Tobe Hooper, the iconic horror director best known for helming “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and “Poltergeist,” died Saturday in Sherman Oaks, Calif. at the age of 74. The cause of his death at this time is not known.
The 1974 “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” became one of the most influential horror films of all time for its realistic approach and deranged vision. Shot for less than $300,000, it tells the story of a group of unfortunate friends who encounter a group of cannibals on their way to visit an old homestead.
Leatherface and his hungry kin terrified a generation of picture-goers while critics admired Hooper for leaving most of the horror to the imagination.
Speaking in 2014 to Interview Magazine, Hooper explained why the Leatherface character wore a mask.
“When you can’t see his face, your imagination goes wild,” he replied. “When you can’t see, you fill in the blanks with something that’s far more interesting than what can actually be shown.”
Though it was banned in several countries for violence, it was one of the most profitable independent films of the 1970s
The 1982 “Poltergeist,” written and produced by Steven Spielberg, also became a classic of the genre. The story of a family coping with a house haunted by unruly ghosts starred JoBeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson. The film was a box office success for MGM and became the eighth-highest grossing film of the year.
After “Poltergeist,” Hooper directed two movies for Cannon Films, “Lifeforce” and “Invaders from Mars,” a remake of the 1953 alien movie.
His 1979 CBS miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s bestselling novel “Salem’s Lot” is considered by many fans to be a high-water mark in televisual horror. Combining the intrigue of a nighttime soap opera with the gothic atmosphere of a classic horror film, the two-part program was eventually reedited and released theatrically throughout Europe.
Horror film fans have had much to mourn this summer already. George A Romero, who created the Living Dead movie franchise, died last month at the age of 77.