I met Tobe Hooper briefly at Wes Craven’s memorial service held at the DGA back in 2015. We didn’t get a chance to say much, but I told him that I loved Lifeforce, which I saw twice on opening weekend in 70 mm, THX (the shell casing sound effect after Caine shoots Fallada has long been a sonic detail I’ve tried to replicate in several films since).
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre remains a game-changing horror film of the 70’s. The helpless terror it induced in audiences then and today hits with visceral force because Hooper captured not just fear but a feeling of inescapable social doom that sadly has come around again all too vividly. His work in Poltergeist, alongside Spielberg, remains a benchmark of suburban horror.
But Lifeforce will always be my favorite Tobe Hooper film. It has EVERYTHING. Vampires who are aliens, astronauts who are possessed, Patrick Stewart, and a drive through zombie-infested London that holds its own against any zombie film ever made. Hooper mastered “fuck-me-shit” escalation in Lifeforce, all set to a glorious Henry Mancini score. It’s one of my annual Halloween films but this year I’ll watch it early.
Rest in peace, Mr. Hooper. Your legacy returns to that spaceship in Halley’s Comet and will live on forever.
– Patrick Lussier