70s | Pop Culture | Movies | 80s

The Man Who Gave Us "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "Poltergeist," And So Much More Has Died

The world of horror cinema lost one of the greats on August 27th, 2017 with the passing of legendary director Tobe Hooper.


One of the true pioneers of 70s horror cinema, Hooper had a sporadic but storied career full of scares and successes. While he began his adult life as a college professor and cinematographer for documentaries, he soon pooled together his resources to make his break into horror movies. The rest, as they say, is history, and today we'd like to honor the man by listing five of his movies that no horror fan should be without.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)


Often remade but never replicated, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is an important horror movie for a number of reasons. It was not only one of the first "Based on a True Story" horror movies (the film presents itself as real, and in reality was based on serial killer Ed Gein), but it also pioneered the "slasher" genre, in which a group of teenagers are stalked by a killer. Leatherface has remained one of the most iconic horror villains of all time, and the movie remains one of Hooper's biggest achievements.

Salem's Lot (1979)

Warner Bros.

Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, Salem's Lot asks the question "What if Dracula came to a small town in Maine?" Hooper's take on the story is chilling thanks to a combination of fog-covered sets, horrifying vampire makeup that evokes movies like Nosferatu, and great performances. Seriously, who wasn't terrified by that kid in the window?

Hooper probably could've retired after just these two, but his next few movies proved he was consistently awesome...

The Funhouse (1981)


A lesser-known but still amazing horror movie, The Funhouse follows a group of teenagers who decide to spend the night in a carnival funhouse because, y'know, they're idiots. What happens is pretty graphically horrifying, especially if you're afraid of clowns. You've been warned.

Poltergeist (1982)


Funny story: Steven Spielberg was so impressed with Hooper's work that he asked him to direct E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, but when Hooper turned it down, he was given this instead. A movie so iconic and scary that it needs no introduction, Poltergeist is a true horror classic. Between its terrifying effects and genuine tension, it still scares us to this day.

Lifeforce (1985)

Cannon Films

You just know that a movie based on a book called The Space Vampires has to be good, and luckily for us, Lifeforce is awesome. Featuring Hammer Horror alumnus Steve Railsback and a young Patrick Stewart, this showdown against vampires from outer space may not be the scariest of Hooper's movies, but it's definitely one of the most fun.

Rest in peace Tobe Hooper, your terrifying legacy will live on in the hearts of horror fans everywhere.