Scream Horror Magazine

REMEMBERING TOBE HOOPER AT 80

Posted on: February 7th, 2024

It’s been just over 6 years since legendary genre director Tobe Hooper passed away. January 25th 2024 would’ve seen the filmmaker turn 80, so we’d like to remember him and some of his works to honour Tobe’s eighth decade.

Many people are happy to write Hooper off as a fluke, a filmmaker that had a few hits but never quite reached the heights of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre or Poltergeist again. However, whilst his subsequent films didn’t make quite such a splash financially, they’ve since gone on to be cult classics, and we’d like to highlight a few here.

TCM was always going to be a hard act to follow, and many forget Hooper did just that 3 years later with Eaten Alive. Often eclipsed by Hooper’s studio work, Eaten Alive carries much the same vibe as Chain Saw and makes a great double-feature. Neville Brand heads an ensemble cast including Marilyn Burns, Robert Englund, and Kyle Richards as a disturbed hotel owner that feeds his guests to his pet crocodile. Maintaining the ghoulishly backwoods vibe of Chain Saw, Eaten Alive seems to be Hooper having fun, knowing he’s had a hit.

Many also forget that Hooper got in on the slasher craze with his first big studio movie. 1981’s The Funhouse is a well-crafted slow-burn slasher that pays loving tribute to the monster movies of old. A lack of star power and glut of similar films meant that Hooper’s offering came and went without much notice.

Speaking of monster movies of old, Hooper had a crack at reinventing one with 1986’s Invaders from Mars. A remake of the 1953 film of the same name, the film sees Hooper and screenwriter Dan O’Bannon crafting a fun and gooey love letter to a childhood favourite. Sadly, Invaders suffered in the wake of the colossal failure of Hooper’s ambitious sci-fi vampire tale Lifeforce.

Although he is best known for his adaption of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, many tend to forget Tobe Hooper also helmed perhaps one of the most bonkers King adaptions later in his career. The Mangler is an indescribably chaotic tale about an age-old demon that inhabits a laundry press. The concept didn’t translate particularly well to screen, resulting in a disjointed tale lambasted by critics. However, with hindsight, The Mangler is now appreciated for some truly horrifying gore effects, and perhaps the most off-the-wall performance you’ll ever see from Robert Englund.

With that, we hope you’ve enjoyed this brief look back at some of Tobe Hooper’s lesser-appreciated works. We couldn’t let such a momentous birthday pass by without honouring one of the horror greats.

Rest easy, Tobe, we miss you.

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