So soon after the passing of George Romero, it’s sad to report that Tobe Hooper, the horror director best known for helming The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Poltergeist, died Saturday in Sherman Oaks, Calif., according to the Los Angeles County Coroner. He was 74. The circumstances of his death were not known.
The influential 1974 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre became a seminal horror title for its realistic approach and deranged vision. Shot for less than $300,000, it tells the story of a group of unfortunate friends who encounter a group of cannibals on their way to visit an old homestead. Though it was banned in several countries for violence, it was one of the most profitable independent films of the 1970s in the U.S. The character of Leatherface was loosely based on serial killer Ed Gein.
Hooper also directed the 1986 sequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, which took a more comedic approach, as part of his Cannon Films deal.
The 1982 Poltergeist, written and produced by Steven Spielberg, also became a classic of the genre. The story of a family coping with a house haunted by unruly ghosts starred JoBeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson. The film was a box office success for MGM and became the eighth-highest grossing film of the year.
After Poltergeist, Hooper directed two movies for Cannon Films, Lifeforce and Invaders from Mars, a remake of the 1953 alien movie.
His 1979 CBS miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s bestselling novel Salem’s Lot is considered by many fans to be a high-water mark in televisual horror. Combining the intrigue of a nighttime soap opera with the gothic atmosphere of a classic horror film, the two-part program was eventually reedited and released theatrically throughout Europe.
He continued working in television and film throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s, but none of the films had the impact of his early works. His other more recent works included Toolbox Murders, Crocodile, and Mortuary.
Among his other works was the music video for Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself.” In 2011 he co-authored a post-modern horror novel titled “Midnight Movie” in which he himself appeared as the main character.
Hooper continued to work on various TV series and films up until 2013, when his last film, Djinn, set in the United Arab Emirates and produced by Image Nation, was released. He is survived by two sons.
“The Warriors” is a real peculiarity, a movie about street gang warfare, written and directed as an exercise in mannerism. There’s hardly a moment when we believe that the movie’s gangs are real or that their members are real people or that they inhabit a real city.
That’s where the peculiarity comes in: I don’t think we’re supposed to. No matter what impression the ads give, this isn’t even remotely intended as an action film. It’s a set piece. It’s a ballet of stylized male violence.
Walter Hill, the director and co-writer, specializes in fables like this. His first two films were “Hard Times” and “The Driver,” and they were both at arm’s length from realism. Hill likes characters that take on a legendary, mythic stature, and then he likes to run them through situations that look like urban tableaux.
“Hard times,” a good and interesting film, starred Charles Bronson as a professional street fist-fighter who went up against opponents with all the dimension of a James Bond villain. “The Driver” didn’t even have names for its characters; they were described by their functions, and they behaved toward each other in strangely formal, rehearsed, unspontaneous ways.
“The Warriors” takes that style to such an extreme that almost all life and juice are drained from it; there’s great vitality and energy (and choreography and stunt coordination) in the many violent scenes of gang fights and run-ins with the cops. But when the characters talk, they seem to be inhabiting a tale rehearsed many times before.
One example: Three members of a street gang are lined up in a row. The camera regards the first one. He speaks. The camera pans to the second, and he speaks. The camera pans to the third. He speaks. Because the movement of the camera dictates the order and timing of the speeches, there can be no illusion that the characters are talking as their words occur to them.
This same kind of stiff stylization dominates the film. The street gangs take stances toward each other as if they were figures in a medieval print. The deployment of the police and gang forces is plainly impossible on any realistic level; people move into their symbolic places with such perfectly timed choreography that they must be telepathic. And the chase scenes are plainly impossible, as in one extended shot showing the Warriors outrunning a rival gang’s school bus.
All of this is no doubt Walter Hill’s intention. I suppose he has, an artistic vision he’s working toward in this film, and in his work. He chooses to meticulously ban human spontaneity from his films; he allows only a handful of shallow women characters into his stories; he reduces male conduct to ritualized violence. And in “The Warriors” he chooses, with a few exceptions, to cast against type: Only three or four of the movie’s characters look and sound like plausible street-gang members. The rest look and sound like male models for the currently fashionable advertising photography combining high fashion and rough trade.
All very well, I suppose, except that Paramount chooses to advertise the movie as a violent action picture — and action audiences, I suspect, will find it either incomprehensible or laughable. Walter Hill has a considerable visual skill, and he knows what he’s doing in “The Warriors” and does it well. But is this style suited to this material? And does Hill have other notes to play? All three of his films have shown a certain skittishness in the face of human juices and the unrehearsed flow of life. And so his street gangs, and his movies, walk lockstep through sterile streets.
Ennio Morricone, (born November 10, 1928) is an Italian composer and conductor. Ennio Morricone was born in Rome, the son of Libera and Mario Morricone, a jazz trumpeter. Ennio wrote his first compositions when he was six years old and was encouraged to develop his natural talents.
For over half a century he has composed music for more than 400 motion pictures including some award-winning film scores as well as several symphonic and choral pieces. He wrote the characteristic film scores of Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns: ‘A Fistfull of Dollars’ (1964), ‘For a Few Dollars More’ (1965), ‘The Good, the Bad & the Ugly’ (1966) and ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ (1968). In the 80s and 90s, Morricone composed the considerable scores for Leone’s ‘Once Upon a Time in America’ (1984), Roland Joffe’s ‘The Mission’ (1986), Brian De Palma’s ‘The Untouchables’ (1987), Franco Zeffirelli’s ‘Hamlet’ (1990), as well as ‘Cinema Paradiso’ (1988) and ‘The Legend of 1900’ (1998).
With the score of ‘A Fistfull of Dollars’, Morricone began his 10-year collaboration with his childhood friend Allesandro Alessandroni and his Cantori Moderni. Alessandroni provided the whistling and the twanging
guitar on the film scores, while his Cantori Moderni were a flexible troupe of modern singers. Morricone specifically exploited the solo soprano of the group, Edda Dell’Orso, at the height of her powers—”an extraordinary voice at my disposal”.
Most of Morricone’s film scores of the 1960s were composed outside the Spaghetti Western genre, while still using Alessandroni’s team. Their music included the themes for Il Malamondo (1964), Slalom (1965), The Battle of Algiers (1965), and Listen, Let’s Make Love (1967). In 1968, Morricone reduced his work outside
the movie business and wrote scores for 20 films in the same year. The scores included psychedelic accompaniment for Mario Bava’s superhero romp ‘Danger: Diabolik’ (1968). The next year marked the
start of a series of evocative scores for Dario Argento’s stylized thrillers, including ‘The Bird with the Crystal Plummage’ (1969), ‘The Cat o’ Nine Tails’ (1971), and ‘Four Flies on Grey Velvet’ (1974).
In 1982, Morricone composed the score for John Carpenter’s science-fiction/horror movie ‘The Thing’ (1982) as well as Brian De Palma’s ‘Casualties of War’ (1989).
Morricone has received two Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes, five BAFTA’s during 1979–1992, seven David di Donatello, eight Nastro d’Argento, and the Polar Music Prize in 2010. He received his first Academy Award nomination in 1979, for the score to ‘Days of Heaven’ (Terence Malik, 1978). He was later nominated for a further two awards; in 1986 for ‘The Mission’ and in 1987 for ‘The Untouchables’. He later nominated for the score to ‘Bugsy’ (Barry Levinson, 1991). His last nomination was for ‘Malena’ (2000). In 2007, he received the Academy Honorary Award “for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music”. The composer also has been nominated for five Oscars in the category of Best Original Score during 1979–2001, but has never won competitively, which is typical of the Academy as they have proven time and again to be short sighted, insular and riddled with nepotism…