Tobe Hooper, the beloved and groundbreaking filmmaker behind such genre classics as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergiest, died over the weekend in California.
The Austin, Texas native became a horror icon when he and some Texas filmmaker friends took an exploitable title and a meager budget and created one of the most terrifying movies ever made. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, released in 1974, became one of the most profitable independent films of all time, and one of the most influential.
Like fellow horror master George A. Romero (who died just a month ago), Hooper barely profited from his hit, which spent years tangled in litigation and dispute over proper ownership. But it got him plenty of gigs in the years that followed, directing cult hits Eaten Alive and The Funhouse and the television adaption of Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot, as well as the smash haunted-house flick Poltergeist for producer Steven Spielberg. He also revisited his most famous creation in 1986, and though The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 2 was initially deemed a disappointment, its wildly and unexpectedly comic take on terror has since made it a fan favorite.
He continued to work steadily in film and television (his most recent feature was 2013’s Djinn), and in 2011, he co-wrote a clever meta-horror novel, Midnight Movie.
Hooper was 74.