It is impossible to talk about American horror films without talking about Tobe Hooper.
Creative, ambitious, and driven, Hooper dragged the horror genre screaming into the 1970s with his blood-curdling, unforgettable The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). Co-written, directed, and scored by Hooper, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre first arrived to lukewarm reviews, but its critical appraisal has risen in recent years.
“Horror and exploitation films almost always turn a profit if they're brought in at the right price. So they provide a good starting place for ambitious would-be filmmakers who can't get more conventional projects off the ground,”said Roger Ebert. “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre belongs in a select company (with Night of the Living Dead and Last House on the Left) of films that are really a lot better than the genre requires. Not, however, that you'd necessarily enjoy seeing it.”
Influenced by serial killer Ed Gein—also the inspiration behind Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) and Thomas Harris’s Buffalo Bill (who appears in Jonathan Demme’s 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs)—as well as Houston serial killer Elmer Wayne Henley, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre concerns a group of friends who investigate rumours that member Sally’s grandfather’s has been vandalized. The group becomes ensnared by a group of psychotic outlaws led by a chainsaw-wielding lunatic nicknamed Leatherface.
It is now widely regarded as a classic.
Hooper was also credited with being the director to the film Poltergeist, a credit which has gone challenged by cast members who said that producer Steven Spielberg was also on-hand co-directing the film. Spielberg, also a writer on the film, openly celebrated the pair’s “unique creative relationship” instead, praising Hooper’s work.
Though Hooper's work declined later in his life, he did turn-out some other noteworthy films, including 2013's Djinn, which was set in and shot at the UAE. Though it received mediocre reviews, it remains an unsettling watch.
This is a sad year for fans of the horror genre, with both Hooper and Night of the Living Dead director George Romero passing away.
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