According to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office, Tobe Hooper, the horror film director who made the low-budget, high-earning 1974 film “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” died on Saturday in Sherman Oaks, California, at the age of 74. The cause of Hooper’s death has not yet been revealed by the coroner’s office.

Low-budget horror movie takes off directing career

Hooper was born in Austin, Tx. on January 25, 1943, and was originally a college professor, who became involved in documentaries as a cameraman. He eventually broke into the film world while directing “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” The low-budget horror movie was shot in just six weeks, costing only $300,000 but it ended up being one of the highest-grossing films ever.

According to Hooper’s IMDb biography, he used college teachers and students in the cast.

The movie, with its dark humor, soon became a cult classic and involved a family of cannibal slashers who attacked five young people in rural Texas. At the time, Hooper said he was inspired while trying to navigate through crowds in a busy department store. He said when he arrived in the hardware section he imagined cutting his way through the crowds with a chainsaw. Props reportedly included real skeletons to add to the macabre feeling of the movie, which ended up spawning a series of low-grade slasher movies.

Tobe Hooper left horror to viewer's imagination

According to critics, one of the best aspects of Hooper’s work was that he left the majority of the horror to the viewer’s imagination. In 2014, Hooper spoke to Interview Magazine and was asked why his Leatherface character in the slasher movie wore a mask. Hooper explained that when you can’t see a character’s face, your imagination runs wild, “filling in the blanks” yourself with something more interesting and scary than what is being shown on the screen.

'Poltergeist' and 'Salem's Lot'

Hooper later became involved in the 1982 Stephen Spielberg's supernatural thriller, “poltergeist,” which also went on to become hugely successful and a classic in the horror film genre.

He was also involved in the widely acclaimed television adaptation of Stephen King’s vampire novel “Salem’s Lot.” Hooper is also believed to have influenced other filmmakers, particularly Ridley Scott when he was involved in the first “Alien” movie.

While his first work for both cinema and television did extremely well, the BBC notes that his later work lacked the impact made by his earliest films. According to Variety, the final film “Djinn” was made in 2013 and was based in the United Arab Emirates. Other works in recent years were “Mortuary,” “Toolbox Murders” and he directed two episodes of the series “Masters of Horror.”