Hey everybody, Rick here with some sad news. Tobe Hooper, director of such films as THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2, LIFEFORCE, INVADERS FROM MARS, and POLTERGEIST has passed away. I thought it would be a nice way to pay tribute and do a little retrospective on some of Hooper's work because he is widely considered to be an influential horror director.
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
I remember the taboo that surrounded the original "Chainsaw Massacre", and I will never forget the first time I saw the movie. I didn't see it until I was well into my 20s, and even then, it packed a whallop. I remember a lot of friends telling me that it is SUPER gory. Truth be told, the movie is largely bloodless. There are moments that COULD have had extra gore, but they didn't. It is more off screen and implied than anything, but that does not necessarily mean that the movie is any less terrifying. Even the trailer is pretty freaky in its own right.
I never did see this particular one. I have heard some mixed things about it. I am intrigued to see it though. If I get around to doing so, I will definitely post a review.
I will preface here by saying that I am aware of the controversy surrounding Hooper and POLTERGEIST in that Steven Spielberg apparently directed it, but I am not going to discuss that here because Hooper is listed as director. This was my first foray into horror. I first saw this one when I was a kid and it was like going on a roller coaster. It is a bit of a slow burn, though but when it kicks into gear, the scares hit fast and hard. I love everything about this movie and it really is a lot of spooky fun;.
Another one I have not seen, but have heard a lot about. Don't judge. I lived a sheltered childhood. This one is high on my list of stuff to see. This particular one kicked off Hooper's collaborations with the much maligned movie studio, Cannon Films. Hooper had so much success with this one that he went and made two more movies with them producing. Be warned that this trailer is NSFW.
INVADERS FROM MARS
This one I HAVE seen. It is a remake of an older film. My reaction to it was mixed. I enjoyed the look of the film, but at the time I saw it, I was much younger than I am now, and it freaked me out something fierce. I wonder if my reaction to it now would be any different.
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2
This one I have definitely seen. I quite enjoyed it for the most part. The stand out not being the character of Leatherface, but rather that of Chop Top, played by the incomparable Bill Mosley. He steals every scene that he is in, even more so than Dennis Hopper, who is clearly having a lot of fun as a sheriff bent on getting Leatherface and his cronies taken out. This one is a lot of fun, though I found the ending to be just completely baffling.
Hooper made other movies, but none were as successful as his early stuff. I remember seeing this last trailer shown at a Fangoria Weekend of Horrors convention and was intrigued by it. I eventually saw it on home video; if for no other reason than Robert Englund was in this one and it looked creepy. it was based on a Stephen King novel. Hooper, Englund and King! How could that go wrong? Well...
In his heyday, Tobe Hooper was a definite innovator and a name in horror. He helped define a genre and it is a shame that his later work could not reflect his earlier, better films. That said, he is a cinematic presence that will be enjoyed and talked aboout even today. Our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and fellow fans.