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Tobe Hooper’s Box-Office Struggles: How Shaky Returns Undercut A Visionary Director

Tobe Hooper’s Box-Office Struggles: How Shaky Returns Undercut A Visionary Director

Tobe Hooper, who died over the weekend at 74, was a leader in the Vietnam-era boom in independent, ultra-violent horror films. His 1974 “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is considered the last in a trio of low-budget horror breakouts that included George Romero’s 1968 “Night of the Living Dead” and Wes Craven’s 1972 “Last House on the Left.”

Though grosses for these films were unreliably reported, “Texas” appears to have done the best. Its reported $30 million domestic take (adjusted, around $140 million today) was at least 100 times its budget (also a guess, though some reports have it as high as $300,000 in 1974 value). Producers recouped costs and little else from distributor Bryanston (best known for the Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey’s “Frankenstein” and “Dracula” movies, as well as taking over distribution of “Deep Throat”).

Like Romero and Craven, the hit boosted Hooper’s career. But unlike his peers, Hooper struggled to establish his brand after “Texas.

See full article on Indiewire