Where I bitch about Tobe Hooper

Lifeforce

I’m having a hard time understanding Tobe Hooper. Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a movie that gets name dropped a lot as a classic, early realism-horror film that paved the way for the huge glut of gritty horror flicks throughout the 70s and early 80s, and which are having a minor resurgence nowadays with Cabin Fever, Hostel, The Devil’s Rejects (the most overtly influenced by TCM) and the remake of The Hills Have Eyes. Last House on the Left came out a few years before TCM and Herschell Gordon Lewis had been doing buckets-of-blood gore films since 1963 so brutal horror wasn’t new in ’74. What makes TCM so important is that it’s one of the most heart-pounding, tense, nearly-bloodless horror films you’ll ever see. Most of the horror is seen off screen or hinted at by the behavior of the sadistic killers.

I can’t comprehend how Hooper made this film and subsequently went on to make huge, bloated, senseless Hollywood weirdo dreck like Lifeforce. One of the things people usually notice right away about TCM is that the soundtrack is entirely diegetic, which makes it all the more realistic. Tons of horror movies since have used this trick, from Cloverfield to The Blair Witch Project to No Country for Old Men. Now compare that to the sweeping Henry Mancini strings that open and sweep over the entirety of Hooper’s strangely terrible Lifeforce. Maybe I am naive to the inner-workings of the movie business; maybe Hooper never wanted to be a successful low-budget filmmaker; maybe TCM was a fluke, a combination of forces that never again coalesced for him. At times I think I’m being too hard on him then I remember he directed Crocodile. I’ve gone on record a numbers of times saying the final scene in TCM with leatherface frustratingly spinning in circles with his chainsaw in the light of the early morning in the middle of the street as his prey escapes in the truckbed is one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve ever seen. Then I remember he directed Crocodile. Then I gently sob.

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~ by talkmyshitagain on September 4, 2009.

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