Chainsaws, Film, and Tobe Hooper

Tobe HooperOn this day in 1627, the great scientist Robert Boyle was born. He did a whole lot of stuff (hence “scientist”) but he is mostly known for Boyle’s Law. This is the observation that the pressure of a gas is inversely proportional to its volume. In chemistry, we normally learn this as a subset of the ideal gas law: PV = nRT. So as you can see, this is Boyle’s Law when temperature is held constant: PV = k. Anyway, I long for the days when all of this was new and exciting and I worried about the difference between ideal and real gases.

The great mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange was born in 1736. He did many amazing things with math that I only vaguely understand. But I mostly love him because of Lagrangian mechanics. And you know me: anything that makes classical mechanics more fun is a wonderful thing. I’m just a crazy like that. Of course, it is only with Legendre’s work that it all gets crazy fun. But we’ll have to go into that later.

The great Scottish poet Robert Burns was born in 1759. I’m very fond on him to a large extent because of his political beliefs. I think they were, at base, very much like those of Thomas Paine, although I’m very aware just how broad a generalization that is regarding both men. But he was also a great lyricist. How can you not love something like “A Red, Red Rose”:

O my Luve’s like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly play’d in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry…

The great Etta James was born in 1938. It is hard for me to believe that she’s been dead for two years now. Here she is doing “I’d Rather Be Blind” at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1975:

Other birthdays: the great Dutch Golden Age painter Govert Flinck (1615); philosopher Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (1743); the great writer Somerset Maugham (1874); another great writer Virginia Woolf (1882); bluesman Sleepy John Estes (1899); the real Sybil, who almost certainly didn’t have multiple personalities, Shirley Ardell Mason (1923); and the great medium distance runner Steve Prefontaine (1951).

The day, however, belongs to Tobe Hooper who is 71 today. He is best know for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of that film. But when it came out, everyone expected great things of Hooper, because young independent horror filmmakers often go on to do great works later. Hooper, not so much. Mostly, he’s just gone on to make other horror films. And I think that’s great. Making horror films is a great thing to do. And Hooper has made some really good ones, including the megahit Poltergeist. I think he will be appreciated a lot more in 20 years than he is now (unlike Sam Raimi). I mean, after watching the following trailer for Spontaneous Combustion, how can not want to see it?

Happy birthday Tobe Hooper!

3 thoughts on “Chainsaws, Film, and Tobe Hooper

  1. I never saw "Chainsaw." My loss. I saw "Poltergeist" with a bunch of other kids at a sleepover in a Jewish home and, man, that stuff with scraping off your own face in a sink totally spooked me out.

    My kid brother (later, my Bain brother) went through a phase of watching every single sick twisted horror film while staying at home through our mom’s good graces. I was 24, he was 16. We used to love Joe Bob’s "Monstervision" on TNT.

    There’s something more than a bit twisted about your average splatter movie. Real barely subsumed rage about being straight and not getting laid.

    We did enjoy the movies by splatter master Peter Jackson. And thought he would be the perfect guy to bring Tolkein to the screen. Good sense of horror, ability to make monsters vivid. As it happens, I still adore his "Fellowship Of The Ring" movie. The rest, not so much. He kinda got crazy. But I will always love the spooky wizard talking down the hobbit in "LOTR" 1, and the magic trees stomping on bad guys in "LOTR" 2.

  2. @JMF – I tried watching [i]Fellowship[/i], but it just annoyed me. I don’t blame Jackson. I’m not really a fan of the books. I would have given [i]The Hobbit[/i] a go, but I don’t see any reason to make it three films other than money. I loved Jackson’s [i]King Kong[/i], though. It’s very likely the best special effects movie ever.

  3. "Heavenly Creatures" was something else, well worth looking at. I saw "Fellowship" with a fellow fantasy nerd, and we decided we could not watch the film straight. Ergo, baked out to hell on seriously high-quality weed before the movie started.

    As it turned out, we needn’t have bothered to hide. Tolkein geeks were toking up in the movie theater. I don’t remember much of that night, but I remember Gandalf putting some serious petulance on Ian Holm. That was cool. Also, orcs.

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