The horror world lost a legend yesterday. Tobe Hooper, the director of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Salem’s Lot, Poltergeist, and Lifeforce, died in Sherman Oaks, California at the age of 74. The news came form the Los Angels County Coroner, but the cause of death is not known.
His work on the 1974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre film set the standard for a slasher films with a gritty, realistic approach. Hooper made the film for only $300,000 and it turned out to be one of the most profitable independent films of the ’70s. It also gave us the iconic horror figure of Leatherface, who was loosely based on serial killer Ed Gein. Hooper returned in 1986 for the sequel, which had a more comedic approach by comparison.
In 1982, Hooper went on to work with Steven Spielberg on another horror classic, Poltergeist. A haunted house story starring Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams that ended up being the eight highest grossing film of the year. Both Poltergeist and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 were part of a deal he had with Cannon Films that also included the 1985 Lifeforce and the 1986 Invasion from Mars, which remade the 1953 B-movie of the same name.
Hooper also did some television work in the ’70s and ’80s, directing the adaptation of Stephen King’s Salem Lot as a CBS miniseries and working on television series like Amazing Stories and the Equalizer. In his later years he continued directing, working on Toolbox Murders, Mortuary and two episodes of Masters of Horror. In 2011 he co-wrote Midnight Movie and appeared as the main character. His final film was the 2013 film Djinn, about a Emirati couple that discover their new home was built site of some malevolent beings.
He also directed the Dancing With Myself video for Billy Idol.
Hooper was born in Austin Texas and started off doing documentaries before making the jump to horror. He is survived by two sons.