Acclaimed horror filmmaker Tobe Hooper, who is perhaps best-known for his genre-defining 1974 classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, has died at the age of 74.
The Los Angeles County Coroner confirmed Hooper’s death late on Saturday , according to Variety. The cause of death has not been revealed at present.
In many ways, Hooper’s work on Texas Chainsaw wrote the playbook for future indie horror successes. Even with a small budget — less than $300,000 — and a lack of marquee names, Chainsaw‘s gritty vibe and unflinching violence helped propel a $30 million box office.
While both movies lean on somewhat different filmmaking techniques, the success of both The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity owe much of their success to Chainsaw. It doesn’t matter how much money or how many stars you have; a horror movie needs to be scary before anything else. Hooper recognized that.
That’s where the 1986 Chainsaw sequel — which Hooper also directed — went wrong. It’s been elevated to cult status in more recent times, but the gritty, grimy vibe of the originally was ditched in favor of a schlock gross-out comedy.
Hooper was no one-hit-wonder, however. His 1982 horror flick, Poltergeist, a ghostly fairy tale that did for haunted house stories what Chainsaw did gruesome shock horror.
Hooper stuck to various flavors of horror for most of his career, though it wasn’t just big screen features. He also contributed memorable episodes to the Tales from the Crypt and Amazing Stories TV series’ (among others), as well as the 1979 TV miniseries based on Stephen King’s vampire novel, Salem’s Lot.
Hooper’s final film, Djinn, is a supernatural thriller produce by Image Nation, an Arabian film company, in the United Arab Emirates. It debuted at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival in 2013 but has yet to see a theatrical release.