All 14 Tobe Hooper Horror Movies, Ranked Worst To Best
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All 14 Tobe Hooper Horror Movies, Ranked Worst To Best


  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a landmark horror film that solidified Tobe Hooper’s legacy in the genre.
  • Despite some misses like Djinn and Mortuary, Hooper’s best movies showcase his impact on horror.
  • Toolbox Murders and Poltergeist are standouts in Hooper’s career, blending gore with supernatural elements.



Over an extensive and distinguished career, Tobe Hooper established himself as one of the most influential horror filmmakers of all time. After starting in 1969 with the little-known experimental release Eggshells, Hooper made his first horror movie in 1974 with the legendary The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The legacy of this movie alone would be enough to secure Hooper a place in the horror hall of fame. However, there is much more to Hooper’s resumé than a single successful slasher.

In the years following The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Hooper dabbled with a variety of creative approaches to the genre. Some, like The Funhouse and Poltergeist, achieved mainstream notoriety and success, while others have been restricted to more cult followings. While not every Tobe Hooper horror movie has been a hit, the impact of his best movies proves that he is one of the genre’s most important operators.


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14 Djinn


A character with her hands to her face in the 2013 Tobe Hooper movie Djinn

Widely panned on release, Djinn represents a disappointing swansong for Hooper. The final film made before the director’s death in 2017, the movie pulls on traditional Emirati legends to build its mythology of a sinister presence dwelling within an apartment block. Unfortunately, the movie was criticized for poor effects, a clichéd script, and scares that borrowed directly from genre classics like The Grudge. The movie currently sits at 9% on Rotten Tomatoes – comfortably the worst of Hooper’s career.

13 Crocodile


A woman returning a mother croc's stolen egg in Tobe Hooper's Crocodile

An exemplar of so-bad-it’s-good filmmaking, Crocodile is both terrible and highly entertaining. Most of the enjoyment stems from genuinely laughable special effects, with the titular killer croc often looking as if it was rendered on an early edition of Microsoft Paint. Given the by-the-numbers story of a crocodile hunting would-be revelers, it’s unsurprising that Crocodile was a straight-to-video release – and is therefore not indicative of Tobe Hooper’s best work as a director.

12 Mortuary


mortuary 2005 having dinner at the table

A zombie flick that mixes family drama with biological horror, Mortuary captures Hooper’s knack for manic storytelling – albeit without the nuance found in his best movies. The movie follows a family who try to come to terms with the loss of their father by moving to a mortuary, where they are set upon by a local legend/expanding zombie horde. The movie holds an 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was criticized for its combination of poor character development and unbelievable story – even by the standards of an unrealistic genre.


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11 Night Terrors


Nigh Terrors 1993 Robert Englund

Despite including some impressive personnel, such as Hooper himself and horror legend Robert Englund, Night Terrors is a mess that suffered from multiple behind-the-scenes issues. Originally intended to focus on the Marquis de Sade, the movie morphed into an amalgamation of several of the controversial author’s short stories. Hooper was only hired after the production shifted from Egypt to Tel Aviv, and so is perhaps not directly responsible for all the movie’s many shortcomings. Nevertheless, Night Terrors is less than the some of its parts – especially considering the pairing of Hooper and Englund.

10 The Mangler


William "Bill" Gartley in The Mangler.

Based on a Stephen King short story of the same name, The Mangler is another Englund/Hooper collaboration that failed to live up to expectations. The plot centers around a possessed laundry press that, after a bizarre accident, tries to eat anyone who comes into contact with it. Englund and fellow horror legend Ted Levine attempt to infuse the material with some gravitas, but The Mangler is much more funny than scary. However, the movie’s outlandish premise does lead to some extremely entertaining, if implausible, death scenes.

9 Spontaneous Combustion


Spontaneous Combustion brad dourif smoking

Although it received extremely negative reviews on release, Spontaneous Combustion is an undeniably entertaining movie. Revolving around a scientist who discovers that he can control fire and electricity, the movie boasts a fabulously eccentric central performance from Brad Dourif, who is fully committed to the eyebrow-raising material throughout. The result is a movie that, while thin on plot and character development, is extremely watchable – albeit never at any point remotely scary.

8 Eaten Alive


Robert Englund smiling in Eaten Alive

Despite being significantly less well-received than Hooper’s other 1970s horror movie, Eaten Alive has garnered a cult following since its release. Like Crocodile, Eaten Alive centers on a man-eating crocodilian that attacks unfortunate guests at a decrepit hotel. Unlike the later movie, however, Eaten Alive boasts the reckless energy and commitment to bizarre concepts that defines Tobe Hooper’s best work. As more characters arrive at the Starlight Hotel and are systematically disposed of, the movie becomes increasingly reminiscent of Psycho – but with more scales. It’s far from perfect, but Crocodile is certainly Hooper’s superior reptile creature feature.


The killer wearing a mask and holding up a tool in The Toolbox Murders

A remake of a 1978 slasher movie, Toolbox Murders is recognized by many as a return to form for Hooper, following a string of flops in the 80s and 90s. Following the inhabitants of an apartment who are attacked by a strange masked killer, the movie blends realistic gore with supernatural elements. This combination, while occasionally confusing, results in a broadly effective genre mash-up. While some viewers criticized the more outlandish aspects of the story, the film was generally regarded as an improvement over the original. Toolbox Murders holds a 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes – one of the highest of Hooper’s career.



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6 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2


The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

One of the most bizarre sequels of all time, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 has almost nothing in common with its predecessor – save for chainsaws. Unlike the genuinely terrifying, savage thrills of the original, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is an outrageous horror comedy and one of the most violent movies ever made. Banned in multiple countries for its excessive gore, critical reaction has softened in recent years. With a 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, some now regard the movie as a satire on excess – albeit one with the subtlety of a power tool to the face.

5 Invaders From Mars


MARTIAN INVADERS - Invaders From Mars

Written by Alien‘s Dan O’Bannon, Invaders From Mars is a surprisingly effective remake of a forgotten 1953 extraterrestrial movie of the same name. Set in a small suburban town, the film revolves around 12-year-old David. It’s this childlike sensibility that helps it succeed, as the movie is deliberately designed to not take itself too seriously. The movie’s over-the-top practical effects and bizarre plot details, such as alien mind control devices being implanted into peoples’ necks, make Invaders From Mars fun, if forgettable.

4 Lifeforce


woman reaching out in lifeforce 1985

On the surface, Lifeforce‘s main premise of “Space Vampires” makes it easy to dismiss off the bat. However, beyond the deliberately ridiculous set-up, the movie remains one of the best examples of Hooper’s taste for the outlandish and his skills as a filmmaker. Starring Patrick Stewart and Steve Railsback, the movie expertly mixes science fiction with horror, as a group of extraterrestrial vampires attempt to take over the world. Although it polarized critics, the film demonstrates Hooper’s singular ability to turn outrageous concepts into great entertainment.


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3 The Funhouse


Elevated above many genre contemporaries by Tobe Hooper’s direction, The Funhouse represents the filmmaker’s first foray into major studio work. The movie follows a group of four teenagers as they attempt to survive the night trapped in a carnival rise while being stalked by a dangerous killer. Although the premise is nothing original, The Funhouse exemplifies the suspense and tension that define all of Tobe Hooper’s best movies, all while throwing some oblique humor into the mix.

2 Poltergeist


In some circles, Tobe Hooper’s involvement in Poltergeist is still considered controversial. Interviews following the film’s release from various cast and crew members have offered conflicting reports on whether it was Hooper or Steven Spielberg who had primary creative input. What is clear, however, is that the resulting movie is a seminal horror masterpiece. Blending terrifying practical effects with a time-honored tale of vengeful spirits, Poltergeist is rightly regarded as a classic 1980s horror movie and one of the best in Hooper’s career.

1 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre


One of the most shocking, provocative, and important horror movies ever made, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre remains a landmark moment in the genre’s history. Hooper’s movie originated many staple horror and slasher movie ideas, such as the monstrous main antagonist and the use of power tools as weapons. It is also one of the most viscerally intense movies ever released, with creeping tension exploding in a crescendo by the film’s end. Despite being one of his earliest projects, Tobe Hooper never topped his 1974 masterpiece.

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