A Tobe Hooper Film Guide: Hidden Gems and Cult Classics

Although primarily considered a giant of the horror genre, director Tobe Hooper changed cinema forever with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, released in 1974. Alongside George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead in 1969, Hooper’s debut horror film continues to inspire generations of independent filmmakers and horror auteurs like Rob Zombie (The Devil’s Rejects), Eli Roth (Hostel), and James Gunn (Slither and a little-known franchise called Guardians of the Galaxy). Made on a shoestring budget, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre quickly became notorious, propelling Hooper’s career and paving the way for future filmmaking Texans like Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez, and Mike Judge.

Plenty has been said about Poltergeist and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but with Hooper’s unfortunate passing, it’s high time horror hounds explore his lengthy career, which includes a slew of hidden gems and cult classics.

Eaten Alive (1976)

Released two years after The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Eaten Alive (also known as Death Trap, Horror Hotel, and Starlight Slaughter) follows a scythe-wielding, crocodile-owning redneck named Judd (a delightfully manic Neville Brand) who dementedly hunts the guests of his hotel. The film, with a script co-written by Kim Henkel of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, features memorable performances from a pre-Freddy Krueger Robert Englund and Carolyn Jones (Morticia in The Addams Family) as a brothel madam. Hooper’s decision to film the entire movie on a soundstage creates an eerie, unnatural atmosphere, and the film boasts an equally grisly and gleeful tone.

Salem’s Lot (1979)

Salem’s Lot originally aired on CBS in 1979. The mini-series adapted Stephen King’s classic vampire novel of the same name. Both versions explore what would happen if vampires terrorized a small American town. Besides Poltergeist and The Texas Chain Saw…

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