Tobe Hooper, the film director best known for the 1974 cult classic “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,” died Saturday in Sherman Oaks, Calif. He was 74.
No cause of death was given, Variety reports.
Hooper’s legacy as one of the most influential horror directors of all time was set in stone with “Chain Saw,” which starred a group of relatively unknown actors as teenagers desperately trying to escape the grip of a family of cannibals and the ominous Leatherface.
Hooper shot the film on a slim budget of less than $ 300,000, but it went on to be a massive box office success, and sparked a successful franchise and remakes — even if it was banned in several countries for complaints of violence.
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Of the film’s origins — which were fictional, but loosely based on murderer Ed Gein — Hooper said in 2014: “I was in a department store around the holidays thinking, ‘I just can’t wait to get out of this department store…’ There were thousands of people in there, and I was weaving through them to get out, and I found myself in the hardware department. I looked down and there was a rack of chain saws in front of me for sale. I said, ‘If I start the saw, those people would just part. They would get out of my way.’ That birthed the idea of the chain saw.”
Hooper’s horror resume grew in 1982, when he directed the Steven Spielberg written and produced “Poltergeist.”
The supernatural horror flick — which has developed a cult following of its own — starred JoBeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson as a couple whose home is invaded by ghosts. “Poltergeist” went on to become the eighth-highest grossing film of the year.
Hooper also directed the “Chain Saw” sequel “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” in 1986, as well as a miniseries adaptation of the Stephen King novel “Salem’s Lot” for CBS in 1979.
Other credits include the 1976 thriller “Eaten Alive,” a 1986 remake of “Invaders from Mars” and the 1990 horror film “Spontaneous Combustion.”
The Austin, Texas, native also tried his hand at music videos, helming Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself” music video in 1982 — which, of course, featured several horror elements, like skeletons and zombies.
Hooper’s final film was the United Arab Emirates-set “Djinn” in 2013.
He is survived by two sons.
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