How to Make a Massacre: Tobe Hooper on Masters of Horror

Texas Chainsaw MassacreAfter seeing Night of the Living Dead, Tobe Hooper was inspired to make a horror movie of his own with the goal of giving fans as much scare for the buck as he could. Standing in front of a chainsaw display in a department store, surrounded by a rude throng of Christmas shoppers, Hooper had an idea that became a legend.

For my money, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the queen-mother of all horror films. The hulking brutality of Leatherface combined with the grimy realism of the low budget production values makes the movie feel more like a documentary than a horror film — the results are as chillingly real today as they were at its 1974 debut.

This segment from the horror film doc Masters of Horror puts Hooper and his cast in the spotlight, remembering the grueling labor of love that became one of the most enduring horror films ever made.

Chainsaw one was a play about morality in a strange way and family values, and it was all bubbling up out of the times and out of Watergate…” — Tobe Hooper

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  • Chaos_Dynamics

    A solid Hooper cluster:

    Poltergeist – 1982
    Lifeforce – 1985
    Invaders from Mars – 1986
    The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 -1986

    Especially TCM2 – With Dennis Hopper. Awesomely surreal w/ great soundtrack.

    • http://joenolan.com/blog Joe Nolan

      Poltergeist is amazing. TCM2 is underrated though completely different feeling from its predecessor.

      • Matt Staggs

        We’ve got a few films that we watch over and over again in our home, and that’s one of them, along with “Jaws”, “Star Wars” and “Close Encounters”.

        • http://joenolan.com/blog Joe Nolan

          JAWS and CLOSE are both amazing. Spielberg is at his best when he makes serious pulp genre films

    • Matt Staggs

      All good films. I interviewed Tobe Hooper a few years back at San Diego Comic Con. Nice guy, despite having a reputation for being a little prickly. Of course, I didn’t ask about “Poltergeist” – I was warned not to do so.

  • drgergrtdef

    of course they remade this one too

    • http://joenolan.com/blog Joe Nolan

      Have you seen? This is one that I can’t imagine being very good rebooted. Everything that makes the original so timeless is exactly the stuff you could never recreate on purpose. Tobe and his crew were inspired, busted their asses and they found the magic. Really hard to catch that lightning twice.

  • specialtasks

    This movie has the essential ingredient: atmosphere. You mention the inspiration Hooper got from standing in line amongst neckbeards while gazing at a chainsaw. That, plus the locations and the minimal intrusions of what many contemporary filmmakers mistake for “auteurism” really make this a stand-out, not just for the genre. It produces an affect the French have a word for: frisson!

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