Richard Gordon dies at 85; producer of horror and science fiction films

Richard Gordon

, a B-moviemaker whose credits as a producer and executive producer of

science fiction



films included "Fiend

Without a Face" and "The Haunted Strangler,"

has died. He was 85.

The British-born Gordon died Tuesday

at New York-Presbyterian Hospital

in New York

City. He had been hospitalized in recent months for

heart problems

, said Tom Weaver, a friend.

Beginning his more than two-decade career as a producer in the mid-1950s, Gordon executive-produced movies such as

with Boris Karloff and

Christopher Lee


with Karloff, "Island of Terror" with

Peter Cushing

and "Fiend Without a Face" and "First Man Into Space," both with Marshall Thompson.

He later produced films such as "The Cat and the Canary," "Horror Hospital" and "Inseminoid."

"Gordon's horror and sci-fi movies changed with the times, incorporating slasher-type violence and some nudity because of the demands of the marketplace," Weaver said in an e-mail. His book-length interview with Gordon, "The Horror Hits of Richard Gordon," was published this year.

Gordon's "heart was in the Golden Age of horror movies he grew up with, and actually paid tribute to, even in the goriest of his pictures," Weaver said.

was a gory 1958 "science-gone-wild" movie in which a reclusive scientist's research results in the creation of human brains with snake-like spinal cord tails that attack and kill people.

When the movie opened at the Rialto Theatre in Times Square, a "Fiend" was displayed in a glass case in front of the theater.

"Every few minutes, the Fiend would move its motor-activated tail as a tape played the sounds that the Fiends make in the movie," Gordon told Weaver.

But after two days, he said, "the police made us take away the display because they said we were disrupting the traffic and flow of Times Square pedestrians."

Born in London on Dec. 31, 1925, Gordon developed an early love of the movies and wrote articles on films, edited fan club magazines and organized a film society while still in school.

After serving in the British Royal Navy from 1944 to 1946, he and

worked for film distributors in London before they moved to

New York City

in 1947.

While Richard Gordon remained in New York, Alex headed west, where he produced low-budget movies in the 1950s and '60s such as "The She-Creature" and "Dragstrip Girl."

In 1949, Richard Gordon launched Gordon Films Inc., which imported foreign movies for distribution in the U.S. He operated the company until his death.

"He was a lovely guy," Weaver said, "who lived and breathed movies."

Gordon had no survivors.