Hooper went to great lengths to authenticate Massacre. Like the chain saw, the skeletons we see in the movie are actual human bones shipped over from India ("It was less expensive," he said.) Then there were the faked props that, in retrospect, completely flip the grueling narrative on its head. According to an interview with Indiewire, Leatherface's mask was "very fragile, made of coat hanger and some kind of parchment paper to make it look like dried skin. It wasn’t rubber like they’ve been ever since." No one touched those but Leatherface, he said.
Leatherface's rust-and-blood carnage is preserved in Hooper's film, but in 40 years, time has had its way with the legacy. Countless remakes have come through the corporate pipeline (the latest, Leatherface, is out on VOD now); the house on Quick Hill Road is gone, broken down, reassembled and renovated on a new site, the original patch of land paved over for a commercial business center. The patch of road where Leatherface chased Sally is overgrown and cracked.
But the chain saw, according to multiple sources, is safe. Hooper kept the handheld machine under glass (along with one of the meat hooks, and a hitchhiker corpse) for the years after his tumultuous shoot. He knew what audiences knew: Texas Chain Saw Massacre was an instant classic, and every piece of the puzzle was worth hanging on to.
At a recent screening of the film in Los Angeles, The Exorcist director William Friedkin, one of Hooper's biggest fans, asked him whether or not he thought Massacre was art.
“Should I be modest?” he asked back, before coming out with it. "It's a... work of art."