by Patrick Bromley
*This article was originally published on Blumhouse.com. Seeing as no trace of that site exists anymore, I thought I should reprint it here.
This history of the horror genre is one littered with “almosts” – those movie and director matchups that came so close to happening but never saw the light of day. In some alternate reality, there were movie theaters and drive-ins in the ‘80s playing Joe Dante’s Halloween III and John Carpenter’s Firestarter. George Romero should have an entire shelf of “almosts” in your movie collection, with everything from Pet Sematary to ‘Salem's Lot to Resident Evil passing through his hands at some point.
One filmmaker with a bunch of “almosts” to his name is Tobe Hooper, a cult director even within the confines of the horror genre. Because he’s my very favorite filmmakers of all time, I’m just as fascinated by the movies Hooper didn’t get to make as the ones he did. Some of the titles on this list feel like missed opportunities; in other cases, it’s best Hooper wasn’t involved. Here are five of Tobe Hooper’s “almosts.”
Albert Pyun and Stephen Herek. But the first filmmaker Cannon wanted attached to the project was none other than Tobe Hooper, who had a three-picture deal with the studio in the ‘80s – the same three-picture deal that produced Invaders from Mars, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2, and, best of all, Lifeforce. Golan and Globus reportedly didn’t fully understand the Spider-Man mythos and instead intended to make a movie about a monstrous half-human, half-spider hybrid from a script to be written by Leslie Stevens, creator of The Outer Limits. With this horror movie take on the character, it makes sense that Cannon would turn to Hooper, who left the project fairly shortly, to be replaced by another horror director, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter’s Joseph Zito. Cannon eventually sold off the rights, which put Spider-Man into limbo for over a decade as various studios and producers attempted to untangle just who could bring the superhero to the big screen. It wasn’t until Sam Raimi – another director best known for horror, as luck would have it – made Spider-Man in 2002 that audiences could finally see the character in action.
Alien, Dead & Buried) in the early ‘80s, Hooper’s name was naturally attached to direct – and in 3-D, no less. Production delays eventually led Hooper to jump ship over to Cannon, where he was given a three-picture deal and a huge budget to direct Lifeforce instead – which, incidentally, was also written by Dan O’Bannon. Given Tobe Hooper’s propensity for onscreen insanity, I think his ROTLD could have been a lot of fun (and I curse the fact that we never got to see Tobe Hooper’s 3-D movie). Hooper’s movies are often funny, but the humor is also a lot wilder and more outrageous and would likely not have been as sharp as what we eventually got. This was really a best-case scenario, as Dan O’Bannon was brought on to direct his own script and made what has become a zombie classic and Hooper got to make the batshit naked space vampire epic Lifeforce, a movie I love just as much (if not more) than ROTLD. Hooper’s fingerprints can still be felt on Return in ways both big – he is reportedly the one who recommended Bannon as director – and small, as it was Hooper who suggested the line about “skeleton farms,” according to the original DVD commentary.
The Mangler). Still, it was Hooper who developed the script, scouted and chose the locations, and, most importantly, assembled a cast of incredible actors like Oliver Reed, Klaus Kinski and Susan George all trying to out-crazy one another.
Tune in LIVE to this site for our all-day Tobe Hooper tribute on 8/26 beginning at 10 am CST!