Tobe Hooper is best known for directing Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a classic horror film but one whose fame and influence has often eclipsed the rest of the director’s equally interesting earlier and subsequent work. This is why we are particularly excited to present an exclusive, limited online run of Hooper’s fantastic feature debut Eggshells (1968/69) alongside his Hammer horror parody short, The Heisters (1964)—both restored and presented by Watchmaker Films and still playing on the site for two more months. (For information on those films, see here and here.)
Now that we’ve given you some time to see these previously unreleased and unknown cult gems, we thought we’d give you the opportunity to ask Tobe Hooper your own questions. Please submit your questions in this forum thread; the thread will be open for two weeks and we’ll send Tobe some of your best inquiries to answer. We’ll then post the subsequent the community interview at MUBI.
Mr. Hooper, you were one of several pioneering directors to come out of Texas in the 1970s, along with Terrence Malick and Eagle Pennell. What themes and techniques do you feel united the films of this first generation of Texan independent directors, and how were those themes and techniques rooted in your identities as Texans?
What does the paper plane means in the first minutes of Eggshells?
In your opinion, how has horror changed through each decade? Particularly regarding trends and perceptions of the genre.
I’m sick of seeing the cinematic brilliance of the first two TCM films bastardized and compromised. When are you going to show these hauteur auteurs remaking your films how it’s really done and come out with Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3? Also, to this day “Poltergeist” is dogged with the myth that Spielberg somehow shared the directing responsibilities. It reminds me of Saul Bass’ claims that he directed the shower sequence of “Psycho” (a sad falsehood that Janet Leigh dispelled once and for all). Will there ever be a definitive account of what happened on the set of the film so we can finally put those stupid rumors to rest?
[Deleted by censure]
@ Ari — Can you explain why you’re such an asshole?
Practice, I guess? Okay, you made me feel mildly guilty so I’ll delete the offending question (which is both true and obvious).
Is it ever going to be released on home video?
If that doesn’t work: Do you think you’ll ever make something like this ever again?
Hey The Dude: I believe Watchmaker Films, who is our partner in releasing these two early titles on MUBI, has home video release planned for later this year.
I once asked Brian Yuzna why he thought his career had taken him first to Spain, then to directing 3D movies in Indonesia, and he didn’t really have an answer – he went because that’s where his life took him – exactly how he got into films in the first place. And yet there isn’t a moment of Society, The Dentist or Amphibious that doesn’t have his woozy signature. When you started making films, did you have clear goals for yourself and your career? By extension, are you aware every time you make a movie about how it fits into your canon? Do you guide each film to be sure that it feels like a Tobe Hooper film or does each film guide you?
What was it about an earlier midnight showing of Eggshells that led to your novel Midnight Movies?
Anymore novels in the future?
There was a 10 year wait between Romero’s Night and Day of the Living Dead. There was a 12 year wait between your Chainsaw films, was a horror sequel an unheard of concept in the late 60s-early 70s or was there another reason?
How do you feel about Sam Raimi producing a remake of Poltergeist?
You had directed the film Poltergeist, which was written and produced by Steven Spielberg. What was it like working with him?
Also, what were your thoughts on the remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre in comparison with the original?
1) One of the things that made The Funhouse such a fascinating film for me was the carnival the story was set in, from the amusement rides to the sideshow showing animal ‘freaks’ such as the two headed cow. As someone living in the UK, what do carnivals like the one portrayed in the film mean to both Americans and to yourself, if you grew up with them, and did any of these thoughts influence the final film?
2) What was it like to work with actor Brad Dourif in the film Spontaneous Combustion (1990)?
3) What was it like to work with the late Dennis Hopper in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2?
4) Speaking of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, as both a film both made many years later from the original and very different from it in tone, what did you want to do differently from the original and what was on your mind when you were making it?
5) What did you think of Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III and Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, the third and fourth sequels to your original series?
6) As it is well known amongst most horror fans in the United Kingdom, both Eaten Alive and The Funhouse were on the ‘Video Nasties’ list at some point, a list of films between 1982 to 1984 that would prosecuted for their violent content in court, leading to the Video Recordings Act 1984 that would lead to video cassettes having age ratings on them, and yet the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre was never brought up. What are your thoughts on your work at some point being liable to have been banned from the United Kingdom, or censored, and what are your thoughts on the idea that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a very controversial film, never becoming involved in such debates?
What was your emotional response to seeing Eggshells at the SXSW film festival in 2009? Were there any sequences you were particularly proud of, any you wish you had done differently in retrospect? I thought the balloon sequence was one of the prettiest sweetest boy-meets-girl scenarios I’ve ever seen – if there’s anything you could say about what inspired that or how it was set up I’d be interested. Also, the idea of the “hairdryers” black bags and dissipating steam/mist, what was in your mind as that being representative of? I was also curious about the little exploding paper plane.
I think is pretty much safe to say that as of today The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is still one of the most influential films of all time, not only in the horror genre. Why do you think the film still possess that enduring power? and do you think a film like that could be made today?
Any anecdotes about Venom? Did Klaus Kinski really drive you off the production? What did you think of the final film? Have you listened to Piers Haggard’s DVD commentary? Who would win an egg-and-spoon race: Ollie Reed or Klaus? Spill some beans, please!
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre opens with narration suggesting the story is true. Connections to Ed Gein are acknowledged in essays I have read about TTCM, but most of the film’s events are to be taken as fictional. It seems though that in the years (decades) following TTCM, many horror films open or end with some type of “based on a true story” revelation. Do you regret opening the film this way, or do you feel it created some type of pathos for the characters and also made the film scarier (I know the film scared me)? What were your intentions behind this opening narration?
When & how did you first came up with the idea for THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) and then EATEN ALIVE (1976)?
Those films were both alike to me.
After so many years, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is still shown at places such as the Museum of Modern Art. Are there any films that you’ve made that you feel are more deserving than TCM of this type of attention from the high art community?
I was a student filmmaker in high school for the last 4 years now.
Question was for Tobe! heyyy
Will we see a BluRay of the incredibly underrated LIFEFORCE? What was it like working on that film, and what was the genesis of the screenplay?
Do you have to be purty to work in a Slaughterhouse?
Trying an unconventional way to do this, but:
Dear Tobe Hooper,
We would like to invite you to join us for the fresh, new film festival Ramaskrik Oppdal.
Ramaskrik Oppdal is a horror and fantasy film festival over three days. In our program we screen around 20 current films, and present a small retrospective. The festival will take place at Oppdal Kulturhus that has two great movie theatres and a smaller screen with a total capacity of 600. In addition to film screenings in the cinema, we are planning presentations of Norwegian and International guest and work-in-progress of new Norwegian horror films.
This is only our second year, and it would be wonderful to present such a distinguished film maker as yourself. In our program we would include a selection of your films and hopefully a Q&A session or lecture by you. Ramaskrik Oppdal is a small festival, but our ambition is to make it a quality festival for real horror enthusiasts and to grow in the years to come.
The festival was initiated by the people behind Kosmorama Trondheim International Film Festival which has been arranged the last eight years in Trondheim. Ramaskrik staff Bente Maalen, Wilhelm Andersen and Torbjørn Grav all work for Kosmorama and has backgrounds in Film Studies at NTNU and the Film Society in Trondheim. The idea of the horror and fantasy festival was presented to Oppdal Cinema Manager Morten Haagensen, and he immediately lit on the project. As a result, the festival is a collaboration between Kosmorama and Oppdal Kulturhus.
Facts about Oppdal:
Oppdal is one of the largest local councils of Mid-Norway, located in the mountains between the two great mountain regions Dovrefjell and Trollheimen. More than 55% of the area is national park or protected landscape. The place has a population figure of 6.700 people. There is short distance to the nearest cities at the coast, Molde, Kristiansund and Trondheim and because of this Oppdal has almost 700.000 visitors a year. Oppdal has the largest sheep ranges in the country with approximately 45,000 sheep in the mountains each summer.
You might know the region better as the location for the Norwegian horror film Troll Hunter. Oppdal is just north of where the trolls live, and if time permits, we will take you on a guided tour of the area.
I hope that Mubi will be gracious enough to forward our invitation to you. If I have piqued your interest and you would like more information about the festival, please do not hesitate to contact me at email@example.com
How much, if at all, were you influenced by QUATERMASS AND THE PIT for LIFEFORCE, especially the escalating frenzy that leads to the climax?
What are your thoughts on Night Terrors (1995) and your video feature Crocodile (2000), any interesting stories about working on those films?
When writing my Master’s Thesis (on redneck horror (Texas Chainsaw played heavily)) I happened to rewatch Chainsaw and 2001 in the same week and noticed some structural similarities. Curious, I googled your name and Kubrick’s and found some minor evidence that you count him as an influence.I wondered then if 2001 was a conscious influence on Chainsaw. After seeing The Heisters and Eggshells at Austin Film Studios last year, I became more convinced that this similarity couldn’t have been entirely unintentional. I found 2001’s thumbprint on Eggshells and The Heisters seems to reference the cut pie-fight ending from Dr. Strangelove (while also seeming to be an absurdist take on nuclear escalation). Kubrick seems to me to be all over these first three films of yours and I think this influence informs your work as a whole. Eggshells is a disillusioned hippie movie from the midst of the hippie movement (the wedding scene in particular speaks to this disillusionment as well as the way that women are treated by the male characters throughout, among other less-concrete elements). Texas Chainsaw is, in my mind, the ultimate disillusioned hippie movie. If 2001 spoke to humanity’s limitless utopian possibilities, Chainsaw shows our opposite, more cynical (and realistic) devolution into madness and chaos. I see your subsequent work as being that of someone who came of age with very specific ideals who had the misfortune of seeing those ideals crushed. Midnight Movie hinted at this as well. Can you respond to these thoughts or in the very least answer regarding the influence of Kubrick on those first three films (Chainsaw in particular)? Thanks!