‘This guy directed the Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Sicko! I’m not going to see it so! ‘ – Fickle, sensitive, ignorant moviegoer type, March 1981
Yes, Tobe Hoopers career long slump is one of the more depressing film industry tales of the last few decades. Time and time again, it seems the guy has been given a budget by investors, occasionally a script and seems to without fail churn out absolute nonsense though in the case of Lifeforce, entertaining genre nonsense. I could be argued looking back over the dearth of ‘good films on his resume since oh, around 1986? that Mr Hooper, now in his early 70’s has been forced down a long, dark path of direct to video schlock. So the question is surveying the sad DVD covers of The Mangler, Crocodile, The Djinn and The Toolbox Murders did he ever really have ‘it’ in the first place? Maybe TCM was a fluke and after that, there was no more juice to be squeezed out of the old idea box. Maybe if he had tried his hand at different types of films as opposed to horror, then he could have…oh, what’s the point of what ifs? Let’s just accept the fact he made one if not the greatest American horror films of all time and gave us the batshit Lifeforce, childhood favourite Poltergeist, Salems Lot and this creepy little gem; a stylish little American Gothic in which annoying teenagers are menaced at a carnival run by crazy carny folk. Produced by Universal Studios, the birthplace of horror cinema and the spiritual home of Senor Speilbergo, no doubt the disciplined fright chops Hooper showed in this got him the job on Poltergeist only a year later.