By MICHAEL GINGOLD
The man known as “Mr. B.I.G.” has passed away.
Variety reports that filmmaker Bert I. Gordon died yesterday after collapsing at his Beverly Hills home, at age 100. After beginning his feature-film career as producer on 1954’s SERPENT ISLAND (written and directed by Tom Gries, who went on to become an Emmy-winning TV director), Gordon took the helm with 1955’s KING DINOSAUR, the first in a series of features about oversized creatures and humans (leading Famous Monsters of Filmland editor Forrest J Ackerman to bestow him with the “Mr. B.I.G.” nickname). These included 1957’s BEGINNING OF THE END (1957), about giant grasshoppers, THE CYCLOPS and THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN, 1958’s sequel WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST and EARTH VS. THE SPIDER, along with ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE, in which miniaturized humans battle “giant” threats.
In 1965, Gordon directed VILLAGE OF THE GIANTS, involving super-sized teenagers, co-starring “Ronny” Howard and loosely based on H.G. Wells’ novel THE FOOD OF THE GODS. He eventually made a direct (albeit still altered) FOOD OF THE GODS adaptation in 1976, with enlarged rats, chickens and other fauna, and followed it a year later with another Wells translation, EMPIRE OF THE ANTS. Gordon often handled the visual effects on these films himself. He also helmed other kinds of horror pictures, including TORMENTED (1960), PICTURE MOMMY DEAD (1966), NECROMANCY (1972) with Orson Welles, BURNED AT THE STAKE, a.k.a. THE COMING (1982), SATAN’S PRINCESS (1990) and SECRETS OF A PSYCHOPATH (2015). Two of his children followed him into the family business: Susan was an actress on numerous TV series and also PICTURE MOMMY DEAD, while Patricia was a script supervisor on BURNED AT THE STAKE as well as THE BEING and BLOOD SONG.
Gordon leaves behind a legacy of films that have entertained generations of kids of all ages. RIP, Mr. B.I.G.