Hooper was then offered a contract by Cannon Films to direct three films. The first was a science fiction thriller called Lifeforce (1985) about humanoid creatures from outer space who eventually cause the destruction of London. The film was based on the 1976 novel, The Space Vampires by Colin Wilson, Lifeforce was produced on a then huge budget of $25 million. Hooper was unhappy about the producers’ decision to change the title of the film from the “fun sounding” Space Vampires to the more serious Lifeforce. He was even more troubled over the producers’ decision to cut about 15 minutes of the film from the US release. Lifeforce failed to gross more than $12 million at the United States box office, but did well in overseas territories.
In 1986, Hooper remade the 1950s classic Invaders from Mars and directed the much-anticipated sequel to his first film, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Due to the failure of Lifeforce, the budget for Invaders from Mars was repeatedly slashed by the studio, and the film eventually failed at the box office, opening to mixed reviews from critics. Hooper’s next film, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, starred Dennis Hopper and had a budget of $4 million. The extra funding provided “Hollywood” production values in comparison to the microbudgeted original. However, the film failed to impress fans as it focused on black comedy and over the top gore instead of attempting to be genuinely scary. Nevertheless, the film now has a wide cult following. An uncut DVD version called “The Gruesome Edition” was released in October 2006 by MGM. It contains deleted scenes, a “making of” documentary, and commentary by Hooper and others.
Hooper’s film career stalled after the troubled productions at Cannon. In the late 1980s, and much of the 1990s, Hooper’s reputation as a bankable director was questioned due to the failure of the three films he made at Cannon. When combined, Hooper budgets came to a little more than $40 million, with a total box office income of $25 million. In 1989, Hooper had written a script treatment for a third Texas Chainsaw film, but never developed it further. Instead, he chose to focus on Spontaneous Combustion (1990), a thriller starring Brad Dourif. The film was shot on a budget of around $5 million, but was not successful. Hooper blamed this on constant rewrites and producer restraints. Hooper’s next film, Night Terrors (1993) was released straight to video. Hooper would end the decade with two other poorly received films, The Mangler (1995) and Crocodile (2000).
Hooper’s notable TV projects include the telefilms I’m Dangerous Tonight (1990) and The Apartment Complex (1999). He also directed pilot episodes for Freddy’s Nightmares (1988), Nowhere Man (1995) and Dark Skies (1996), and an episode of Tales from the Crypt; as well as the segment “Eye” from the TV trilogy film, John Carpenter’s Body Bags (1993).
New Line Cinema and Michael Bay remade Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Hooper served as producer on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), which became a box office success, grossing $120 million worldwide. In early 2003, Hooper himself remade a 1970s film entitled The Toolbox Murders (1978). Toolbox Murders (2004) received some of Hooper’s best critical reviews in years.
From 2005-2006, Showtime aired the Mick Garris-produced series, Masters of Horror. Hooper directed two episodes, Dance of the Dead (2005) and The Damned Thing (2006). The series allowed Hooper and other directors “final cut” approval, which meant freedom from interference by producers.
Hooper has a new movie, ‘Djinn‘ set for release sometime this year, however it seems to be tied up in ‘production hell’ due to its controversial subject matter in the Middle East. Also, coming soon is ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D’ directed by John Luessenhop and written by Debra Sullivan and Adam Marcus, with later drafts by Kirsten Elms and Luessenhop. It is the seventh film in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise and is a sequel to the 1974 original film, immediately picking up where it left off. Filming began in late July 2011 and is due for release October 2011.