Tobe Hooper, ‘Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ director, dies at 74

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 05: Producer Tobe Hooper arrives at the premiere of New Line's 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning' at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on October 5, 2006 in Los Angeles, California.

LOS ANGELES — Tobe Hooper, the horror-movie pioneer whose low-budget sensation “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” took a buzz saw to audiences with its brutally frightful vision, has died. He was 74.

The Los Angeles County coroner’s office says Hooper died Saturday in the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles. It was reported as a natural death.

Hooper and contemporaries like George Romero crafted some of the scariest nightmares that ever haunted moviegoers. He directed 1982’s “Poltergeist” from a script by Steven Spielberg and was behind the 1979 miniseries “Salem’s Lot,” from Stephen King’s novel.

But Hooper was best known for 1974’s “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.” Made for less than $300,000, the tale of the Texas cannibal Leatherface inspired an entire genre of horror films.