Remembering Horror Film Director Tobe Hooper : NPR

Hooper, who died Saturday, wrote and directed the 1974 cult classic film, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, which helped inspire a wave of slasher films that followed. Originally broadcast in 1988.



TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. We’ll conclude today’s edition of our 30th anniversary retrospective with a 1988 interview that has become an obituary. Tobe Hooper, who’s best known as the writer and director of the 1974 film “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,” died last Saturday. He was 74. “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” was so gruesome, it helped inspire a wave of slasher films, but it was also so interestingly made that it was added to the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

The movie is about a group of hippies who meet up with a family of homicidal maniacs who kill strangers to the area, eat their flesh and turn what’s left over into sausage. The main character, known as Leatherface, wears a mask of human skin and attacks his victims with a chain saw.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE”)

PAUL A PARTAIN: (As Franklin) Come on, Franklin. It’s going to be a fun trip. If I have any more fun today, I don’t think I’m going to be able to take it.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHAINSAW REVVING, SCREAMS)

GROSS: Before “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,” horror usually meant the supernatural – zombies, monsters and other creatures. But in “Chain Saw,” it was people who ate flesh and played out our worst nightmares. Here’s what Tobe Hooper told me in 1988.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

TOBE HOOPER: I don’t think I set out to change the genre consciously. I was just – I was a movie fan, you know. I was a horror film buff. And I simply made a film that I wanted to see because I felt that at that time – and we’re talking about something like close to 15 years ago – the horror films that we were getting, it had gotten, you…

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