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Tobe Hooper is an American filmmaker born in Austin, Texas on January 25th, 1943. Hooper has directed several films and television episodes in the horror genre, but he is best known for creating the cult classic, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

The son of a theater owner, Hooper's interest in filmmaking began at the age of nine and he eventually began attending classes at the University of Texas at Austin. After studying drama and Radio-Television Film, Hooper became an instructor and documentary cameraman, working on various industrial films, as was common amongst many up-and-coming filmmakers of that time. It was in the late 1960s that Hooper met an aspiring film student named Kim Henkel and the two became close friends. Henkel collaborated with Hooper on several projects and would prove to be a vital component on Tobe's most controversial project.

Film career Edit

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Tobe's first known work was a film short shot at the University of Texas at Austin called The Heisters. Shot in 1965, it was invited to be entered in the short subject category for an Oscar, but was not finished in time for the competition that year. In 1969, Tobe directed, wrote and produced his first professional film work, Eggshells. Although not a horror film in the strictist sense, Hooper's "Time and Spaced Film Fantasy" did incorporate several elements of the supernatural. Eggshells did not receive a theatrical release, but did win Hooper several awards, including the Atlanta Film Festival Award, when the film played around different colleges.

Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel went on create their own independent production company Vortex, Inc. with Kim serving as president and Tobe as vice-president. Through Vortex, Henkel and Hooper made horror film history with a low-budget movie operating under the working title Headcheese. It eventually came to be known as the The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The film was made on a budget of $83,532, $60,000 of which was invested by Bill Parsley, a friend of Tobe Hooper's. Henkel and Hooper drew inspiration for the film from a variety of sources, not the least of which was Ed Gein, the notorious serial killer from Plainfield, Wisconsin. The film involved a family of vicious cannibalistic killers who terrorize a group of traveling youths in Muerto County, Texas. The film is best known for the introduction of the character of Leatherface, a chainsaw wielding maniac who skins his victims' faces and wears them as masks. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was Hooper's first theatrically released film, but was not regarded favorably by critics, many of whom refused to even watch it. Hooper has cited the impact of changes in the cultural and political landscape as central influences on the film. His intentional misinformation that the "film you are about to see is true" was a response to being "lied to by the government about things that were going on all over the world", including Watergate, the gasoline crisis, and "the massacres and atrocities in the Vietnam War". [1]

Hooper's next film was the low-budget 1977 horror movie Eaten Alive. The film starred Neville Brand as Judd, the proprietor of a sleazy motel in the swamps of Elmendorf, Louisiana, who would feed his customers to his pet alligator. The movie is notable for being the first genre role for actor Robert Englund, who would go on to become a horror film legend in the role of nightmare man Freddy Krueger in the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. Although Eaten Alive contained similar elements to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, it failed to capture the same degree of cult status with movie goers, though it did eventually develop a small cult following in it's own right. As with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Eaten Alive was loosely inspired by actual events. The character of Judd was based on Joe Ball, a bar owner from Elmendorf, Texas, who entertained his guests with an alligator pit in the back of the bar. During the prohibition era, several murders of women took place and their bodies were never discovered. Ball became a suspect, but it was never proven that the flesh found in the pit was human. [2]

Body of work Edit

Film Edit

Film Year Role
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 1974 Director; Producer; Writer; Composer; Additional photography
Eaten Alive 1977 Director; Composer
Salem's Lot 1979 Director
The Funhouse 1981 Director
Poltergeist 1982 Director
Lifeforce 1985 Director
Invaders from Mars 1986 Director
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 1986 Director; Co-producer; Composer; Actor
Spontaneous Combustion 1990 Director; Writer
Sleepwalkers 1992 Actor
Night Terrors 1993 Director
Body Bags ("Eye") 1993 Director; Actor
The Mangler 1995 Director; Writer
Crocodile 2000 Director
Shadow Realm ("The Maze") 2002 Director
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003 Co-producer
Toolbox Murders 2004 Director
Mortuary 2005 Director
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning 2006 Producer
Destiny Express Redux 2009 DirectorWriter
Djinn  2013 Director
Texas Chainsaw 3D 2013 Executive producer

Television Edit

Series Year Role
Freddy's Nightmares: No More Mr. Nice Guy 1988 Director
Tales from the Crypt: Dead Wait 1991 Director
The Others: Souls on Board 2000 Director
Night Visions: The Maze 2002 Director
Night Visions: Cargo 2002 Director
Masters of Horror: Dance of the Dead 2005 Director
Masters of Horror: The Damned Thing 2006 Director

Notes & Trivia Edit

  • Tobe Hooper made a cameo appearance in the 1992 film Sleepwalkers, playing a Forensics technician.
  • Tobe Hooper made a cameo appearance in the 1993 anthology film Body Bags, playing morgue worker #2 in the film's opening and closing sequences.

External links Edit

References Edit

  1. Hooper, Tobe. (2008). Tobe Hooper Interview. [DVD]. Dark Sky Films
  2. IMDB; Eaten Alive (1977); Trivia


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