Tobe Hooper

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Tobe Hooper
Massacre a la tronconneuse 40eme anniversaire Grand Rex 23 septembre 2014 - 25 (cropped).jpg
Hooper in 2014
Willard Tobe Hooper [1]

(1943-01-25)January 25, 1943
DiedAugust 26, 2017(2017-08-26) (aged 74)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
  • Director
  • screenwriter
  • producer
Years active1964–2017
Notable work
Spouse(s)Maev Margaret Noonan
(m. 1961; div. c. 1971)
Carin Berger
(m. 1983;div. 1990)

Rita Marie Bartlett
(m. 2008;div. 2010)

Willard Tobe Hooper [2] ( /ˈtbi/ ; [3] January 25, 1943 – August 26, 2017) was an American filmmaker, best known for his work in the horror genre. The British Film Institute cited Hooper as one of the most influential horror filmmakers of all time. [4]


Born in Austin, Texas, Hooper's feature film debut was the independent Eggshells (1969), which he co-wrote with Kim Henkel. The two reunited to co-write The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), which Hooper also directed. The film went on to become a classic of the genre, and was described in 2010 by The Guardian as "one of the most influential films ever made." [5] Hooper subsequently directed the horror film Eaten Alive (1976), followed by the 1979 miniseries Salem's Lot , an adaptation of the novel by Stephen King. Following this, Hooper signed on to direct The Funhouse (1981), a major studio slasher film distributed by Universal Pictures. The following year, he directed the supernatural thriller Poltergeist , written and produced by Steven Spielberg.

In the mid-1980s, Hooper directed two science fiction horror films: Lifeforce (1985) and Invaders from Mars (1986), followed by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986), a big-budget sequel to his original film. The 1990s saw Hooper directing various horror and sci-fi projects, including Spontaneous Combustion (1990), which he also co-wrote; the television anthology film Body Bags (1993); and The Mangler (1995), another adaptation of a Stephen King story.

Hooper directed several projects throughout the 2000s, including the monster film Crocodile (2000), an episode of the sci-fi miniseries Taken (2002), and two episodes of Masters of Horror (2005–2006).

Early life

Hooper was born January 25, 1943, in Austin, Texas, to Lois Belle (née Crosby) and Norman William Ray Hooper, who owned a theater in San Angelo. The film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre explores hicksploitation themes related to his childhood. [6] He first became interested in filmmaking when he used his father's 8 mm camera at the age of nine. He went to college at the University of Texas, Austin. He was present at the college on August 1, 1966, when Charles Whitman opened fire on random people from the University's clock tower, fatally shooting a police officer that was close by Hooper. [7]


Hooper spent the 1960s as a college professor[ dubious ] and documentary cameraman. [8] 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. [9] His first feature film, Eggshells (1969), was made for $40,000.

Soon after, 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 brutally hot temperatures, high humidity and limited special effects. [10] 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, despite awarding it only two out of four stars, describing it as a "weird, off-the-wall achievement." [11] It was also 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), co-written by Henkel and producers Alvin L. Fast and Mardi Rustam. As with Massacre, the film was inspired by serial killings, this time the murderer Joe Ball, who killed at least two people in the 1930s and whose crimes led to his nicknames of 'The Alligator Man' and 'The Butcher of Elmendorf'. The movie was filmed on sound-stages in California. Hooper provided the music alongside Wayne Bell - but walked off the production before shooting completed. [12]

Hooper had his biggest budget yet with the television mini-series 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 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.' Hooper then went on to make The Funhouse (1981) about teenagers who are stalked by a killer in a carnival fun-house.

In 1982, Hooper made Poltergeist , based on a story by Steven Spielberg. [13] Hooper was selected by Spielberg to direct based on his prior work, Spielberg having co-written the screenplay and co-produced the film. It was Hooper who collaborated with Spielberg to make it more of a ghost story than the original science-fiction-based treatment had been, 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 (1986). [14] Hooper also began working steadily in television.

Hooper's later works included Spontaneous Combustion (1990); the television movie I'm Dangerous Tonight (1990); and Night Terrors (1993). He directed an installment of the made-for-television feature Body Bags (1993). His works also include The Mangler (1995), The Apartment Complex (1999), Crocodile (2000), Toolbox Murders (2004), and Mortuary (2005).

Hooper was asked to contribute to the series Masters of Horror ; he responded by directing "Dance of the Dead" (2005) [15] with Robert Englund in the first season, and "The Damned Thing" [16] in the second season. [17]

In 2010, writer and actor Mark Gatiss interviewed Hooper for the third episode of his BBC documentary series A History of Horror . [18]

Hooper's first novel, Midnight Movie, was published on Three Rivers Press in 2011. [19]

His supernatural thriller film Djinn premiered at the 2013 Abu Dhabi Film Festival. [20]

Personal life

Hooper was married three times. He married his first wife, Maev Margaret Noonan, in 1961. They divorced in 1969, [21] producing one son, William Tony Hooper, who was born approximately 1966. In the Fall of 1979 issue of Cinefantastique magazine, Hooper declared "I'm divorced. I was married very young and been divorced about eight years." At the time of the interview, his son was 13 and lived with him in Los Angeles. [22] [2] [6]

Hooper married again in 1983 to Carin Berger (daughter of actor William Berger), but they divorced in 1990. He later married Rita Marie Bartlett in 2008, but they divorced in 2010.


Hooper died of natural causes in Sherman Oaks neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, on August 26, 2017, at the age of 74. [23] [2]


Filmmakers who have been influenced by Hooper include Hideo Nakata, [24] Wes Craven, [25] Rob Zombie, [26] Alexandre Aja, [27] Jack Thomas Smith, [28] Kiyoshi Kurosawa [29] and Nicolas Winding Refn. [30] Ridley Scott said that his work on Alien was influenced more by Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre than any other genre film. [31]



1969 Eggshells YesYesNoAlso editor, cinematographer, composer [32]
1970Peter Paul and Mary: The Song Is LoveYesNoNoDocumentary film, also editor and cinematographer [33]
1974 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre YesYesYesAlso composer [32]
1976 Eaten Alive YesNoNoAlso composer [34]
1981 The Funhouse YesNoNo [35]
1982 Poltergeist YesNoNo [32]
1985 Lifeforce YesNoNo [34]
1986 Invaders from Mars YesNoNo [34]
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 YesNoNoAlso composer and actor [34]
1990 Spontaneous Combustion YesYesNo [36]
1993 Night Terrors YesNoNo [34]
1995 The Mangler YesYesNo [36]
2000 Crocodile YesNoNo [32]
2004 Toolbox Murders YesNoNo [32]
2005 Mortuary YesNoNo [32]
2006 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning NoNoYes
2013 Djinn YesNoNo [32]


Executive producer


TV series

1979 Salem's Lot Miniseries [32]
1987 Amazing Stories Episode: "Miss Stardust" [37]
The Equalizer Episode: "No Place Like Home" [38]
1988 Freddy's Nightmares Episode: "No More Mr. Nice Guy" [39]
1991 Haunted Lives: True Ghost Stories Episode: "Ghosts R Us/Legend of Kate Morgan/School Spirit" [39]
Tales from the Crypt Episode: "Dead Wait" [39]
1995 Nowhere Man Episode: "Turnabout" / "Absolute Zero"' [39]
1997 Dark Skies Episode: "The Awakening" [39]
Perversions of Science Episode: "Panic" [39]
2000 The Others Episode: "Souls on Board" [39]
2002 Night Visions Episode: "Cargo" / "The Maze" [39]
Taken Episode: "Beyond the Sky" [39]
2005–2006 Masters of Horror Episodes: "Dance of the Dead" and "The Damned Thing" [39]

TV movies

1990 I'm Dangerous Tonight [39]
1993 Body Bags Co-directed with John Carpenter, and Tom Arnold, also actor [36]
1999 The Apartment Complex [40]

Music videos

1983"Dancing with Myself" Billy Idol [34]

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>The Texas Chain Saw Massacre</i> 1974 film by Tobe Hooper

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a 1974 American independent horror film produced, co-composed, and directed by Tobe Hooper, who co-wrote it with Kim Henkel. The film stars Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow, and Gunnar Hansen. The plot follows a group of friends who fall victim to a family of cannibals while on their way to visit an old homestead. The film was marketed as being based on true events to attract a wider audience and to act as a subtle commentary on the era's political climate. Although the character of Leatherface and minor story details were inspired by the crimes of murderer Ed Gein, its plot is largely fictional.

<i>The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2</i> 1986 film directed by Tobe Hooper

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a 1986 American black comedy slasher film co-composed and directed by Tobe Hooper and written by L. M. Kit Carson. It is the sequel to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and the second installment in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre film series. The film stars Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Bill Johnson, Bill Moseley, and Jim Siedow. The plot follows Vanita "Stretch" Brock, a radio host who is victimized and abducted by Leatherface and his cannibalistic family; meanwhile, Lt. Boude "Lefty" Enright, the uncle of Sally and Franklin Hardesty—both prior victims of the family—hunts them down.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chop Top</span> Fictional character

Robert Sawyer, better known as "Chop-Top" is a fictional character from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise; created by Tobe Hooper and L. M. Kit Carson, Chop-Top makes his first appearance in the film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) as one of the film's villains and the main source of its black humor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Marilyn Burns</span> American actress (1949–2014)

Marilyn Burns was an American actress. Burns was known for playing Sally Hardesty in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), which established her as a scream queen and a catalyst of the final girl trope. She reprised the role with a cameo in The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1995), and played Verna Sawyer in Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013), the latter being her last appearance in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. In 2009, she was inducted into the Horror Hall of Fame at the Phoenix Film Festival.

Paul Alan Partain was an American actor, perhaps best known for his role in the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) as the wheelchair-user Franklin Hardesty.

Night Skies is an unproduced science fiction horror film that was in development in the late 1970s. Steven Spielberg conceived the idea after Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Instead, material developed at the time was used in Poltergeist,E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Gremlins.

<i>The Texas Chainsaw Massacre</i> (2003 film) 2003 slasher film directed by Marcus Nispel

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a 2003 American slasher film directed by Marcus Nispel, written by Scott Kosar, and starring Jessica Biel, Jonathan Tucker, Erica Leerhsen, Mike Vogel, Eric Balfour, and R. Lee Ermey. Its plot follows a group of young adults traveling through rural Texas who encounter Leatherface and his murderous family. It is a remake of Tobe Hooper's 1974 film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and the fifth installment in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. Several crew members of the original film were involved with the project: Hooper and writer Kim Henkel served as co-producers, Daniel Pearl returned as cinematographer, and John Larroquette reprised his voice narration for the opening intertitles.

<i>The Funhouse</i> 1981 film directed by Tobe Hooper

The Funhouse is a 1981 American slasher film directed by Tobe Hooper, written by Larry Block and starring Elizabeth Berridge, Kevin Conway, William Finley, Cooper Huckabee, Miles Chapin, Largo Woodruff, Wayne Doba, and Sylvia Miles. The film's plot concerns four teenagers who become trapped in a dark ride at a local carnival in Iowa and are stalked by a mentally disabled murderous carnie.

<i>The Texas Chainsaw Massacre</i> (franchise) American horror franchise

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is an American horror franchise created by Kim Henkel and Tobe Hooper. It consists of nine films, comics, a novel, and two video game adaptations. The franchise focuses on the cannibalistic spree killer Leatherface and his family, who terrorize unsuspecting visitors to their territories in the desolate Texas countryside, typically killing and subsequently cooking them.

<i>Eaten Alive</i> 1976 film by Tobe Hooper

Eaten Alive is a 1976 American horror film directed by Tobe Hooper, and written by Kim Henkel, Alvin L. Fast, and Mardi Rustam.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sally Hardesty</span> Fictional Character

Sally Hardesty is a fictional character in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. She made her first appearance in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) as a young woman investigating her grandfather's grave after local grave robberies—crossing paths with Leatherface and his cannibalistic family in the process. In this film and later in The Next Generation (1995), she was portrayed by Marilyn Burns. Olwen Fouéré was cast in the sequel Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022). The character, renamed Erin Hardesty and played by Jessica Biel, also appeared in a remake of the original film in 2003.

Kim David Henkel is an American screenwriter, director, producer, and actor. He is best known as the co-writer of Tobe Hooper's horror film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

<i>Poltergeist</i> (1982 film) 1982 American supernatural horror film directed by Tobe Hooper

Poltergeist is a 1982 American supernatural horror film directed by Tobe Hooper and written by Steven Spielberg, Michael Grais, and Mark Victor from a story by Spielberg. It stars JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, and Beatrice Straight, and was produced by Spielberg and Frank Marshall. The film focuses on a suburban family whose home is invaded by malevolent ghosts that abduct their youngest daughter.

Daniel Pearl, A.S.C. is an American cinematographer who has worked on many feature films, over 400 music videos and more than 250 commercials. He is known for his cinematography work on various horror films, including The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and its 2003 remake, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007), Friday the 13th (2009), The Boy (2016) and Mom and Dad (2017).

<i>Eggshells</i> (film) 1969 American film

Eggshells is a 1969 American independent experimental film directed by Tobe Hooper in his directorial debut. Hooper, who co-wrote the film with Kim Henkel, also served as one of the film's producers. The film centers on a commune of young hippies, who slowly become aware of an otherworldly presence that resides in the basement.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Leatherface</span> Main character in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series

Leatherface is a character from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series. He first appeared in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) as the mentally disabled member of a family of deranged cannibals, featuring his face masks and chainsaw. Created by Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel, Leatherface was partially inspired by the crimes of Wisconsin murderer Ed Gein, in addition to confessions by serial killer Elmer Wayne Henley. The character has subsequently been represented in various other media, including novels, video games, and comic books; appearing in all nine films in the series.

<i>Djinn</i> (2013 film) 2013 Emirati film

Djinn is a 2013 Emirati supernatural horror film directed by Tobe Hooper and written by David Tully. It is set in the United Arab Emirates and features the djinn. The film, produced by Image Nation, is in both Arabic and English languages. The film's theatrical release has been delayed since 2011. Djinn premiered at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival on 25 October 2013.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Robert A. Burns</span> American art director and production designer

Robert A. Burns was an American art director, production designer, and actor who worked on many films including The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, The Howling, Re-Animator, and From Beyond.

<i>Butcher Boys</i> 2012 American film

Butcher Boys is a 2012 American horror cannibal film written and produced by Kim Henkel, who co-created 1974's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre with Tobe Hooper. The film was directed by Duane Graves and Justin Meeks. It was originally titled Boneboys.

The following is a list of unproduced Tobe Hooper projects in roughly chronological order. Over the course of his career, American film director Tobe Hooper had worked on a number of projects which never progressed beyond the pre-production stage under his direction. Some of these projects fell into "development hell" or were officially cancelled, while others were taken over and completed by other filmmakers.


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