Remembering Tobe Hooper
Article by Ray Schillaci
The world of horror weeps rather than screams this day. Tobe Hooper has left us. The iconic director of the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has joined the likes of George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead) and Wes Craven (Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street).
I can still remember hesitating to see The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (alone) at the El Portal when NOHO was just North Hollywood. I was a dedicated horror hound, but you have to realize I didn’t see these movies just for gore. A thrilling and frightening story handled with craftsmanship was the equivalent of a great rollercoaster ride, and that’s exactly what Tobe Hooper’s film was. A no-holds barred tale of terror that threw its audience smack dab into a horrifying and uncomfortable experience unlike anything that had been seen before.
Sadly, Hooper’s first film eclipsed all his others. For Hooper had a quirky and oddly playful sense of humor. In the case of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it was so dark that it was nearly unrecognizable, but his other films ended up displaying his humorous and cultish side that gave him a devoted following.
One of the more stand-out characteristics of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is not just the gut-wrenching suspense, but the idea that the film is practically bloodless. Hooper has us imagining everything. When he did his sequel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, he delivered not only everything that he made you think you witnessed in the first one, but he went far beyond with an outlandish grand guignol comedic three ring circus that starred Dennis Hopper as a dual carrying chainsaw vigilante.
He continued with his theater of the bizarre with such cult favorites as the space vampire film Lifeforce and the twisted carnevil tale, The Funhouse. But one of Tobe’s best remembered horror outings was his rendition of Stephen King’s ‘Salems Lot. His take on the King story left chills and kept many of us awake for nights on end.
It’s a sad day, and it feels even more depressing with each year passing with everything going on in the world. To have such greatness leave us is very hard, for the works of Romero, Craven and Hooper gave us a wonderful escape. They will be missed, but never forgotten. Nevermore.