200,000 today–still a tiny budget for a movie by anyone’s estimation.
The movie only had four actors and used stock footage for parts like when the military confronted the “dinosaur.”
Although he made a total of 250 movies according to IMDB, he said his favorite was Attack of the Puppet People, which featured a puppetmaster who shrank people to one-sixth of their original size because he was lonely.
Awards and honors
He received a career achievement award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films in 2011.
His movies have been screened (and mocked) on the 2000s comedy show Mystery Science Theatre 3000, but Gordon said he didn’t like the show much.
“I watched it one time, and I didn’t like them making fun of [his work],” he said. “I take my films very seriously.”
While figures on how his movies did at the box office were not available, he was said to have a net worth in the millions at the time of his death.
While special effects have become highly specialized and now involve advanced technologies, Gordon helped to show filmmakers what was possible without a lot of technology or money.
In his own way, he was a pioneer whose work, cheesy as much of it may have been, will not be forgotten.