I woke up to the news that Tobe Hooper had passed away. I sat there for a moment and realized that there will sooner rather than later, be nothing left. Leatherface was the first “modern” movie monster that scared me. Where I would sit and watch the Universal monsters all week long twice a year, longing to be them, Leatherface scared me. I would flip through the movie section of the L.A. Times, cutting out clippings of movies that I liked, but would shut the paper or hastily close my eyes and turn the page when I came to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Quite simply, it SCARED me. My mother took me on a camping trip with her friend and her two boys. They had seen the movie on cable TV (ONTV/SelectTV one of those) They started to tease me saying that Leatherface was out in the woods and making the buzzing noise. I ran back to camp scared. I would have nightmares. Then, for 13 years…silence. I saw Salem’s Lot after being told it was a vampire film and was very excited. The movie freaked me out and the vampire was like nothing I had seen before. I grabbed the T.V. Guide and opened it up to the ad. Directed by Tober Hooper. I freaked again. This was my relationship with Tobe during my formative years.
In 2003, I met the man at the premiere of Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses. He was super kind and fun to talk to. I shared my stores of fear of his imagination and we laughed together. I gave him a ride to the Las Palmas Mexican Restaurant where the after party was. We had drinks at the after party and I remember him, Rob Zombie and myself discussing the Corpses and Chainsaw and what they were going for with each. I was no longer afraid of him. Every now and again I would see him, we would share a quick laugh about whatever and get on with our lives. I didn’t know him well but he became one of my great inspirations and Texas Chainsaw became my favorite franchise. If for no other reason, it scared me.
At the beginning of this piece I said that I realized that there will soon be nothing left. What I meant by that is that we have lost so many film-making legends lately. We are entering an era soon where there are no horror greats left. No horror film makers that matter left walking the earth. The people who actually scared us, tried something new and bled for what they believed in. Tobe Hooper will be missed by many on a personal level, many more on a cinematic level. But cinema itself will miss him most. He was a pioneer in the truest sense of the word. From Poltergeist to Lifeforce, from Funhouse to Mortuary, everything he made had an atmosphere that lingered. One that informed so many others that followed him. I am not scared of him anymore but I am terrified of the world without his kind and creatively fearless soul.