Tobe Hooper was born on January 25, 1943 in Austin, Texas. In college he convinced some students to help him with a film that eventually became The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. To most fans, this is his most popular film. Shot on a low budget and barely making it to the big screen, once it was out it became a hit. The title suggests more violence than is actually in the movie but it gives people an unsettling feeling all the same. In fact, I have heard some people describe the movie in a more gory way than the film actually shows. Tobe's next film was Eaten Alive. This one features some of the same cast from his first movie (actually his first movie was called Eggshells so I guess I should say from his second movie) and is also set in an out of the way place. The main difference is this time the big baddy is an animal. Another film I often hear brought up is The Funhouse. Outside of his first movie though, none of his films have made it big with one exception. That would be the movie Poltergeist. Many people claim that producer Steven Spielberg had directed this himself. They point to how polished the film looks and how it feels more like a Spielberg movie as proof. Both men have denied this. Tobe Hooper has also done a lot of tv work which is where he seems to be a little more known at. He directed Salem's Lot as a mini series. He has also directed episodes of Amazing Stories, Tales From The Crypt, Freddy's Nightmare, Taken and of course Masters Of Horror to name a few. For a more complete list you can go here.
I picked Tobe Hooper for this because most people seem to give him a somewhat bad rap because he has never really equaled what he did with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. While I tend to agree with that, I don't think he should have a bad rap because of it. Going through his list of films, I was actually a little surprised at how many I have watched. I haven't reviewed them all here though. None stand out like the above mentioned movie but some are still good movies. The one that stands out to me is Lifeforce which I didn't even realize was directed by Tobe Hooper. My favorite Tobe Hooper film is the same as probably everyone else, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I first watched it because it is a state law to watch any movie with Texas in the title. Ok so I made that up but I do like say that. I think the reason why is just the overall feel of the movie. Some of that is in part to the directing and some of it is due to the acting. The acting is something that has suffered in some of his films. I don't really blame the director for that for the most part but some people would disagree with me saying that is part of the directors job, to get the best performance out of his/her actors. Even so, I have to agree with Showtime and call Tobe Hooper a Master of horror.
Reviews of Tobe Hooper movies you can find here:
Like the last time, I chose a Masters Of Horror episode to review for this tribute. I picked out the opening episode for the second season: The Damned Thing. The Damned Thing starts with the Reddle family eating dinner. John (Brent Stait), his wife Jodi (Georgia Craig) and his son Kevin (Ryan Drescher) are all having a nice time. When Jodi and Kevin go to get a surprise for John, John shows up with a gun. He complains about hearing voices and then kills his wife. Kevin takes off and manages to hide for a little while before his father finds him in a tree. Before John can shoot his own son though. Some force stops him as he whispers that the damned thing has found him. He is then gutted in a very gory scene.
24 years later, Kevin (now played by Sean Patrick Flanery) is grown up and is the Sheriff of the little town he lives in. He has a wife (Marisa Coughlan) and son (Alex Ferris) of his own but is currently seperated from them because he is still haunted by what happened in his past. We start to see some strange things, like one man smashing his face with a hammer over and over again, as Kevin starts to figure out that this force that took over his dad is coming again. Will he be able to save his family or even himself from the madness that will soon take over the town?
The effects are very well done. The only one I didn't care for was the gutting scene. To me it was easy to tell it was effects because his chest seemed to get bigger once the gutting started/happened. The hammer to the face was very well done and probably my favorite effect out of all of them. Another good effect is the missing legs but I will let you watch and see for yourself what I mean. The Damned Thing doesn't skimp when it comes to blood. It's not as bloody as Jenifer was but it still holds its own.
The acting is also a nice point to this one. I felt that Sean Patrick Flanery did a good job but at times his acting felt a little flat to me. Marisa Coughlan was believable as his wife and I totaly missed the fact that I knew her from another movie. The two boys both did wonderful jobs. Brendan Fletcher playes the Deputy. The person that seemed to get the attention of most reviewers though was Ted Raimi. He plays the part of a priest that goes mad. In truth it wasn't all that hard to figure out he was going to be infected by the madness.
The only problem I had with Tobe Hooper's directing was at the end of episode. It gets very jerky and I for one don't care for that to much. That being said, The Damned Thing didn't work for me to well. The problem wasn't with the director but with the script. This episode probably would have worked much better as a full blown movie instead of a one hour episode. The characters are fleshed out a little but could have used a little more. This force, or whatever you want to call it, could have been explored more as well. I just felt like the plot could have been expanded on so much which is a shame it wasn't since it could have been great.
For example, we hear the towns people going crazy while the Deputy is talking to the Sheriff. This was fine with me since I like to think what is happening instead of actually seeing it some of the time. The problem I had with it though is the whole town has gone crazy yet the Deputy is standing around by his car talking on the phone. The Sheriff is also a bit guilty of the same thing. For him though I can understand much better, he is more worried about his family than anyone else. We don't see to many characters in movies do that. Most seem to put their job first, family second. I did like The Damned Thing but I felt it could have been so much better at the same time. Worth checking out for sure all the same.
3 out of 5 Hoping I never get that crazy with a hammer near by