Tobe Hooper

Tobe Hooper

Infobox Comics creator

name = Tobe Hooper
imagesize = 250px
caption = Tobe Hooper
birthname = Willard Tobe Hooper
birthdate = birth date and age|1943|1|25
location = Austin, Texas
nationality = American
area =
alias =

notable works = "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre"
"Salem's Lot"
awards =

Tobe Hooper (born January 25, 1943) is an American director and screenwriter, best known for his work in the horror film genre, including "Salem's Lot", "Poltergeist" and the cult classic "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" (1974).


Early life and work

Hooper was born Willard Tobe Hooper in Austin, Texas, the son of Lois Belle (née Crosby) and Norman William Ray Hooper. [ [ Tobe Hooper Biography (1943-) ] ] He first used his father's 8 mm camera at age 9. Hooper spent the 1960s as a college professor and documentary cameraman. Hooper had shot over 60 documentaries, commercials and short films before making "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". In 1969 Hooper co-wrote and directed "Eggshells", about a group of hippies in a commune house having to deal with the presence of a possible supernatural force. "Eggshells" did not receive theatrical release of any kind, but did win Hooper several awards when the film played around several colleges, including the Atlanta Film Festival Award. His intention was to go to Hollywood to become a working feature film director.

"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and Hollywood

In 1974, he organized a small cast comprised of college teachers and students, and with Kim Henkel, on a budget of $60,000 (which eventually rose to $90,000 or some reports say up to even $120,000) made "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre". Hooper claims to have got the idea for "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" while standing in the hardware section of a crowded store. While thinking of a way to get through the crowd, he spotted chainsaws for sale. The highly successful film changed the horror film industry, and landed Hooper in Hollywood. Media reportings of people throwing up at the theaters and storming out of the theaters because of the film, swept the nation. Hooper wanted an MPAA PG rating for "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" (as there was no PG-13 at the time).

Hooper then received a call from Marty Rustam to direct his first Hollywood film, "Eaten Alive" (1977). Hooper and Henkel rewrote most of Rustam and Alvin Fasts' script to fit their own desires. "Eaten Alive" stars Mel Ferrer, Carolyn Jones, William Finley and Marilyn Burns (who played the lead role in "TCM"). Critics noted that Hooper tried to recreate TCM but didn't succeed in terms of intensity. Part of the reason was Hooper felt the producers were compromising his vision by wanting control over the film. For that reason Hooper left the set with three weeks left to complete principal photography. Reportedly Carolyn Jones and the editor, Michael Brown finished directing the final weeks of the film. "Eaten Alive" was re-released on DVD, September 25, 2007.

Richard Korbitz, producer of the suspenseful and acclaimed John Carpenter telefilm, "Someone's Watching Me!", hand picked Hooper to direct an adaptation of Salem's Lot, based on the novel by Stephen King. "Salem's Lot" had been hot property for a while and Hooper was attached briefly under producer William Friedkin supervision in 1977. "Salem's Lot" (1979) was Hooper's most well polished and mainstream film to date. The telefilm was well received by critics and fans alike and is generally thought of as a genre classic. "Salem's Lot" would influence other vampire films, most notably, "Fright Night" (1985) and "The Lost Boys" (1987).

Hooper was offered a script in 1981 for a project called "The Funhouse". The story revolved around four teenage friends who decide to spend the night in the funhouse of a traveling sleazy carnival. The film opened to modest box office and received mainly positive reviews. Hooper had basically the same shooting schedule as "Salem's Lot" but nowhere near the budget. The cinematography of "The Funhouse" was well praised and visually stylish. In 1981, Steven Spielberg suggested Tobe Hooper direct an alien invasion film titled "Night Skies". "Skies" would feature hostile aliens attacking a farmhouse with a family inside. However, Hooper had no interest in directing an alien invasion film since being fired from the production of another sci-fi film "The Dark" (1979). ("Night Skies" would later be softened and turned into ""). While overseeing the final stages of "The Funhouse" at Universal, Hooper moved into Robert Wise's old office. Wise had left behind a book on the supernatural and ghosts. Hooper, already interested in ghost stories and a huge fan of Wise's classic film "The Haunting" asked Spielberg about his interest in the supernatural. Spielberg, also a fan of the topic, decided to write a script for Hooper to direct. In 1982, Hooper directed "Poltergeist" for MGM, with Spielberg serving as co-writer (with Michael Grais and Mark Victor) and co-producer (with Frank Marshall) It quickly became a top-grossing motion picture. Hooper was nominated for a Saturn Award for best director. For Hooper, it looked like he would be propelled to Hollywood's A list of directors.

Cannon Films

Cannon Films offered Hooper a contract to direct three films. The first was a sci-fi thriller called "Lifeforce" about humanoid creatures from outer space who eventually cause the destruction of London. Based on the lengthy and complex novel "Space Vampires" by Colin Wilson, "Lifeforce" was produced on a then whopping budget of $25 million. Hooper was unhappy about the producers decision to change the title of the film from the "fun sounding" "Space Vampires" to the more serious "Lifeforce". Hooper was even more troubled over the producer decision to cut about 15 minutes of the film out of the US release. "Lifeforce" failed to generate more than $12 million in the US, but did well in oversea territories.

In 1986 Hooper remade both the 1950s classic "Invaders From Mars" and directed the much anticipated sequel, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2." Due to the failure of "Lifeforce", "Invaders From Mars" budget was repeatedly slashed, eventually failing at the box office, and opening to mixed reviews. "Chainsaw 2" starred Dennis Hopper and had a budget of $4 million and "Hollywood" production values (compared to the originals physically grueling shoot and microbudget). However the film failed to impress fans as it focused more on black comedy and over the top gore, rather than attempting to be actually scary. Most fans of the first Chainsaw film were disappointed at the time of the release of this film. Today, however the film has garnered a wide cult following. An uncut DVD version called The Gruesome Edition was released October 2006. It contains deleted scenes, a "making of" documentary and commentary by director Hooper and others. Out of the three Cannon films, "Chainsaw 2" was the only film too make back it's budget at the box office.

After Cannon

Hooper's career however took a deep nosedive due to the troubled productions at Cannon. In the latter 80's and much of the 90's Hooper's reputation as a boundary breaking director was questioned due to the failure of his three films made at Cannon. In all, Hooper budgets came to a little more than $40 million, with a total box office income of a mere $25 million. In 1989, Hooper had written a script treatment for a third "Texas Chainsaw" film, but never developed it further to focus on "Spontaneous Combustion" (1990), a paranoid thriller starring notable actor Brad Dourif of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Child's Play". Zachary Selig, a renowned artist and spiritist, was a paranormal consultant for the film. Shot on a budget of around $5 million, Hooper admits constant rewrites and producer restraints kept this from becoming the hit it could have been. Dourif said "Hooper could have had three different films from what we shot". Having barely played in theaters, Hooper's next film "Night Terrors" wouldn't be so lucky. "Night Terrors" went straight to video and is considered to be Hooper's worst film. Hooper would ride the decade out with two other poorly received films, "The Mangler" (1995) and "Crocodile" in 2000. Notable TV pojects include acclaimed pilots for 1995's "Nowhere Man" and 1996's "Dark Skies". Hooper also directed the pilot episode for "Freddy's Nightmares", as well an episode of "Tales From the Crypt", "John Carpenter's Body Bags" (1993), and the telefilms "I'm Dangerous Tonight" (1990) and "The Apartment Complex" (1999).

Recent work

In 2002, Hooper directed the pilot for the acclaimed miniseries "Taken". It was announced that New Line Cinema and Michael Bay would be remaking Hooper's cult classic "Texas Chainsaw Massacre". In early 2003, Hooper himself remade a 70's film "Toolbox Murders". Hooper also served as producer on Michael Bay's 2003 remake of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", which became a box office success, grossing $120 million worldwide. Hooper also directed 2 episodes (2005, 2006) for Showtime's series, "Masters of Horror". This show allowed Hooper and other directors "final cut" and no producer or outside interference. He served as producer on the remake prequel, "". In late 2006, Hooper talked about possibly producing a TV series, "Texas Chainsaw Chronicles". No details have emerge on this series. In summer 2008, Kim Henkel )co-writer of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and writer-director of the fourth installment, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation), announced he would write and direct a new Chainsaw film set in present day. No word if Hooper is involved in this possible remake.

Tobe Hooper started his own film production company, called T.H. Nightmares in 2004. No films have emerged under this banner.

Tobe Hooper is currently in pre-production on an adaptation of "From A Buick 8" based on the Stephen King novel. Mick Garris (executive producer of "Masters of Horror") will serve as a producer on the film. In 2007, Hooper was attached to two films, Training Ground and Tequila Joe. No details have emerged on these two films since late 2007.

Hooper regularly cites Brian DePalma, Stanley Kubrick, and Ridley Scott as his favorite directors.

Many horror and indie filmmakers have expressed admiration for Hooper's work, including Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, Guillermo Del Toro, Sam Raimi and Quentin Tarantino.


* "Eggshells" (1969)
* "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" (1974)
* "Eaten Alive" (1977)
* "Salem's Lot" (1979)
* "The Funhouse" (1981)
* "Poltergeist" (1982)
* "Lifeforce" (1985)
* "Invaders from Mars" (1986)
* "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" (1986)
* "Spontaneous Combustion" (1990)
* "I'm Dangerous Tonight" (1990)
* "Night Terrors" (1993)
* "Body Bags" (1993)
* "The Mangler" (1995)
* "The Apartment Complex" (1999)
* "Crocodile" (2000)
* "Toolbox Murders " (2004)
* "Dance of the Dead" (2005)
* "Mortuary" (2006)
* "The Damned Thing (Masters of Horror)" (2006)
* "Training Ground" (2009)
* "From A Buick 8" (2009)


External links

* [ Official Website] (coming soon)
*imdb name | id = 0001361 | name = Tobe Hooper
* [ Tobe Hooper Movie Trailers]

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