The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

 

 

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) Raw in its documentary footage, this movie became one of the most influential horror films. “The film seemed like the pornography of hell,” the British Censorship Board ruled , cancelling its distribution in England for 23 years. Shady financing, rumored with the mob, did not help. Nevertheless, anyone who sees this picture will never forget the screams of Marilyn Burns and is guaranteed nightmares. For a complete analysis why this has become a classic horror film, read Joe Bob Briggs’ essay below.

 

 

Leatherface loves his chainsaw,

Its redneck alligator teeth

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Grinding with implacable steel. 

Leatherface’s in stitches, grinning,

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Disemboweling good as well as bad

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Because both are complicit.

Quite messy with his food, Leatherface

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Left one girl on a hook to die, chopping

Her boyfriend in a meat grinder.

 

It’s the new abattoir art of the Seventies.

Leatherface loves to feed his dead parents

Armadillo roadkill or runaway teens.

Leatherface’s the last minstrel whiteface,

A grizzled alt-right pumpkin head modeled on

What armed militants wear in the hills.

Leatherface’s bestial Minotaur smells like

A cave painting of Picasso’s bull, full of

Spitting blood, goring rotting entrails.

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 Leatherface coos in his comfy chair,

Pops a brew, flips on Vietnam body counts,

Image may contain: one or more people, meme and text

And scoops out the brains of the war

Hawks who sent us there.

[Disposable Poem September 24, 2017]

Dr. Mike

 

 

 

  

 

Joe Bob’s America

Last of the Hippie Filmmakers

by Joe Bob Briggs

September 21, 2017

[http://takimag.com/article/last_of_the_hippie_filmmakers_joebob_briggs/print#axzz4tJ7uzXXp]

F=GREENVILLE, S.C.—Tobe Hooper passed away the same night Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, making it impossible for him to be properly honored in Austin or anywhere else. You could look at it as the ironic coda to a life full of bad timing, or you could look at it, as I do, as God making it rain forty days and forty nights in Texas when our most misunderstood auteur was taken.

There are four great Texas film directors—the other three are King Vidor, Richard Linklater, and Robert Rodriguez—and all except Hooper were able to acquire enough power to distance themselves from Hollywood dealmakers and make the films they wanted to make.

Tobe Hooper was the exception. He got beat up by the system his whole life. His masterpiece, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, was condemned as pornography by both coasts even as inferior horror films out of Andy Warhol’s Factory and Warner Brothers’ backlot were being praised as works of genius. Hooper then spent the rest of his life knocking on various Hollywood doors that would occasionally be cracked open just wide enough to give him one job at a time, often by C-level producers who turned up their noses at his pedigree and then micromanaged his work until it was all but destroyed. His one big break, Poltergeist, was plagued by the persistent fake news that Steven Spielberg ghost-directed it. This libel followed Hooper throughout his career and was even appended to many of his obituaries.

First of all, let’s state the obvious. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is one of the most successful independent films in history. (We don’t know exactly how successful because the original distribution company was owned by the Mafia.) It has been shown theatrically in almost every country in the world, and its innovations have influenced the horror genre for the past four decades. But Hooper never benefited from that reputation because, by the time the glossy high-budget remakes came out in the 21st century, Hooper’s era had passed and his reputation had never recovered from its initial association with what was considered exploitative dreck. Today he would be called a “genre genius.” Then he was just regarded as the weirdo who made a sensational grindhouse flick. People hardly remember this now, but the film was a badge of dishonor. Most of the cast members took it off their résumés, and the very title of the movie became America’s cultural shorthand for perversity, moral decline, and the corruption of children. Even 25 years after its release it remained the favorite example of congressmen calling for the censorship of television.


Yet Chain Saw is more properly understood as a sui generis art form that I’ll call Southwestern Gothic Grand Guignol Political Satire. Like all great films, it’s a dreamscape. Chain Saw was conceived, shaped, filmed, edited, and released in a kind of mild doper’s haze, like a free-love happening that, on the third day, turns a little ugly. Hooper is one of the three great hippie artists with ties to Austin—the others being Willie Nelson and Dennis Hopper—but his was the most antisocial personality of the trio. He was somewhat of a loner who could be shy and withdrawn even when he was being honored. Throughout his life he retained a latent counterculture shabbiness, with his unruly beard, mop haircut, professorial wire rims, and gravelly halting voice. (He rivaled Hopper for the number of times he used the word “man.”) But his retiring nature, sometimes bordering on the reclusive, didn’t serve him well in the Cheshire-smile world of Hollywood where he always sought acceptance.

That doesn’t diminish his brilliance. Hooper’s signature film, produced for $60,000 raised from Austin good-ole-boy politicians in 1973, was the revolutionary “angry youth” picture that Hollywood had been trying to make for several years—perhaps explaining why it was shunned by his fellow filmmakers. Besides being a horror classic, Chain Saw is a powerful antiestablishment screed at the tail end of the Vietnam era, when emotions were still raw and Nixon had just left office. Almost everyone associated with it—the notable exception being the stunning Final Girl from Houston, Marilyn Burns—had some connection to the counterculture. Hooper’s scenarist, Kim Henkel, was a lanky, drawling textbook illustrator with a droopy handlebar mustache who had starred in Hooper’s first feature, Eggshells, as a dope-smoking sexaholic poet who likes to write in the nude and discuss politics in the bathtub. Allen Danziger, who played the van driver “Jerry,” was a childhood friend of Stokely Carmichael who had traveled from the Bronx to Austin to work with the mentally retarded in one of LBJ’s Great Society programs. Dottie Pearl, the makeup artist, was a cultural anthropologist who had received government grants to make films about the Navajo. John Henry Faulk, the radio personality and humorist who was blacklisted by anti-Communist reactionaries in the ’50s and spent the rest of his life crusading for First Amendment causes while appearing on Hee Haw, contributes a cameo in the cemetery sequence. Gunnar Hansen, the Icelandic giant who played the actual chain-saw killer, was the editor of the Austin poetry journal Lucille at the time he got the part.


Yet despite the movie’s rich subtext and the precision of its Hitchcockian cutting (868 edits in a 90-minute film), it took almost three decades for it to gain anything close to critical approval. It wasn’t until the year 2000 that the British Board of Film Classification lifted its ban on the film’s distribution in England. Long considered too grisly even for late-night premium channels like Showtime and HBO, it was finally seen on television in an uncut version in 2001. Shut out from all conventional distribution networks, it still managed to find an audience. Very few horror films survive the teen generation that first sees them, yet the myths and legends surrounding Chain Saw have continuously expanded. Many people believed, and still believe, that the movie is entirely true, in part because of its effective cinema verité style.

In 1973, when the project took shape, Tobe Hooper was 30 years old and already considered the “old man” of Austin’s minuscule filmmaking community. He had seen every film released by Hollywood since 1944, frequenting all four theaters on Congress Avenue, because his father was a film buff who owned the Capitol Hotel, and the old man loved sneaking out to a movie in the afternoon, often taking his wife and infant son with him. “I think I learned cinematic language before I learned language,” he once told me. “I think I was a camera.”

At age 3 Hooper appropriated his father’s Bell & Howell 8-millimeter home movie camera and started making his own films. Throughout his childhood he used every available family member and classmate as actors, impressing his teachers by turning in class projects in celluloid form. For a seventh-grade science class he made a movie inspired by Hammer Films’ The Curse of Frankenstein, complete with the blood-emulsion tinting of the film stock, and at age 17 he completed his first “real” film, The Abyss, the story of a prisoner awaiting execution who escapes, gets killed, and goes to hell, before realizing that he never really escaped at all but has been dead the whole time. The film was shot in 16 millimeter on a budget of $700 donated by his father. “Maybe twenty people saw it,” Hooper recalled, “but when it was finished, I felt like wow! Breakthrough! Because it had sound, it had music, it was 30 minutes long. I knew I was going to be a director.”

The following year, 1962, he enrolled at the University of Texas and checked in at the brand-new film school—or, more precisely, the Radio/TV/Film Department, which had no real film equipment and only two film students. He lasted two years, never spending a day without a camera in his hand, but the most valuable contact he made was Robert Schenkkan, general manager of public TV station KLRN and, at the time, the national chairman of the Public Broadcasting System. Hooper would visit Schenkkan three or four times a week, often borrowing one of KLRN’s 16-millimeter cameras, and eventually Schenkkan gave him small jobs shooting footage for the station.

It was Schenkkan who helped Hooper land his first major directing job, introducing him to Fred Miller, an East Texas Baptist preacher who had persuaded the folk singers Peter, Paul and Mary to participate in a feature documentary. Miller hired Hooper to go on tour with them as principal shooter and director, and the resulting film, The Song Is Love, ran on every public TV station in the country for years, usually around Easter.

Meanwhile, Hooper had made his first 35-millimeter film, a ten-minute comedy short called The Heisters, financed for $7,500 by a San Francisco investor and eventual winner of an award at the San Francisco Film Festival. He had also formed a commercial production company, Film House, with four other Austin filmmakers, and during the ’60s he shot more than sixty commercials and shorts. He directed Farrah Fawcett’s first commercial (for a makeup company), filmed documentaries on the Kennedy-era Title III program to aid minorities in higher education, and made a famous short called Down Friday Street that’s credited with stopping the destruction of historic buildings in Austin.

But Hooper always lusted after mainstream Hollywood—if he could have written his own ticket, he would have made big-budget comedies—and that yearning led him on a constant search for feature funding. Unfortunately, his first attempt to impress the West Coast was a disaster. Houston investor David Ford raised $40,000 to finance a feature called Eggshells. At a time when heavy-handed youth pictures like The Strawberry Statement were attempting to “explain” the counterculture, Hooper’s idea was “to show the end of the Vietnam War, with the troops coming home, but tell it through the eyes of a commune.” Shooting with a handheld camera, aping the style of his idols Fellini and Antonioni, Hooper used real people who lived in a communal house near the University of Texas campus. Most of the script was either improvised or scribbled on napkins with his collaborator and art director, Bob Burns. Trying to flesh out a plot in a movie that had none, Hooper invented a ghostly spirit that dwelt in the basement of the house, a mysterious force that Burns eventually dubbed the “cryptoembryonic hyperelectric presence.” (It was mostly pulsating lights and spinning colors and fast-motion film—what passed for psychedelic special effects at the time. Visitors to the basement would go on a “trip” whenever they sat under an antique beauty-salon hair dryer.)

Alas, the only place Eggshells was ever seen was on a few college campuses, where, Hooper lamented, “as soon as the lights went down, the Bic lighters would all go on.” Billed on the poster as “An American Freak Illumination: A Time and Spaced Film Fantasy,” the movie failed to return a single dime.

It was the low point of Hooper’s life—yet it led to the high point. The most memorable actor in the film—partly because he appears in a wild full-frontal-nude sequence, setting fire to his car and his clothes before frolicking through a meadow—was none other than Kim Henkel, working under the pseudonym “Boris Schnurr.” It turns out that the famous horror partnership germinated because Henkel happened to be living in the communal house Hooper chose for his location.

“After that lamebrain psychedelic hippie thing we made,” Henkel recalled, “Tobe and I became casual friends. He wanted me to develop a script with him. But he moves at an exasperating pace. We were working on a modern version of ‘Hansel and Gretel’ for almost a year. The bad guys in the story were ‘electronic fields.’ That was his idea. I told him we needed something more sinister than ‘electronic fields.’ That hadn’t worked in Eggshells. We had no budget, we had no cast, and the last picture had not been successful. What do you do? Horror films is about it.”

The way Hooper recalled it later, the inspiration for Chain Saw occurred at a Montgomery Ward department store during the frenzied Christmas shopping rush in December of 1972. “There were these big Christmas crowds, I was frustrated, and I found myself near a display rack of chain saws. I just kind of zoned in on it. I did a rack-focus to the saws, and I thought, ‘I know a way I could get through this crowd really quickly.’ I went home, sat down, all the channels just tuned in, the zeitgeist blew through, and the whole damn story came to me in what seemed like about thirty seconds. The hitchhiker, the older brother at the gas station, the girl escaping twice, the dinner sequence, people out in the country out of gas. I called Kim and said, ‘I’ve got it.’”

“I got this call from Tobe,” Henkel recalled in a less dramatic version, “and he said he’d been thinking about the story and wanted to get together. I went over to his house and we talked through the story, and then I started going over there every evening and figuring out the structure, and then I started writing in his kitchen. I would write four or five pages and then take them to him and we’d go over them. Mainly we were working out a feel. We wrote the first draft in six weeks, from February to the spring, and we were shooting the film by that summer.”

They kept the original idea of an updated “Hansel and Gretel” story—“only instead of being lured to a gingerbread cottage with gumdrops,” said Henkel with understatement, “it was a little more sinister.” To create the modern version of a witch who bakes children in pies, they studied the then-scant literature on real-life cannibals and serial killers.

Hooper had relatives from Wisconsin who had told him gruesome stories as a child that he later discovered were mostly truthful—the legends surrounding Edward Gein, a handyman in the small town of Plainfield who liked to dig up fresh graves, cut the skin off corpses, wear it on various parts of his body, and dance in the moonlight. When the authorities finally caught him in 1957, he confessed to two murders in his quest for fresh body parts, and in his house they found skulls on the bedposts, a human heart in a saucepan, and a woman in his barn dressed like a deer. All the members of his family had died, and he was suspected of never burying his mother and possibly killing his brother. He showed clear signs of being a transsexual—he always dressed in female body parts, especially breasts, vaginas, nipples, and the faces of women—and would spend the rest of his life in the Central State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where he was known for his rock jewelry. He died in 1984, but not before he had inspired characters in Psycho, Deranged, Maniac, and, most notably, Silence of the Lambs. Says Ron Bozman, who production-managed Chain Saw and produced Lambs, “I guess I’m the only guy who worked on both of the most famous Ed Gein movies. But Tobe’s version was by far the wilder ride.”

The character of Leatherface was not strictly based on Gein, though. “I definitely studied Gein,” said Henkel, “but I also noticed a murder case in Houston at the time, a serial murderer named Elmer Wayne Henley. He was a young man who recruited victims for an older homosexual man. I saw some news report where Elmer Wayne was identifying bodies and their locations, and he was this skinny little ole 17-year-old, and he kind of puffed out his chest and said, ‘I did these crimes and I’m gonna stand up and take it like a man.’ Well, that struck me as interesting, that he had this conventional morality at that point. He wanted it known that, now that he was caught, he would do the right thing. So this kind of moral schizophrenia is something I tried to build into the characters. Like when the old man is so upset that the door was chopped down. ‘Look what your brother did to the door! Don’t you have any pride in your home?’”

Once they had the script, called Head Cheese, Hooper and Henkel showed it to Warren Skaaren, the nerdy, well-scrubbed Minnesotan who had become the first head of the Texas Film Commission. Skaaren in turn took it to Bill Parsley, the flamboyant lobbyist for Texas Tech University, and Parsley eventually agreed to raise a $60,000 operating budget in exchange for 50 percent of the picture. Parsley’s lawyer threw in $10,000, Henkel’s sister a thousand, and one of the lawyer’s criminal clients, a reputed drug dealer from South Texas, added $10,000 of his own to the kitty. Skaaren made his most lasting contribution to the film just one week before principal photography commenced that summer. He suggested that Hooper and Henkel throw out both of their working titles—Head Cheese and Leatherface—and call it The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

Chain Saw was the first baby-boomer horror film, in which sheltered but idealistic suburban children, distrustful of anyone over 30, are terrorized by the deformed adult world that dwells on the grungy side of the railroad tracks. There had been other films that treat rural America as a place of seething, barely-contained violence—notably Deliverance—but never one in which the distinction is so clearly made between an old America, of twisted deranged adults, and the new America, of honest right-thinking children. Hooper and Henkel had finally made their counterculture film after all.

Legend has it that, on a certain evening in October of 1974, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was sneak-previewed at a theater in San Francisco, where half the audience got sick and others pelted the screen, yelled obscenities, and demanded their money back. Fistfights broke out in the lobby, and the film became famous. The reality is probably less colorful. The most credible version is that several San Francisco politicians, including City Council members, had gone to a special screening of the movie The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3, and it was a coincidence that Chain Saw was being sneaked as a second feature. The politicians were outraged, and therefore the press heard about it. Knowing what we now know about Bryanston Pictures—the Mafia-owned company that ended up with distribution rights—very few things involving Chain Saw were coincidental. There’s a good possibility that the whole thing was staged to create a controversy. At any rate, a myth was born that night—that there was not only a horrific new movie, but a new kind of movie, the most violent film ever made, a docudrama so nauseatingly and relentlessly gory that it tested the very limits of what the First Amendment allows. (It’s no coincidence that Bryanston was simultaneously distributing Deep Throat, whose release in 1972 started free-speech debates and triggered prosecutions that would continue throughout the ’70s.)

The movie was an overnight hit. Bryanston had done a masterful job of marketing, beginning with the classic poster, which today sells for $500 and up. “The story is true,” it announced with classic showmanship. “Now the movie that’s just as real.” Johnny Carson made disapproving jokes about the movie. Rex Reed called it “the scariest movie I’ve ever seen, the Jaws of the midnight movie.” The Los Angeles Times called it “despicable…ugly and obscene…a degrading, senseless misuse of film and time.” But, of course, the bad reviews helped just as much as the rare good one. By the time it reached New York, it had become just as notorious as Deep Throat, if somewhat less popular with the East Coast intellectuals who had so vigorously defended Harry Reems and Linda Lovelace. Especially offended by the film was Stephen Koch, a friend of Andy Warhol and author of a book on Warhol’s films. He called Chain Saw “a vile little piece of sick crap” and part of a growing “hard-core pornography of murder” that should best be compared to snuff films.

The problem with the New York critical debate was that every commentator made some kind of basic factual error about what is actually in the film. The idea that the story could take place only in Texas informed a lot of the more hysterical articles, ignoring the fact that the principal source material was from medieval German folklore and Wisconsin court archives. If you read enough of the reviews, in fact, you start to think that the scariest word in the title was neither “chainsaw” nor “massacre,” but “Texas”!

The fame of the movie—or its ignominy, depending on how you looked at it—would follow Hooper the rest of his life. For his next project, Kurdish film distributors in Southern California hired Hooper to do a Chain Saw-type horror story from an existing script (rewritten by Henkel) about an insane motel manager who feeds his guests to the alligators that live in the swamp out back. They shot it in three weeks at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood, but even with Marilyn Burns as the lead, lightning did not strike twice. Mel Ferrer, Stuart Whitman, and Robert Englund—who would later become “Freddy Krueger”—rounded out the cast of Eaten Alive, also known as Legend of the Bayou, also known as Brutes and Savages, also known as Death Trap, also known as Horror Hotel, also known as Horror Hotel Massacre, also known as Murder on the Bayou, also known as Starlight Slaughter, which failed to make money regardless of how many times it was retitled and rereleased.

And that was the last time the Hooper/Henkel team would work together. They had scored an office on the backlot at Universal Studios, but they were so naive that they didn’t realize that a three-picture “first look” deal was the equivalent of being given a short-term lease in a trailer park. Hooper had always been fascinated by Los Angeles and plunged into the fray, landing a plum TV job directing the Stephen King novel Salem’s Lot as a CBS miniseries, but Henkel eventually tired of Hollywood and returned to Texas, where he wrote one of the best indie films of the ’70s, Eagle Pennell’s Last Night at the Alamo.

Then Hooper was hired to direct what should have been his ticket to lasting fame and fortune—Poltergeist.

Poltergeist was his first big-budget picture and an unqualified commercial success. He had pitched into the project joyfully with his new friend and executive producer Steven Spielberg, and they jointly worked out the casting and the general shooting schedule. Like kids at play, they called each other several times a day, and when production began, Spielberg wanted to be there. On a particular day, when a Los Angeles Times reporter was visiting the set, Spielberg happened to be shooting second-unit work in front of the house while Hooper was in the backyard getting a scene in which a tree comes to life in the little girl’s dreams.


The following week an article appeared in the Times implying that Hooper was not really directing Poltergeist at all and that Spielberg was not just the executive producer but was ghost-directing. The clear implication was that Hooper was not up to the job. Hooper was naturally disturbed by the article and wrote a letter to the reporter trying to clear things up. Spielberg became irate when he found out that Hooper had written the letter. Spielberg had investors and backers who wanted him working on another project at the time; he was concerned that support for that project would dry up if he was caught “goofing off” on Poltergeist. Spielberg told Hooper to just keep his mouth shut, and relations between the two men became strained. (They later patched things up, and Hooper would go on to work on several other Spielberg projects, including The Others and the pilot for Taken.)

But the damage had been done. When the movie was released, review after review took note of the rumor that Hooper hadn’t really directed it. Spielberg finally took out full-page ads in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, giving Hooper full credit for the film and discounting the rumors, but no one really believed it. As late as this year—35 years later!—an assistant cameraman was giving interviews to a blogger saying he witnessed Spielberg ghost-directing, and the libel was passed along to the public even though the cameraman had no access to the daily directorial meetings.

Twice successful, twice cursed—Hooper seemed to be the only director in history who couldn’t get work even after two movies that earned more than $100 million each, movies that would both be acclaimed as classics. Time and again he was asked to “prove himself,” even as Poltergeist took the suburban multiplexes by storm and Chain Saw continued to play drive-ins, overseas territories, and midnight-movie houses (often on a double bill with David Lynch’s Eraserhead). After a five-year censorship fight in France, Chain Saw opened on the Champs-Élysées in 1982 and had grosses higher than Superman. For a 1983 rerelease by New Line Cinema, the gross was $6 million, an unheard-of figure for a nine-year-old film that had already been released on video. Chain Saw would end up being seen in more than 90 countries, sometimes dubbed, sometimes subtitled, sometimes marketed in an almost unrecognizable way. (In Italy, it was called Non Aprite Quella Porta, or “Don’t Open That Door.”) A remastered print would be rereleased for the film’s 40th anniversary in 2014 and sell out special screenings all across the country. Its appeal, for better or worse, was universal.

No matter. After Poltergeist Hooper was forced back into the independent-film world. The only reason he agreed to do the first sequel to Chain Saw is that the Israeli-owned Cannon Films promised to finance two other pet projects of his. He got a $20 million budget for the superb Lifeforce, which had mixed reviews but poor box office, and he followed that with a remake of the classic Invaders From Mars, which got a good critical reception but underperformed. Then, to satisfy his obligation to Cannon, he reluctantly churned out Chainsaw 2 with a $4.5 million budget.

The film made money—and over the past 15 years it has acquired status as a cult favorite—but it didn’t have the power of the original, partly because Hooper chose not to use Henkel. Instead he asked Kit Carson, of Paris, Texas fame, to write it. Maybe it was ahead of its time, but the comedic treatment of the Chain Saw family—Carson envisioned it as “the horror version of The Breakfast Club”—just didn’t fly with serious fans of the original, and everyone who worked on part 2 thought Hooper seemed detached and unchallenged.

There were other attempts to revive the magic. In 1988 New Line decided to make yet another sequel. It’s obviously set in California, with none of the original cast, and with a director who didn’t appear to know what universe he dwelt in. Then, twenty years after the original film was released, Bob Kuhn, one of the original investors, convinced Henkel that he should write and direct yet one more sequel, set the day after the original, ignoring the story lines of the two films released by Cannon and New Line. Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre was budgeted first at $500,000, then $800,000, and ended up costing $1.5 million—again raised from Austin investors. The movie should have been a hit. It was certainly the best-written, best-acted, and best-directed of all the sequels, and it had the star power of Matthew McConaughey and Renée Zellweger, who were unknown Austin actors when Henkel cast them but had become “names” before the movie was released. (Top billing on the film went to Tyler Cone and Robert Jacks.) But the release was sabotaged by Hollywood agents trying to “protect” their clients and a management at Columbia/TriStar that was embarrassed by an inherited project they wanted to quickly play off on video.

By then Hooper was running as fast as he could to get away from the “chain saw” typecasting, but he always struggled, taking television work (The Equalizer, Freddy’s Nightmares, Tales From the Crypt, movies-of-the-week) and making the occasional low-budget feature, like Funhouse or Spontaneous Combustion, financed by people hoping to repeat the Chain Saw success story. By the ’90s he was sufficiently well-known to have his name above the title in the anthology film Tobe Hooper’s Night Terrors, and he was sufficiently respected by ABC golden boy Jeff Sagansky to be entrusted with the pilot for Sagansky’s pet project of 1996, Dark Skies. He continued to work in both television and film until recently, finishing out his theatrical film career with a remake of Toolbox Murders (2004) and the disappointing Mortuary (2005).

I’m not really counting his final project, in 2013, which was financed and produced in one of the few places in the world where The Texas Chain Saw Massacre had never been released—the United Arab Emirates. Like almost everything else in Hooper’s life, the production of Djinn was plagued by local politics, censorship, a delayed release caused by government concerns, and so many hands in the pie that we have no idea what he intended. It’s not a great film, but it’s the first Middle Eastern horror movie—filmed in both English and Arabic—and I can’t imagine a part of the world that needs horror more. No doubt someday the Emirati will realize who was in their presence. Someday they will honor him. Someday they will understand what he brought them, and, like everything else he did, others will benefit from his work.

I honor him here and now. He stayed the course. Let us now praise infamous men.

 

 

 

 

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