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Legendary Horror Director Tobe Hooper Passes Away

August 27, 2017 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Tobe Hooper Texas Chain Saw Massacre 2

Another legendary horror director has left us. Variety reports that Tobe Hooper, the man best known for directing the iconic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, died on Saturday in Sherman Oaks, California. The circumstances of Hooper’s death are not yet known; he was seventy-four years old.

The man who would also be known for films like Poltergeist and Lifeforce was born Willard Tope Hooper in Austin, Texas. Hooper’s father Norman owned a theater in San Angelo and the young Tobe became interested in film while using his dad’s 8mm camera at the age of nine. He would go on to take classes on film at the University of Texas at Austin, but went into teaching at first instead of film-making.

Before he directed the film that he would be forever known for, Hooper shot documentaries and his 1965 documentary short The Heisters nearly earned an Academy Award nomination, having been invited to be submitted. However, it wasn’t able to be finished in time.

Hooper would eventually make The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in 1974, shot on a shoestring budget of less than $300,000 — even then, a small sum for a film. The tale of a group of friends who run into Leatherface and his cannibal family was co-written by Hooper and Kim Henkel, inspired by real-life serial killer Ed Gein. The film was banned in many countries due to its violent content but still managed to become one the most profitable independent films of the decade.

Hooper would go on to direct the first sequel, 1986’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, but before that he directed Poltergeist. The haunted house film was written and produced by Steven Spielberg. To this day, there have been allegations the Spielberg actually directed the film but couldn’t be credited as such due to a stipulation in his E.T. contract that prevented him helming other films while prepping that one. Conflicting stories have come out about how much creative input Spielberg had, though an open letter from Spielberg to Hooper credited the latter as director.

Hooper also directed such projects as Invaders From Mars and the 1979 miniseries based on Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. He worked in television and film through the 1990s and 2000s, doing such films as The Mangler and Toolbox Murders. He also directed music videos, most notably Billy Idol’s video for “Dancing With Myself.” His last film was 2013’s Djinn

On behalf of 411, our deepest condolences to the family, friends and fans of Mr. Hooper. Horror would not be the same without him.