Acclaimed horror film director Tobe Hooper passed away on August 26, 2017 at the age of 74.
Most known for THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974), Hooper directed a bunch of horror movies, but none more famous or influential than this 1974 classic.
I know a lot of horror writers who not only swear by THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE but view it as the best horror movie ever made. While I don’t share this opinion, I agree that it’s certainly one of the most iconic horror movies of all time.
Just as many writers I know choose it as their favorite horror movie. Others cite it as the movie that inspired them to write horror. All this attention and love poured onto THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, that’s saying something.
But Tobe Hooper made more horror movies than just THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. Here’s a partial look at Tobe Hooper’s film career:
EGGSHELLS (1969) – Hooper’s first feature-length directorial credit, an allegorical fantasy involving hippies and a big house in the woods.
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) – Tobe Hooper’s signature film, and the movie that introduced Leatherface to the world. Some good old-fashioned fun in Texas when a group of teens run afoul a family of psychopathic cannibals. Yikes! Some folks call this the greatest horror movie ever made. I’m not one of them. Still, it’s classic, iconic horror.
EATEN ALIVE (1976) – Murderous psychopath feeds his victims to his pet crocodile. Yummy!
SALEM’S LOT (1979) – Hooper’s made-for-TV adaptation of Stephen King’s frightening vampire novel might be my personal favorite Hooper film. Scary in all the right places, it’s not as good as the novel and is somewhat dated today, but still worth a look. James Mason steals all his scenes as the evil Mr. Straker.
THE FUNHOUSE (1981) – a poor man’s HALLOWEEN, this slasher flick which takes place at a carnival is must-see summer viewing, even if at the end of the day, it’s really not all that scary.
POLTERGEIST (1982) – a huge hit back in the day, but not a film I ever liked all that much. The debate rages on. Who directed this one? Hooper or producer Steven Spielberg? I’ve read compelling evidence that it was Spielberg, and it certainly seems like a Spielberg-directed picture, which is one of the reasons at the time I was lukewarm to it.
LIFEFORCE (1985)- wild, crazy science fiction thriller about a female alien/vampire who spends most of her time naked and killing everyone she encounters. A truly insane movie which I happen to like a lot. Somewhat of a cult favorite today. Written by ALIEN screenwriter Dan O’Bannon.
INVADERS FROM MARS (1986) – remake of 1953 science fiction movie of the same name tells the story of a Martian invasion seen through a boy’s eyes.
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (1986)- Hooper’s sequel to his horror classic has never been well received by either fans or critics.
THE MANGLER (1995) – this one’s about a laundry folding machine possessed by a demon. Stars Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund.
TOOLBOX MURDERS (2004) – Evil inside a historic hotel.
DJINN (2013) – Hooper’s final film. This time it’s an apartment that’s haunted.
There’s no doubt that Tobe Hooper had an influential career, as I know writers and filmmakers who cite Hooper as inspiring their own horror careers. I’ve never been a big Tobe Hooper fan, but he did make an impressive number of horror movies. Regardless of how you feel about his movies, you’d be hard-pressed to watch them and not have a strong reaction to them, which for some folks, is what horror is all about.
Tobe Hooper – January 25, 1943 – August 26, 2017.