Tobe Hooper: ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ Director Passes Away; Hollywood Reactions

Filmmaker Tobe Hooper, who shook up the horror genre with his ’74 picture The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, has died at age 74.

Hooper reportedly passed away from natural causes in Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles and is survived by two sons.

Loosely inspired by the crimes of real-life murderer Ed Gein, Hooper co-wrote The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with Kim Henkel and brought it to life for around $US300,000. It was huge hit, causing wide buzz and controversy surrounding its violence and pulling in a huge $US30 million at the box office. The hugely influential film was banned for periods in a number of countries, including Australia, where censors refused to classify it until the ban was lifted ten years later in 1984. Chainsaw‘s notorious reputation speaks volumes of Hooper’s impressive direction; the film remains brutal and unsettling, despite little bloodletting and a lot of the violence actually insinuated.

The filmmaker had another well-received outing with 1979’s Salem’s Lot, a mini-series adaptation of the horror novel of the same name by Stephen King, but it is ’82’s Poltergeist that arguably remains his second-most icon piece. Steven Spielberg came up with the story, co-wrote the screenplay and produced the picture, which performed well with critics and at the box office. To this day there remains a debate as to how much of a role Spielberg really had to play, with many claiming that Spielberg was more pivotal than Hooper in the overall creation of the film.

Other 80s movies on Hooper’s credits list include cult hits The Funhouse, which follows four kids being chased by a deformed man in a carnival house; Lifeforce, a sci-fi horror film that tells of a race of space vampires that arrive in London to infect the populace; and Invaders from Mars, a family-friendly remake about a boy who tries to stop aliens that have taken over his town.

Hooper directed The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 in 1986. The sequel took a more comedic approach and wasn’t very well received at the time of release. Although it has always received mixed reviews, it has also grown to become something of a cult hit.

While Hooper wasn’t quite able to repeat the sort of success that he found with Texas Chainsaw, Salem’s Lot and Poltergeist, he nevertheless continued to form a wide body of work over the years. He directed a music video for Billy Idol’s “Dancing with Myself” in ’83 and worked on a number of television outings, including The Equalizer, Tales from the Crypt, Taken (2002) and 2 episodes of Master of Horror. His later features include Toolbox Murders, Mortuary and Djinn.

Reactions to Hooper’s demise have been coming from Hollywood:

‪RIP #TobeHooper, brilliant director of #TheTexasChainsawMassacre – one of the most successful independent films of all time. I met this icon once, years ago at the old Dave’s Laser on Ventura in the Valley. I was able to tell him how important he was to me and indie cinema in general and how much I LOVE TexasChainsawMassacre2 – (a movie that me and @TellEmSteveDave and #VincentPereira still quote at each other to this day). Not only did the man terrify me with #SalemsLot and #Poltergeist in my youth, his DIY moxie to make movies at all inspired me as a 23 year old who wanted to make Clerks. While my first film wasn’t a horror movie (I wouldn’t make my first horror flick until #JerseyGirl), I was terrified nonetheless about spending 27 grand on credit cards when I was dirt poor. But Tobe’s work made the prospect of making a movie with no money when I’d never done something like that before less scary. He proved you didn’t need lots of money or studio backing to make a flick – so to me, Tobe will always be one of the best filmmakers who ever lived. He entertained me long before I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker and he inspired me and kept me going when I was first learning to tell my stories cinematically. Thanks for that, Mister Hooper – and thanks for being so gracious and patient when I rightly gushed at you that day. You changed the world, storyteller, and your name and ideas will always be a part of my DNA. Because sex? Well nobody knows what sex is. But the saw is family! #KevinSmith #TobeHooper #Director #filmmaker #indiefilm #horror ‬

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