Remembering a Master of Horror by what he did best.
Yesterday, Tobe Hooper, director of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist (billed, at least), and Lifeforce passed away. While a lot of film fans will tell you that modern horror filmmaking began with Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, I’m of the school of thought that Rosemary’s was actually the end of classic horror, and it was Hooper’s Massacre that birthed the next phase of the genre, which became dominated by single villains, sometimes supernatural, sometimes just beyond the scope of expected evil, whose motivations were primal, vicious, and merciless.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was also an innovation of independent cinema on par with Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider in terms of industrial and narrative impact, as well as the first significant film to emerge out of Austin, Texas, which has since fostered a long line of accomplished filmmakers like Richard Linklater, Terrence Malick, and Wes Anderson, and has become the unofficial Hollywood of independent cinema, hosting a handful of film festivals annually, including the very influential SXSW.
Bottom line, Hooper is one of those filmmakers whose legacy will live on not just in his own work, but also in certain work that came after him. Jason, Freddie, Michael Myers, and every other cinematic bogeyman from the 80s and beyond all emerged from Leatherface’s shadow. When they carve that Mount Rushmore of horror, you better believe Hooper will be up there.
In the following video put together after Hooper’s passing by the great Catherine Grant, Hooper is remembered with three scenes – two from Salem’s Lot and one from Poltergeist – that delightfully terrified the essayist. This, I believe, is the best way to convey not grief when an artist passes, but appreciation: through the work.
Godspeed, sir, and thanks for the scares.
Related Topics: Tobe Hooper