Just a little over a month after the passing of George R. Romero, another horror legend has passed away. On August 26th, Tobe Hooper died from natural causes at the age of 74.
Becoming interested in filmmaking as a young boy, Hooper eventually attended Radio-Television-Film classes at the University of Texas at Austin as well as studying drama in Dallas. He worked as a college professor and documentary cameraman during the 1960’s before his big breakout hit.
In 1974, Hooper released The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The film has been cited as one of the greatest, and most influential, horror films of all time. It also used the horror genre as a means to convey social commentary. Inspired by the real-life crimes of Ed Gein, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was made on a limited budget in the scorching Texas heat. The cast and crew filmed seven days a week and sometimes up to 16 hours a day to complete shooting. Hooper returned to direct a sequel in 1986 which is notably different than its predecessor but still considered a cult classic.
While The Texas Chain Saw Massacre may be Hooper’s most important and memorable film, he also directed many others within the genre. He helmed the 1979 TV-movie adaptation of the Stephen King classic, Salem’s Lot. In 1981, he directed The Funhouse in which a group of four friends are stalked through a carnival funhouse by a man in a Frankenstein’s monster mask. The following year came perhaps his second biggest work. Poltergeist, which was written and produced by Steven Spielberg, was the highest grossing horror film of 1982 and is considered to be a classic within the genre.
With Hooper’s death, the list of influential horror filmmakers sadly continues to dwindle following the loss of Romero last month and Wes Craven in 2015. All respects go to the friends and family of Tobe Hooper.