Thursday, September 18, 2014

Blood on film - You Are What You Bleed

Disgusting, despicable, deplorable – dissecting the development of blood in film!



bloody good cherry pie!

bloody good cherry pie!



Ever wonder how “blood” is made for film? Or, what blood is made of? Well, lets start off with the important fact that its not actual #blood, though it may look as if it is. That is all due to the magic of movies and a remarkable team of  #MakeupArtists, #SpecialEffects artists and #Craftsmen. Blood has been apart of cinema since #Horror films began. It came in the form of paint, powders and pastes and plenty of other sticky, gooey substances. As film became more of an art form and more sophisticated, so did the technique & care of blood-making.


In present day, HD quality film and television demands that filmmakers present the most realistic version of blood out there….often more “realistic” than actual blood itself.

Blood is not for the squeamish and faint of heart. It exists in every human and animal, in our memories, our imaginations and our nightmares. It is the job of a good filmmaker to show us what that could look like…and the job of a great filmmaker to make us believe it.


Take, for example, Alfred Hitchcock’s #Psycho (1960), released through #ParamountPictures starring #AnthonyPerkins, #VeraMiles and #JanetLeigh.

For Hitchcock, he did not have the added pressure of developing “blood” with the perfect shade of red as the film was shot in black and white, however, that meant that the consistency of the liquid had to be just right….the density was all he had to go on, the only convincing element to his concoction. After several tests and experiments, he found his blood of choice….chocolate syrup! You will never look at your ice cream sundae the same again……



The evolution of movie blood can not be discussed without bringing the great #DickSmith into the mix (pardon the pun).  Nicknamed the “Godfather of Makeup”, Smith was responsible for the nauseating effects of some of the most gruesome scenes in film history. Having titles like #TheGodfather, #TaxiDriver and #TheExorcist helped earn him an honorary Academy Award for his greater body of work in 2012. (Wikipedia, September 9, 2014).

His legacy, aside from having a hand in the making of some of Hollywood’s greatest masterpieces, the perfect recipe for fake blood:


• 1 quart white corn syrup

• 1 level teaspoon methyl paraben

• 2 ounces Ehlers red food coloring

• 5 teaspoons Ehlers yellow food coloring

• 2 ounces Kodak Photo-Flo (Poisonous)


This recipe added more realism than the studios thought the public could handle and with the help of lighting and shading, the blood was given a tone more like “sepia”, which kept the film’s rating at “R”, rather than “X”. (Wickman, Forest. “A Brief History of Fake Blood.” Slate, Oct. 22 2013. web. Sept. 9, 2014.)


Here’s where things get “sticky”, so to speak:



Of course, some representations of the substance have been a #failure beyond failures, such as the b-film horrors of the 60′s & 70′s – #Blacula,  which has more of a shiny orange marmalade resemblance than one of blood, if it shows any blood at all.



But that’s what you get with a shoe-string budget and a ticking clock!


We have come along way since the days of Hitchcock’s chocolate syrup. As filmmaking has changed, so has the techniques of makeup application and special effects, however, one thing remains the same, if you can eat it, you can certainly bleed it…