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A Special Influence (Happy Birthday Tobe Hooper)



One of the greats of the horror genre, Tobe Hooper is a special influence for a lot of current and future filmmakers of the genre. His legacy has been set in stone, thanks to the classic 1974 slasher "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre."
The first film I saw of Mr. Hooper's was 1982's "Poltergeist," which was produced, written, (and some say co-directed by) Steven Spielberg. I was but a child so it definitely was a feat to see something so intense. And it certainly has a Spielbergian feel to it, which gave it a strange appeal. But a fantastic Hooper film that brought me as a kid more and more into the genre HORROR.
It would be later on that I would be introduced to his signature film "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," a nightmarish look at the deep, dark places of the country. Featured in this film is the movie monster Leatherface, a throwback to the old Universal Monsters. And a deserving entry at that.
It also features what I believe to be one of the greatest performances in the horror genre from the late Marilyn Burns.
It was controversial in it's day, though looking at it now it does share more with the Universal and Hammer Studios era than it does the films that it ultimately inspired. Not particularly gory, it did more with atmosphere and dread than actual blood and guts. And that's why it stands the test of time.
He also directed the insane sequel "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2," a film that shares familiar characters but it stands on it's own and is for sure it's own thing. More humorous and having that '80's vibe, it stars the wonderful Caroline Williams and the great Dennis Hopper. Maybe not the masterpiece that preceded it, but definitely a unique chapter in the legacy of Leatherface.
Tobe Hooper has given many an indie horror filmmaker (myself included) hope that they can accomplish their own slice in the genre. And for all of the technical advantages that we all have and those same advantages that he NEVER had, his accomplishments are all the more impressive.
We owe him so much. Happy birthday, Mr. Hooper.





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