Tobe Hooper, the horror director best known for helming “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and “Poltergeist,” died Saturday in Sherman Oaks, Calif., according to the Los Angeles County Coroner. He was 74. The circumstances of his death were 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. Though it was banned in several countries for violence, it was one of the most profitable independent films of the 1970s in the U.S. The character of Leatherface was loosely based on serial killer Ed Gein.
The Austin, Texas born Hooper spent the 1960s as a college professor and documentary cameraman. His short film The Heisters (1965) was invited to be entered in the short subject category for an Academy Award, but was not finished in time for the competition that year. He directed The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in 1974. He later directed The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 in 1986. In 1982, Hooper directed Poltergeist, which was based on a story by Steven Spielberg. He also directed cult Scifi film Lifeforce. Another horror film was the Mangler, based on a story by Stephen King. In October 2009, Twisted Pictures, the company behind the Saw films, bought the rights to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and made a new Chainsaw film in 3D, Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013).
In 2010, writer and actor Mark Gatiss interviewed the director for his BBC documentary series A History of Horror; Hooper appeared in the third episode. Hooper’s first novel, Midnight Movie, was published on Three Rivers Press in 2011. His supernatural thriller film Djinn premiered at the 2013 Abu Dhabi Film Festival. In May 2017, Tobe Hooper was attacked by a former girlfriend. Director Ridley Scott has stated that his work on Alien was influenced by Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre more than any other B-level genre product.