Tobe Hooper, the director of horror classics The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist, died yesterday in Sherman Oaks, California. He was 74 years old. As of this writing, the cause of death has yet to be confirmed.
Hooper’s first Texas Chainsaw Massacre is still a horror masterpiece. The 1974 movie is an unmatched work of claustrophobic madness. Shot for less than $300,000, the film turned the real-life horror of Ed Gein into a grueling assault on the audience’s sanity. The film’s 1986 sequel was more of a horror-comedy, and while not nearly as good, it’s at least an interesting watch. (Hooper’s other Cannon Group movie, 1985’s Lifeforce, is one of the most bananas sci-fi/horror movies ever made.)
1982’s Poltergeist is also an excellent and very different kind of horror movie than The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There’s been a long and ongoing dispute among fans about who was more responsible for the finished film, credited director Hooper or producer Steven Spielberg.
To this day, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remains one of my favorite horror films. There is nothing else like it. While many of Hooper’s other movies may not be as memorable or well-loved as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it’s rare that anyone can make such a genuine classic, especially one that casts such a large, looming, and dark shadow over their other work.
With his passing, perhaps it’s best to honor Hooper by rewatching all of his films with appreciative eyes.
Flixist sends its condolences to Hooper’s family and loved ones.[via Variety]