US & Canada

Texas Chain Saw Massacre director Tobe Hooper dies at 74

A handout photo shows US filmmaker Tobe Hooper during an interview in Madrid, Spain, in 2014 Image copyright EPA
Image caption Hooper at the Nocturna International Fantastic Film Festival of Madrid in 2014

Horror film director Tobe Hooper, who set the movie world abuzz with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in 1974, has died in California, US media say.

He died in Sherman Oaks at the age of 74, the Los Angeles county coroner was quoted as saying by Variety and Movie Web, without giving further details.

His tale of a family of cannibals with oversized kitchen utensils, laced with dark humour, became cult viewing.

Hooper also directed Poltergeist, and the Salem's Lot TV miniseries.

Born in Austin, Texas, on 25 January 1943, Hooper worked as a college professor and documentary cameraman before breaking into the film world with Chain Saw.

Image copyright Rex Features
Image caption Scenes from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre became iconic for horror fans

Shot in six weeks for less than $300,000 (£128,000), it tells of five young Americans waylaid by the said cannibals in rural Texas.

Hooper had got the idea when flustered by crowds in a department store. Finding himself in hardware, he imagined cutting his way out with a chainsaw.

He used real skeletons as props, adding to the macabre feel of a film that spawned a string of inferior slasher movies, with young women usually the victims.

His supernatural thriller, Poltergeist, written by Steven Spielberg and released in 1982, was also hugely successful and became another classic within the horror genre.

His TV adaptation of Stephen King's vampire story Salem's Lot was also widely acclaimed.

Critics admired Hooper for leaving most of the horror to the imagination. Speaking in 2014 to Interview Magazine, Hooper explained why the Leatherface character in Chain Saw wore a mask.

"When you can't see his face, your imagination goes wild," he said. "When you can't see, you fill in the blanks with something that's far more interesting than what can actually be shown."

Once banned in several countries, the film spawned six sequels, and is said to have influenced other film-makers, notably Ridley Scott when he was making Alien.

Hooper's later work for the cinema and television was said to lack the impact of his early films.

Horror film fans have had much to mourn this summer already. George A Romero, who created the Living Dead movie franchise, died last month at the age of 77.

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