Friday, September 15, 2017

....a farewell to Tobe Hooper

DISCLAIMER - My blog is an attempt to show respect to films some small minded, intellectually dishonest hipsters automatically label "bad". There is no film I discuss here that I believe to be bad at all.  The title of the blog comes from a discussion that took place some years ago when I was trying to explain the appeal of these films. The title is not meant to suggest I think these films are bad in the least.  Remember - ART IS ART!

I've re-written this short essay twenty times.  I've really struggled with it because you really only get to say goodbye once.  And for Tobe Hooper I've wanted desperately for it to be perfect.  I've written essays where I go into his amazing filmography and other versions I tried, in almost painful detail, to explain why he was, and always will be, a personal favorite of mine.

And so, weeks after he has left I still struggle to write about the hole his departure left, and because I don't have a billionth of the talent he had, I have to just come to grips with the fact I need to write a note to him to say so long, but, it won't be the one he deserves.

I was a reader of Fangoria magazine from its first issues (which I was I still had) and thanks to Fango I had developed an appreciation for Tobe Hooper almost two years before I managed to see The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  In fact, the first Hooper films I ever saw were Eaten Alive (some years before I even cared who directed a film) and the Salem's Lot television movie.  It wasn't until a year before Poltergeist came out that TCM screened at my local drive-in.

The anticipation to see a film I'd been reading about for years was intoxicating.  But, when my Dad parked the car just before dusk that night I was a bit nervous.  I wondered, what if I don't think it is as good as everyone says?  A foolish thought in retrospect.

I remember that night vividly.  Not because I'm a sadist and enjoyed watching people suffer but because the film dragged you in and made you live everything that was going on. My Dad and I had watched hundreds of films, and nothing grabbed me by the collar the way TCM did. 

When I heard about The Fun House,  I must have bugged my Dad for weeks before that film opened to make certain he'd take me.  For those of you who have seen know it is brilliant.  And for those of you who haven't yet, stop reading this, find it, watch it and come back to finish the essay.  What a film - atmospheric, claustrophobic, scary as hell.  Sure, as a young genre fan I loved me some Romero and some Carpenter...but, Tobe Hooper was my guy. Somehow I was convinced, when it came to seeing the cockeyed and weird in the world he and I were kindred spirits.

Obviously I was happy for Tobe when I read that he would be directing the Spielberg produced film Poltergeist ...and was hurt when shortly after its release the whispers of "Hooper didn't direct it...Spielberg did" began to crop up.  I always wondered "where did that come from?" The film SCREAMS Hooper.  Perhaps in this chaotic, 24 hours news cycle piece of shit world we live in, Spielberg has come out and made it clear to the world that Hooper directed that picture (which he should have done years ago) and I simply missed it.  If he hasn't, I don't think I care to have much more to do with Steven Spielberg...I'm sure he'll live.

Nostalgia takes over a bit - I saw Lifeforce, Invaders from Mars and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 at what was, looking back, the greatest days of my life.  When I still thought I'd be a writer, do things, love happy.  And you know what happens when I watch those movies now?  They still bring that joy - maybe I could write these crazy stories, do things, love happy. 

But, that feeling passes pretty quickly - usually right after the movie ends.

My oldest is 20 years old.  He doesn't understand when I talk about these things.  And he won't...not for another 30 years when he starts to see his youth die away like I am now. 

In a single year so many of the writers, actors and directors I loved and respected passed away.  There was writing on the wall but I didn't read it.  Then my Dad got sick - that moment you come to the personal realization that everything -everything- you had when you were young is going to leave you no matter how much you kick and scream...and so he did.  When I got home last month from watching some amazing movies at the New Beverly and read that Tobe had died there was sadness...and resignation..and anger. 

My guy was gone.

So Mr. Hooper, all I can say is thank you for everything  - every frame you shot, every word you wrote, spoke or thought, every brilliant second you stomped foot on the Terra - thank you. I am so sorry what I've written does not do you justice.

I'll leave you with a cliche.  But, remember cliches become cliches because there is truth at the core.

Whoever or whatever you love - love it entirely, completely and without ceasing because no matter what you do it will eventually slip away from you. And the only tragedy in that will be having not loved it enough. 

Love it so much you can die without regret.

Love it so much the phrase "should have been" never crosses your mind.


Miss you Pops

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