It’s been a sad year thus far in regards to loss. Earlier this year we lost Bill Paxton (ALIENS), Roger Moore (JAMES BOND, THE MAN WHO HAUNTED HIMSELF), John Hurt (THE ELEPHANT MAN), Chester Bennington (Linkin Park lead singer and victim in SAW 7) and very recently the Godfather of Zombie, George A. Romero.
Today, Sunday 27th August, we wake to the news that another of horror’ s icons has sadly died. Tobe Hooper, director of EATEN ALIVE, POLTERGEIST, THE TOOLBOX MURDERS, SALEM’S LOT, LIFEFORCE, THE FUNHOUSE and the relatively unknown TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and it’s sequel.
Safe to say, when it comes to horror Mr Hooper owned the eighties. So its with great sadness that the news of his death has really hit home with a darkened cloud.
The circumstances of his death are not known but his death has responded across the horror community sending shockwaves of the real horror of life… mortality.
Fortunately, Hooper leaves a legacy behind and whether you saw the terrifying origins of Leatherface in 1974 or on a dusty vhs theres no forgetting the man who bought real terror to cinema goers. Ling before EVIL DEAD and HALLOWEEN scared audiences, Hooper was looking for new and unforgettable was to invoke fear and in 1974 he did just that. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE may well be his biggest success but there is no forgetting his numerous stamps in horror.
The TV adaptation of SALEM’S LOT starring then mainstream icon David Soul (STARSKY AND HUTCH) was immediately censored for terrifying audiences in scenes that still hold up today.
More controversially, Hooper’s collaboration with Stephen Spielberg was a more tasteless encounter. Often taking the credit, producer Spielberg is often the reference for POLTERGIEST but it was Hooper who ultimately sat behind the directors seat. Another everlasting classic that has failed the remake test.
Yet beyond his successes, the best movies are the unearthed and unheard that really share his vision. Robert Englund starred in NIGHT TERRORS, THE MANGLER and EATEN ALIVE (aka TRAP DOOR) and the trio are still classic video nasties. If TCM was the mainstream older brother, then Hooper’s younger siblings are the vicious, nasty and just as entertaining siblings.
LIFEFORCE is a blend of science fiction and zombie mayhem, something only Hooper himself could accomplish in an era where science fiction meant 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY but this was b-movie madness in hollywood.
Not withstanding a few duds, INVADERS FROM MARS is somewhat acquired viewing, and the forgetful THE MORTUARY, his resume is a shining example of how great horror can be. Diverse, innovative and terrifying. So at 74 years of age, this here is a salute to an icon, a legend and a man who will be sorely missed. God bless and good rest!