Gordon Hessler (12 December 1925 – 19 January 2014) was a British film and television director, screenwriter, and producer.
Born in Berlin, Germany, he was raised in England and studied at the University of Reading. While a teenager, he moved to the United States and directed a series of short films and documentaries. Universal Studios hired Hessler as a story reader for the Alfred Hitchcock Presents television series. He became the story editor for two seasons (1960–1962) for that series, then served as the associate producer for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour from 1962 until its cancellation in 1965. He directed episodes of that series and several other shows (including Hawaii Five-O).
His first foray into horror was the low-budget Catacombs (aka The Woman Who Wouldn’t Die, 1964). In 1969, he directed his first widely-released feature film, The Oblong Box, starring Vincent Price. It was the first of three horror films Hessler would direct with the veteran horror star, the other two being Scream and Scream Again (1969) and Cry of the Banshee (1970). He worked uncredited as a director on De Sade (1969) when Cy Endfield failed to deliver the salacious type of movie that American International Pictures (AIP) wanted to release.
A solid, reliable director-for-hire, Hessler’s other work included Murders in the Rue Morgue (1971), Scream Pretty Peggy (1973), murder mystery Medusa (1973), The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1974 with Caroline Munro, pictured with Hessler above), Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974) Hitchhike! (1974, TV movie), The Strange Possession of Mrs. Oliver, KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978), Tales of the Unexpected (1979, TV movie, co-director), Evil Stalks This House/Tales of the Haunted (1981, TV movie) and The Girl in a Swing (1988) starring Meg Tilly, an adaptation of Richard Adams’s ghost story novel. In 1976, he was announced as the director of the ill-fated first attempt to turn comic book legend Vampirella into a film project.
Director Gordon Hessler talks to George Reis for DVD Drive-In
Image credits: Museu do VHS