Horror director Tobe Hooper, the man behind several iconic horror movies, including The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Poltergeist, died on Saturday according to a statement from the Los Angeles County Coroner. He was 74 years old. The circumstances of his death are currently unknown.
Hooper got his start in the industry as a college professor and documentary filmmaker in the 1960s, before breaking into the horror film genre in the 1970s. His first big hit was 1974's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, a film about a group of friends who encounter a family of cannibals and which introduced the world to Leatherface for the first time. The small-budget hit (shot for $300,000) has been cited as one of the most influential horror movies of all time according to some critics, despite the fact that it was met with mixed critical praise upon first release. Many thought it was too violent, and the subject matter made it difficult for Hooper to find a distributor. Despite the early struggles, the film was a huge box-office hit.
He followed that success with a series of other massively popular horror films, including the 1986 sequel to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and the horror classic Poltergeist in 1982, which was written and produced by Steven Spielberg.
Hooper didn't just work on the big screen. In 1979, he made a jump to television to adapt Stephen King's novel Salem's Lot into a miniseries. He carried his film success along with him, as the series garnered generally positive praise. British film critic Mark Kermode called the adaptation "one of the very best screen adaptations of a Stephen King novel to date."
Hooper continued to work in television and films in the following decades, though he ventured into more traditional forms of writing with his first novel, Midnight Movie, in 2011.
Djinn, his final film project, was released in 2013 after premiering at the Dubai International Film Festival.