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The Funhouse DVD Tobe Hooper, director of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," (1974) proves his mastery of... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

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Also Known As: William Tobe Hooper Died:
Born: January 25, 1943 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Austin, Texas, USA Profession: director, screenwriter, producer, model maker, musician, special visual effects creator, actor, composer, photographer, educator

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Though he worked in the horror and dark fantasy genres for decades, writer and director Tobe Hooper made significant contributions to the genre with just two films: "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1974) and "Poltergeist" (1982).Though produced under very different circumstances - the former was an ultra-low-budget exploitation potboiler while the latter was a major studio spectacular - both films were major commercial successes that reflected the zeitgeist of their day. Surprisingly, neither had quite the salutary effect on Hooper's career as one might have expected. Following "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," Hooper had trouble finding his Hollywood footing with "Eaten Alive" (1977) and "The Funhouse" (1981), before being handed the reigns to "Poltergeist" by producer Steven Spielberg. But that proved to be more of a burden than a blessing, particularly after the film released and became a huge success - several cast members and crew claimed that Spielberg was the true director of the film, having exerted creative control over Hooper. Subsequently dismissed, Hooper entered into a disastrous period, directing three straight flops for Cannon Pictures after signing an ill-fated deal. With his feature...

Though he worked in the horror and dark fantasy genres for decades, writer and director Tobe Hooper made significant contributions to the genre with just two films: "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1974) and "Poltergeist" (1982).Though produced under very different circumstances - the former was an ultra-low-budget exploitation potboiler while the latter was a major studio spectacular - both films were major commercial successes that reflected the zeitgeist of their day. Surprisingly, neither had quite the salutary effect on Hooper's career as one might have expected. Following "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," Hooper had trouble finding his Hollywood footing with "Eaten Alive" (1977) and "The Funhouse" (1981), before being handed the reigns to "Poltergeist" by producer Steven Spielberg. But that proved to be more of a burden than a blessing, particularly after the film released and became a huge success - several cast members and crew claimed that Spielberg was the true director of the film, having exerted creative control over Hooper. Subsequently dismissed, Hooper entered into a disastrous period, directing three straight flops for Cannon Pictures after signing an ill-fated deal. With his feature directing career in tatters, he found new life on the small screen, directing made-for-television horror movies as well as episodes of "Nowhere Man" (UPN, 1995-96), "Dark Skies" (NBC, 1996-97) and "Masters of Horror" (Showtime, 2005-07). A popular artist who once changed the face of horror, Hooper devolved into a struggling, work-for-hire director who nonetheless maintain a high-level of craftsmanship in all of his work.

Born on Jan. 25, 1943 in Austin, TX, Hooper was raised by his father, Norman, who owned a theater in San Angelo, and his mother, Lois. He took his first strides toward becoming a filmmaker at nine years old after discovering his father's 8mm camera, which he used to make his own movies. By the time he was a teenager, Hooper had completed "The Abyss" (1959), his first short film with sound. With a number of shorts soon to follow, Hooper's childhood hobby soon became a job when he broke into professional filmmaking as a commercial and industrial film director. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Hooper worked steadily as a documentary filmmaker, churning out some 60-odd films in that time. In 1968, he gained considerable exposure for directing a documentary on the folk trio "Peter, Paul and Mary" for PBS. Turning to narrative feature filmmaking, Hooper directed the Hippie-themed "Eggshells (An American Freak Odyssey)" (1969), a supernatural movie about the decline of the peace movement that gained attention after winning an award at the Atlanta Film Festival, but ultimately failed to find a theatrical release.

Hooper turned up before the camera as a supporting player in "The Windsplitter" (1971), another period piece in the "Easy Rider" (1969) vein, before returning to making documentaries and industrial films. But he soon made his breakthrough with "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1974), which garnered him both celebrity and a great degree of notoriety while completely changing the face of horror movies. One of the key works in 1970s horror cinema, the film was a grueling exercise in nightmarish terror. A group of hapless and notably unpleasant teens run astray of a degenerate family of unemployed slaughterhouse workers with a taste for tourists. Despite its notoriously evocative title, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" served its thrills with very little blood, but loads of cinematic panache. Even those who dismissed it as sadistic exploitation had to concede that Hooper had crafted a compelling film. The washed out colors contributed to its raw documentary feel while the overactive camera became an active participant in the mayhem. Generally noted for its emotional intensity and unsettling nihilism, the grisly work of art received praise from critics for its jet black satire of class and familial relations. Produced on location in Texas for an exceedingly modest $155,000, the film reportedly grossed as much as $50 million. Due to the vagaries of distribution practices, Hooper received only a fraction of his contractual share of the profits. Nonetheless, he had made a name for himself and prepared the way for what he thought would be a lucrative Hollywood career.

Despite the overwhelming success of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," Hooper entered a period of creative frustration. He completed his next film, "Eaten Alive" (1977), but the producers changed the shape of his conception by recutting the film. Poorly promoted and distributed, the finished film featured stalwart character player Neville Brand as a crazed swamp dweller with a hook hand who feeds unsuspecting tourists to his alligator - a plot inspired by real-life serial killer, Joe Ball, who allegedly did the same to over 20 women in the 1930s. Hooper was subsequently fired from his next two feature assignments "The Dark" (1979) and "Venom" (1981). In between these twin disappointments, he enjoyed his most trouble-free Hollywood project: a two-part, four-hour TV miniseries based on Stephen King's modern day vampire tale "Salem's Lot" (CBS, 1979). Many fans of the horror novelist considered Hooper's version among the best King adaptations. The miniseries was re-edited and released theatrically in Europe. He next directed "The Funhouse" (1981), a stylish concession to the slasher movie craze which he helped initiate about four teenagers trapped in said funhouse and hunted down by a deranged killer. But like "Eaten Alive" before it, the movie fell victim to studio interference.

Hooper's fortunes seemed to change when he was hired by Steven Spielberg to helm the big-budget horror feature "Poltergeist" (1982), which Spielberg had written and was set to produce. Set in a decidedly Spielbergian suburb, the supernatural thriller told the story of a yuppie family (headed by Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams) who discover that that their house is possessed by spirits after their youngest daughter (Heather O'Rourke) begins communicating with them through the television. But when she gets kidnapped by the ghosts, the parents hire a spiritualist (Zelda Rubenstein) to cleanse their home and find their daughter. A crowd-pleasing, visual effects-laden spectacle that was typical of the top-grossing genre product of the early 1980s, "Poltergeist" brought the ghost story into the modern blockbuster era. Despite its resounding commercial, critical and cultural success, Hooper was dismissed by some as not being the film's true auteur, thanks to quotes from several cast and crew members that suggested Spielberg had a heavy hand in the creative direction of the film. Other cast and crew came to Hooper's defense, while Spielberg himself printed a letter in The Hollywood Reporter affirming Hooper as the director, as well as their "rather unique, creative relationship." But the damage had been done. The success of the film should have catapulted Hooper's career, but instead led to years of torment and mediocrity. The film did, however, spawn two sequels, a television series and an urban legend involving an alleged curse around the cast members, some of whom - namely O'Rourke and eldest daughter played by Dominique Dunne - died prematurely.

Dissatisfied by the scripts he was receiving, Hooper opted to helm the music video "Dancing With Myself" (1984) for Brit rocker Billy Idol. Also that year, he entered into an ill-fated three picture deal with Cannon Pictures, which resulted in a series of flops and virtually ended his career as a big-budget filmmaker. The first - the lavishly produced "Lifeforce" (1985) - was a tongue-in-cheek evocation of Great Britain's Hammer horror series and the apocalyptic "Quatermass" films. Though satiric in its approach, the rather bizarre sci-fi horror never connected with audiences. Next up was a well-appointed remake of the 1953 sci-fi classic "Invaders from Mars" (1986). Reviewers deemed it pleasant, albeit pointless, while audiences steered clear and led to box office disappointment. Hoping that lightning would strike twice, Hooper shepherded "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2" (1986) to the screen with unfortunately disappointing results. Focusing more on mindless gore than genuine suspense, the second "Chainsaw" film was reviled by fans and failed to help restore his reputation. Hooper's next outing, "Spontaneous Combustion" (1989), barely made it into the multiplexes before finding its true home on a video store shelf. Meanwhile, the Israeli-lensed "Tobe Hooper's Night Terrors," an erotic horror flick shot in 1992, failed to receive an American release before arriving in the U.K. straight-to-video in 1994.

Returning to Stephen King country for "The Mangler" (1995), Hooper suffered both critical and commercial neglect in this poorly received horror flick starring Robert Englund as a professional launderer in possession of an evil laundry press. Fortunately television came to the rescue and offered Hooper a creative avenue. Having already directed for the small screen with "Salem's Lot" and "I'm Dangerous Tonight" (USA Network, 1990), he began directing episodes of horror and dark fantasy shows like "Nowhere Man" (UPN, 1995-96) and the UFO drama "Dark Skies" (NBC, 1996-97). After helming the suspenseful cable dark comedy "The Apartment Complex" (Showtime, 1999), Hooper unsuccessfully returned to features with "Crocodile" (2000), a straight-to-video schlock thriller about eight teens getting systematically eaten by a giant croc that was later shown on the USA Network. Meanwhile, Hopper directed the pilot episode of the Steven Spielberg-produced, sci-fi miniseries, "Taken" (Sci Fi, 2002), before serving as the producer on the remake of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (2003) and the prequel "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning" (2006). Returning to television, he directed two episodes of the short-lived series, "Masters of Horror" (Showtime, 2005-07).

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Djinn (2012)
2.
  Mortuary (2006)
3.
  Crocodile (2000) Director
4.
  Apartment Complex, The (1999) Director
5.
  Mangler, The (1995) Director
6.
7.
  John Carpenter Presents Body Bags (1993) Director ("Eye")
8.
  I'm Dangerous Tonight (1990) Director
9.
  Spontaneous Combustion (1989) Director
10.
  Invaders From Mars (1986) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
 Stephen King's Sleepwalkers (1992) Forensic Tech
4.
 American Nightmare, The (2000) Interviewee
5.
 Anatomy of Horror (1995) Interviewee
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Began making movies at age nine after discovering his father's 8mm camera
1959:
Made first short (with sound), "The Abyss"
1963:
Directed short entitled "Heisters"
:
Directed award-winning short film, "Down Friday Street"
:
Broke into professional filmmaking via commericals and industrials
1968:
Directed a PBS documentary on the folk trio, "Peter, Paul, and Mary"; first produced effort
1969:
Feature debut as producer, director and screenwriter, "Eggshells (An American Freak Odyssey)", a story about the decline of the peace movement; won award at the Atlanta Film Festival but failed to find a distributor
1971:
Feature acting debut, "The Windsplitter"
1974:
Gained notoriety by directing, producing, co-writing (with Kim Hendel), and score composer (with Wayne Bell) the horror/exploitation classic, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"; produced on a budget of $155,000, went on to reputedly gross $50 million (reports vary considerably) but, due to complications with distribution, its maker received only a fraction of his contractual share
1976:
Completed second feature "Eaten Alive/Death Trap/Legend of the Bayou/Horror Hotel/Starlight Slaughter" (directed; wrote story; composed score); had extreme creative differences with the producers who recut the film
1979:
Fired as the helmer of a feature entitled "The Dark"; replaced by John Bud Carlos
1979:
TV directing debut, directed the well-received CBS miniseries "Salem's Lot", the first TV adaptation of a Stephen King work
1981:
Fired as helmer of horror feature "Venom"; replaced by Piers Haggard
1981:
Experienced extreme creative differences with producers of "The Funhouse" which he directed
1982:
Helmed first big-budget studio feature, "Poltergeist" produced by Steven Spielberg; feature rumored to have been actually co-directed by the overpowering auteur
:
Dissatisfied with scripts being offered, directed "Dancing With Myself", a music video for recording artist Billy Idol
1984:
Signed a three-picture deal with Menahem Golan and Yorum Globus of Cannon Films
1986:
First credit as a modelmaker, also provided music, co-produced, and directed, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2", a gory yet satirical sequel to his 1974 landmark
1987:
TV series directing debut, "Amazing Stories"
1988:
Directed the pilot episode ("No More Mr. Nice Guy") for the syndicated horror anthology series "Freddy's Nightmares"
1989:
First screenwriting collaboration with visual effects artist ("Lifeforce" 1985; "The Mangler" 1995) cum writing partner Stephen Brooks, "Spontaneous Combustion" (also directed); released direct-to-video; they also co-scripted "The Mangler" (1995)
1990:
TV-movie (as opposed to miniseries) directing debut, "I'm Dangerous Tonight", a supernatural thriller for the USA Network
1991:
Directed first TV special, "Haunted Lives . . . True Ghost Stories" for CBS
1993:
Directed a segment ("Eye") for the omnibus Showtime telefilm "John Carpenter Presents Body Bags" (also acted)
1995:
Signed an exclusive multi-year development deal with Walt Disney TV to create, produce and direct series, movies and miniseries through his Amberson Films
1995:
Directed the pilot for UPN's "Nowhere Man", a cultish suspense series
1996:
Credited as special visual effects creator on the UPN special "Real Ghosts II" (also directed)
1996:
Helmed the two-hour pilot/series premiere of the NBC period sci-fi thriller "Dark Skies"
2002:
Directed the "Beyond the Sky" episode of Steven Spielberg's miniseries "Taken" (Sci-fi)
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of Texas at Austin: Austin , Texas -

Notes

Hooper serves as director and partner in Amberson Films, a TV production company.

Hooper sits on the Horror Hall of Fame board of directors.

Hooper received an award from New York Film and Television Festival for his early short film, "Down Friday Street".

A "Texas Chainsaw" video game was marketed in 1982.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Marcia Zwilling. Singer. Separated from Haymes' father.
companion:
Marcia Zwilling. Executive. Former Lorimar TV exec; Hooper's partner and VP, Development for their Amberson Films, their TV production.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Norman W R Hooper. Had one other; mother Wendy Smith.
mother:
Lois Hooper. Survived her.
mother:
Lois Hooper. Died July 14, 1996 at age of 85 from complications from a stroke.
son:
Tony Hooper. Laywer.
son:
Tony Hooper. Designed the title "creature" for Hooper's "The Mangler".
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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