RIP Tobe Hooper
In just a few short years, we have lost a Holy Trinity of horror directors who mightily impacted the genre for generations and generations to come. Wes Craven passed away a few years ago, followed by George A. Romero only a mere month or so ago. Then yesterday Tobe Hooper passed away. Wes Craven showed a humanized version to horror, telling us that the monster may not be under the bed, but inside the darkest corners of ALL our hearts. George A. Romero gave rise to zombies, and used them as a metaphor for our culture and society. Tobe Hooper? He played with various aspects of the horror genre, and pushed them into the modern era.
There have only been a handful of horror movies that gave me such a striking reaction that I barely slept the night of viewing. One of the films that gave me one of my earliest sleepless nights was Tobe Hooper's "Texas Chainsaw Massacre." I figured I'd seen everything the slasher movie had to offer. I thought the movie would be fun, but I didn't expect to be so scared I couldn't sleep. There is lots that happens in "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" that the audience doesn't see, take the first killing and abduction of the teenager who walks into Leatherface's house. It works because its a movie that plunges its audience into the minds of the killers, we really see how they work as a family unit. We see it through the POV of one of the characters, and we can feel their terror. For a movie called "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," its an incredibly bloodless film, it is a movie that is surprisingly all about the terror. Someone also pointed out one time that the movie has several scenes of horror images during the day. Usually in these movies, the monsters come out at night, in "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," the monsters came around at all hours.
Another film Tobe Hooper directed is the equally terrifying "Poltergeist." No, I am not talking about that corporate, sucky remake from a couple years ago. I am talking about the original with Craig T. Nelson. A movie filled with scares, both big and small. I think its amazing that Hooper was able to create an image as popular and terrible as the infamous clown scene, and one as small as a group of chairs standing in a strange order on a table and both could come off so frightening. "Poltergeist" couldn't have been more different than "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," and if you stick them next to each other, it doesn't look like they were directed by the same person. Most directors, no matter how gifted they are, cast the same signature on all their movies, despite the genre they fall under. It seemed like Hooper brought a new bag of tricks to each movie he made.
Of course since Tobe Hooper was such a great horror director, he was going to be involved in something Stephen King related. "Salem's Lot" may have been a made-for-television affair, but there is no denying how much terror Hooper was able to pack into a television enterprise. The make-up was very reminiscent of "Nosferatu" from the silent era, he still was able to make it eerie. It also features one of the very best boo-scares ever.
There aren't too many early masters of horror left, but there is no doubt that Tobe Hooper left his mark on the horror genre for many years to come. And not, would you believe me if I told you that he directed the music video for Billy Idol's "Dancing With Myself?"