One of the greatest American horror film directors has passed away.

Tobe Hooper, the man behind one of the greatest horror films in history and a personal favorite of mine, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, has died at the age of 74. The cause at this time is unknown.

Aside from Chain Saw, Hooper also gave us the very haunting 1982 horror film Poltergeist as well as the black comedy sequel to Chain Saw in 1986 along with others. He kept making films throughout his life, including Djinn and The Toolbox Murders.

Born on January 25, 1943 in Austin, Texas, Hooper studied filmmaking at the University of Texas-Austin. In 1970, he and friend Kim Henkel created a very bizarre film entitled Eggshells. However, in 1973, Henkel and Hooper decided to come up with a horror film. The two had come up with an idea involving a group of youngsters who are menaced by a backwoods family who are in a farmhouse.

Originally called “Headcheese”, the idea was to bring up guys like Ed Gein and Norman Bates as influences. It was while Christmas shopping at a mall that Hooper came up with the idea of the killer’s weapon of choice. Tired of the crowds, Hooper was in the hardware store when he saw chainsaws and imagined what it would be like if he chased everyone away with the chainsaw. The end result of the film? The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, released in 1974.

The film broke ground in American horror films, pioneering the slasher genre with “the final girl” being a staple of the genre based on the film.

While Hooper continued success with such films as Salem’s LotPoltergeist, and Lifeforce, he was offered a three-film contract with Cannon Films and was pressured to make a sequel to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Deciding to inject more of the dark humor intended in the original, the film would gain a cult following that still holds to this day.

Hooper was married twice, both ending in divorce and had two children, William and Tony, both involved in the film industry as well.

World Film Geek sends its condolences to the family of Tobe Hooper. As a final tribute, here is Tobe talking about his greatest film, from the documentary American Nightmare:

Rest in Peace, Tobe Hooper.