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Friday, September 1, 2017

In Memoriam: Tobe Hooper

Written by Jon Williams

Acclaimed horror director Tobe Hooper passed away last weekend at the age of 74. He was considered an incredibly influential filmmaker—a quick Internet search will return a number of articles praising his work—and looking over his body of work, it’s easy to see why.

Growing up in Texas with parents who owned a theater, Hooper came by his love of movies naturally. He took that love with him to film school at the University of Texas in Austin, and he jumped into his career with his first film in 1969, at the age of 26. Eggshells, a low-budget horror/sci-fi movie, barely made a ripple as it came into the world. The same could not be said for his next feature. In 1974, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre terrified audiences and revivified a flagging horror genre. Filmmakers including Wes Craven, Guillermo del Toro, William Friedkin, and Ridley Scott have cited this seminal film as an influence in their work. He followed it up with a sequel in 1986, and the original was remade in 2003, with Hooper serving as co-producer.

Then, in 1982, came Poltergeist. Written by Steven Spielberg, who was unable to direct while he worked on E.T., the film was instead directed by Hooper. It was a critical and commercial success, and is still considered a classic 35 years later. Despite some confusion over Hooper’s role in the film, he pressed on, following it up with a pair of horror/sci-fi mashups: Lifeforce in 1985, and Invaders from Mars (a remake of a 1953 movie) in 1986. In 1995 he directed The Mangler, based on a short story by Stephen King and starring horror icon Robert Englund. His final film was 2003’s Djinn, about an apartment that is haunted by demons.

However, the silver screen was only part of Tobe Hooper’s career; he also did quite a bit of work for the small screen. That began in 1979 with his first Stephen King collaboration: the miniseries adaptation of the vampire novel Salem’s Lot. Over the years he would contribute to a number of anthology shows like Amazing Stories, Body Bags, Tales from the Crypt, and Masters of Horror. He also directed individual for a number of other shows, such as The Equalizer, Dark Skies, and Taken.

Tobe Hooper loomed large in the world of horror filmmaking, and his absence will be sorely felt. With Halloween right around the corner, now is a perfect time to stock your shelves with his classic films and lesser-known gems. You can SmartBrowse his name on our website to find all the titles listed above and more.

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