Best known for his work in the horror film genre,the American film director, screenwriter, and producer William Tobe Hooper was born January 25, 1943 in Austin, Texas, the son of Lois Belle (née Crosby) and Norman William Ray Hooper, who owned a theater in San Angelo. He first became interested in filmmaking when he used his father’s 8 mm camera at age 9. Hooper took Radio-Television-Film classes at the University of Texas at Austin and studied drama in Dallas under Baruch Lumet. Hooper spent the 1960s as a college professor and documentary cameraman. His first short film The Heisters (1965) almost made it into the short subject category for an Academy Award, but was not finished in time.
He directed The low budget American horror filmThe Texas Chain Saw Massacre in 1974. It features Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns) and her paraplegic brother, Franklin (Paul A. Partain), who travel with three friends, Jerry (Allen Danziger), Kirk (William Vail), and Pam (Teri McMinn), to visit the grave of the Hardestys’ grandfather to investigate reports of vandalism and grave robbing. Afterwards, they decide to visit the old Hardesty family homestead. Along the way, they pick up a hitchhiker (Edwin Neal) who talks about his family who worked at the old slaughterhouse. He then starts causing trouble so The group eject him and drive on. They stop at a gas station to refuel, but the proprietor (Jim Siedow) tells them that the pumps are empty.
When they arrive at the homestead, Franklin tells Kirk and Pam about a local swimming-hole and the couple head off to find it. They find the swimming-hole dried up but hear a generator running in the distance. They stumble upon a nearby house. So Kirk knocks on the door When he receives no answer he enters through the unlocked door, but soon wishes he hadn’t When he meets Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) and meets a gruesome fate at the hands of Leatherface. Pam enters soon after, looking for Kirk but she also regrets it when she too encounters Leatherface and tries unsuccessfully to escape. After a while Jerry becomes increasingly concerned so heads out to look for Pam and Kirk but he also suffers a grisly fate when he encounters Leatherface. With darkness falling, Sally and Franklin also set out to find their friends however Leatherface confronts Franklin with gruesome results. Luckily Sally initially manages to escape Leatherface and flees to the gas station for help however The proprietor ties her up, gags her and drives her back to the house. The hitchhiker also arrives, and Sally finds herself attending a rather Macabre meal attended by Leatherface, The hitchhiker, Grandpa (John Dugan), and his family who all turn out to be cannibals andSally faces a a grisly fate at the hands of Leatherface, Grandpa and his family unless she can escape…
Due to the film’s violent content, Hooper struggled so he limited the quantity of onscreen gore in hopes of securing a PG rating, but the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rated it R. Upon its October 1974 release, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was banned outright in several countries, and numerous theaters later stopped showing the film in response to complaints about its violence. Tobe Hooper later directed The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 in 1986. The character of Leatherface and minor plot details were inspired by the crimes of real-life murderer Ed Gein and It is credited with originating several elements common in the slasher genre, including the use of power tools as murder weapons and the characterization of the killer as a large, hulking, faceless figure.
In 1982, Hooper also directed the enjoyable supernatural horror film Poltergeist. This was based on a story by Steven Spielberg who wrote and produced the film but was making E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial at the time and could not direct another movie. Poltergeist features the Freeling family who live a quiet life in Cuesta Verde, Orange County, California where Steven Freeling works as a successful real estate developer while Diane Freeling looks after their children Dana, Robbie, and Carol Anne. However one night Carol Anne begins acting strangely and suddenly the Earth tremors and Carol Anne announces “They’re here”. Bizarre events then start occurring: glasses break, silverware bends and furniture moves of its own accord. The phenomena seem benign at first, but quickly becomes terrifying. That night, a gnarled backyard tree grabs Robbie through the bedroom window. While Steven rescues Robbie, Carol Anne is Taken by sinister supernatural forces.
So A group of parapsychologists from UC Irvine — Dr. Lesh, Ryan, and Marty — come to the Freeling house to investigate and discover that the Freelings are experiencing a poltergeist intrusion involving more than just one ghost. Steven then discovers that Cuesta Verde is built on an ancient Native American cemetery, but rather than relocating the whole cemetary The developers just removed the headstones and left the bodies behind. So Lesh and Ryan call in Tangina Barrons, a spiritual medium to try and sort this paranormal nightmare and she states that Carol Anne has been taken by a demon known as the “Beast”. Tangina then discovers that there is an portal to another dimension through the children’s bedroom closet, while the exit is through the living room ceiling. So the group attempts to rescue Carol Anne,
Unsurprisingly the Freelings decide to move and Steven hands in his notice. Sadly though before they can leave Diane, Robbie, and Carol Anne are once again attacked by the Beast. Robbie is attacked by an inanimate clown figure while Diane is seized by an unseen malevolent force which drags her into the swimming pool and attempts to drown her. Elsewhere coffins, skeletons and rotting corpses begin erupting out from the ground in their yard and throughout the neighborhood as more spirits begin coming through the Portal and all hell breaks loose in Cuesta Verde.
Hooper’s first novel, Midnight Movie, was published on Three Rivers Press in 2011 and the supernatural thriller film Djinn premiered at the 2013 Abu Dhabi Film Festival.
Tobe Hooper sadly died on August 26, 2017 in Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, at the age of 74. Many Filmmakers have been influenced by Hooper including Hideo Nakata, Wes Craven, Rob Zombie,Alexandre Aja, Jack Thomas Smith and Director Ridley Scott who stated that Alien was influenced by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.