If you're only the slightest bit interested in the recent history of horror cinema you're bound to come across some of Tobe Hooper's films. Over the span of (more or less) 40 years he directed quite a few horror classics. Films that, at least in spirit, survived the test of time.
It all started for Hooper in '74 when he released The Texas Chainsaw Massacre upon the world. Considered by many fans one of the most important horror flicks ever made, it is indeed a big break with all the horror films that came before. Apart from its undeniable legacy, a groovy soundtrack and a nice finale are all that is left to enjoy nowadays, the rest of the film is pretty mediocre, even bordering on amateurism at times.
Hooper would go on to direct a few other cult classics (most notably Salem's Lot, an adaptation of Stephen King's book), until in '82 Hooper would hit it big a second time. With a little help from Steven Spielberg (writer of the script) he released Poltergeist, a film firmly etched in the realm of kiddy horror, but containing several scenes that would, over the years, become part of our cultural heritage.
It would turn out to be Hooper's last big commercial success as he would quickly slip back into B-film territory. Life Force might be considered a cross-over film, but was ultimately bogged down by bad acting, a lack of focus and some rather crude special effects. Hooper tried one last time to reach out to the masses, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 was a pretty loose sequel to the first film that traded in tension for comedy, but that clearly wasn't what people were hoping to see.
The 90s and early 00s would bring little success for Hooper, though he never stopped trying. His adaptation of King's The Mangler wasn't even half bad, Body Bags (his collaboration with Carpenter) is a downright failure though. I must admit I kinda lost track of Hooper during this period. He would rise once more though, during the mid '00s when the Masters of Horror anthology brought all the major horror directors back together one final time. Both The Damned Thing and Dance of the Dead (Hooper's entries) are highlights of the series.
Hooper has a new film (Djinn) sitting in his vault, waiting to be released, but practical (legal I think) problems are holding it back. Maybe not such a bad thing since the trailer was hardly worth the trouble. It's anyone's guess is Hooper resurfaces once more, then again he's had a sufficiently pleasant and worthwhile career so he could just as well call it a day. I'm not his biggest fan (80s horror isn't really my thing), but I don't mind catching up with one of his films from time to time. It's a bit hit and miss, but everybody with a soft spot for horror owes it to himself to at least check out his most famous films.
Best film: Dance of the Dead (4.0*)
Worst film: Salem's Lot (1.0*)
Average rating: 2.40 (out of 5)