Tobe Hooper
Hooper in September 2014

Willard Tobe Hooper

[create] Documentation
-25)25, 1943
Austin, Texas, U.S.

26, 2017(2017-8

[create] Documentation
-26) (aged 74
[create] Documentation
Sherman Oaks, California, U.S.
Occupation Director, screenwriter, producer
Years active 1964–2017
Notable work The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Poltergeist
Spouse(s) Carin Berger (m. 1983; d. 1990)
Rita Marie Bartlett (m. 2008; d. 2010)}
Children 1
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Willard Tobe Hooper[lower-alpha 1][2] (January 25, 1943 – August 26, 2017) was an American director, screenwriter, and producer best known for his work in the horror genre. Among his most recognized films are The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), which The Guardian described as "one of the most influential films ever made", and Poltergeist (1982), which received three Academy Award nominations.

Hooper died in 2017 at the age of 74 of natural causes.

Early lifeEdit

Hooper was born in Austin, Texas, to Lois Belle (née Crosby) and Norman William Ray Hooper,[3] who owned a theater in San Angelo. The films Texas Chainsaw Massacre explores hicksploitation themes related to his childhood.[4] He first became interested in filmmaking when he used his father's 8 mm camera at the age of nine. Hooper took Radio-Television-Film classes at the University of Texas at Austin and studied drama in Dallas under Baruch Lumet.[5]


Hooper spent the 1960s as a college professor and documentary cameraman.[6] His 1965 short film The Heisters 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.[5]

Hooper's first feature film, Eggshells (1969), was made for $40,000.

Hooper leapt to fame with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). He combined elements from a story he wrote about isolation and darkness with the inspiration of graphic news coverage of violence, with his belief that people were the true monsters being a key element for the film. Along with Kim Henkel, they co-wrote a screenplay that had elements based on the murders of Ed Gein and Elmer Wayne Henley while forming a company named Vortex, Inc. They produced the film alongside Jay Parsley and Richard Saenz. The low budget (roughly less than $140,000) meant that the film was shot seven days a week, having shooting times up to 16 hours a day, dealing with warm temperatures and limited special effects. Hooper had to deal with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) with the rating; he had hoped the limited amount of gore seen in the film would give it a PG, but the original print was given an X rating. After some cuts, it was given an R rating. The film was cited as one of the scariest films of all time, with film critic Roger Ebert described it as a "weird, off-the-wall achievement"[7] The film was a huge commercial success, making $30 million in the United States and Canada while being one of the highest grossing independent films of the 1970s.

Hooper's next film was Eaten Alive (1976). The film was co-written by Henkel and producers Alvin L. Fast and Mardi Rustam. Like with Massacre, the film was inspired by serial killings, this time the murderer Joe Ball, who killed at least two people in the 1930s that led to his nicknames of "The Alligator Man" and "The Butcher of Elmendorf". The film was filmed on sound-stages in California. Hooper provided the music alongside Wayne Bell. He walked off the production before shooting completed.[8]

Hooper had his biggest budget yet with the TV version of Salem's Lot (1979), filmed on a budget of $4 million for CBS while being released theatrically in some countries. It was a screening of Massacre that led producer Richard Kobritz to hire Hooper as director. He shot the film from July to August 1979, although the film differed from the source material, particularly with the violence and graphic scenes in order to meet broadcast standards. He described it as "very spooky - it suggests things and always has the overtone of the grave. It affects you differently than my other horror films. It's more soft-shelled...It has atmosphere which creates something you cannot escape - the reminder that our time is limited and all the accoutrements that go with it, such as the visuals."

He then went on to make The Funhouse (1981).

In 1982, Hooper made Poltergeist, based on a story by Steven Spielberg.[9] Hooper was selected to direct based on his prior work by Steven Spielberg, who co-wrote the screenplay and co-produced the film. It was Hooper who collaborated with Spielberg to make it more of a ghost story than one with the sci-fi elements the original treatment had, as it had originally been conceived as a sequel to Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Cannon Films approached Hooper with the offer of a three-picture deal. He made Lifeforce (1985), Invaders from Mars (1986) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1987).[10] Hooper also began working steadily in television.

Hooper's later work included Spontaneous Combustion (1990); I'm Dangerous Tonight (1990), a TV movie; and Night Terrors (1993). He directed an installment of Body Bags (1993) and did The Mangler (1995), The Apartment Complex (1999), Crocodile (2000), Toolbox Murders (2004), and Mortuary (2005).

Hooper was asked to contribute to the Masters of Horror series; he directed "Dance of the Dead" (2005)[11] with Robert Englund in the first season, and "The Damned Thing"[12] in the second season.[13]

In 2010, writer and actor Mark Gatiss interviewed Hooper for his BBC documentary series A History of Horror; Hooper appeared in the third episode.[14]

Hooper's first novel, Midnight Movie, was published on Three Rivers Press in 2011.[15]

His supernatural thriller film Djinn premiered at the 2013 Abu Dhabi Film Festival.[16]

Personal lifeEdit

Tobe had one son, William Tony Hooper.[2][4]


Hooper died of natural causes in Sherman Oaks, California, on August 26, 2017, at the age of 74.[17][2]


Filmmakers who have been influenced by Hooper include Hideo Nakata,[18] Wes Craven,[19] Rob Zombie,[20] Alexandre Aja,[21] and Jack Thomas Smith.[22] Director Ridley Scott has stated that his work on Alien was influenced more by Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre than any other B-level genre film.[23]




Music videosEdit



  1. His given name is pronounced /ˈtbi/[1]


  1. "Say How?". Library of Congress. Retrieved 7 September 2018. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Saperstein, Pat (2017-08-27). "Tobe Hooper, ‘Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ and ‘Poltergeist’ Director, Dies at 74" (in en-US). Variety. 
  3. "Tobe Hooper Biography (1943-)". Retrieved 28 August 2017. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Gilbey, Ryan (2017-08-28). "Tobe Hooper obituary" (in en-GB). The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Alison Macor. Chainsaws, Slackers, and Spy Kids 30 Years of Filmmaking in Austin, Texas University of Texas Press: Austin, 2010.
  6. Mumford, Gwilym (27 August 2017). "Tobe Hooper, Texas Chainsaw Massacre director, dies at 74". Retrieved 28 August 2017. 
  7. Ebert, Roger. "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Movie Review (1974) - Roger Ebert". Retrieved 20 April 2019. 
  8. Muir, John Kenneth (2002) (in en). Eaten Alive at a Chainsaw Massacre: The Films of Tobe Hooper. McFarland. p. 68. ISBN 9781476613352. Retrieved 21 May 2017. 
  9. Canby, Vincent (June 4, 1982). "Movie Review – Poltergeist (1982)". The New York Times. 
  10. Gayne, Zach (March 18, 2014). "SXSW 2014 Interview: THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE Director Tobe Hooper Talks His Legacy of Unspeakable Horror". Twitch Film. Archived from the original on July 10, 2015. 
  11. "Dance of the Dead". Retrieved 20 April 2019. 
  12. "The Damned Thing". Retrieved 20 April 2019. 
  13. "Masters of Horror". Retrieved 20 April 2019. 
  14. "A History of Horror with Mark Gatiss – Q&A with Mark Gatiss". BBC. Retrieved November 12, 2010. 
  15. Bowen, Chuck (August 4, 2011). "The Formulaic Shock and Awe of Tobe Hooper's Midnight Movie". Slant Magazine. 
  16. Adams, Mark (October 25, 2013). "Djinn – Reviews – Screen". Screen International. 
  17. Genzlinger, Neil (August 27, 2017). "Tobe Hooper, Director of 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,' Dies at 74". The New York Times. 
  18. Bradshaw, Peter (October 30, 2008). "Ring". The Guardian.
  19. Burton, Felicity (August 7, 2015 ). "THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977): Film Review". Scream.
  20. Eggstern, Chris (October 30, 2015). "Rob Zombie gave us his Top 10 horror movies – and there's one surprising omission". HitFix.
  21. Sélavy, Virginie (May 1, 2008). "INTERVIEW WITH XAVIER MENDIK". Electric Sheep.
  22. Wien, Gary (October 19, 2014). "Infliction: An Interview With Jack Thomas Smith". Jason L Koerner, "100 Acres of Hell". New Jersey Stage.
  23. Anderson, Martin (March 30, 2012). "The Russian heritage for Ridley Scott's Prometheus?" Script error. Shadowlocked.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 24.4 24.5 24.6 24.7 24.8 "Tobe Hooper, Texas Chainsaw Massacre director, dies at 74". The Guardian. August 27, 2017. Retrieved August 28, 2017. 
  25. Lewis, Anne (December 3, 1999). "No Ordinary Folk". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved August 28, 2017. 
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 26.4 26.5 "Tobe Hooper, director of Texas Chain Saw Massacre, dead at 74". CBS News. August 28, 2017. Retrieved August 28, 2017. 
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 Brown, Phil (August 28, 2017). "Remembering Tobe Hooper, The Texas Chainsaw Master". Retrieved August 28, 2017. 
  28. Rios, Taylor (August 27, 2017). "Tobe Hooper Dead: ‘Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ And ‘Poltergeist’ Director Dies At 74". Inquisitr. Retrieved August 27, 2017. 
  29. "Amazing Stories". Retrieved August 28, 2017. 
  30. Sobczynski, Peter (August 27, 2017). "Tobe Hooper: 1943–2017". Retrieved August 28, 2017. 
  31. 31.00 31.01 31.02 31.03 31.04 31.05 31.06 31.07 31.08 31.09 31.10 "Tobe Hooper Filmography". Retrieved August 28, 2017. 

External linksEdit

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