Hey, my little creeps, I am back again with some more intriguing content on blood. Today we are going to be talking about the cinematic history of fake blood. So not only are we getting gory but we are diving straight into the rich history of film from the very beginning. Fake Blood has been around for hundreds of years. Constantly changing, people create new recipes to cater to their needs. Fake blood is a major prop in horror films and continues to get more realistic as the years go by. By the end of this post your mind will be blown and their will blood all over the walls. Did I take that a little to far, probably? But hey if you keep on reading you will understand why! So if your curious, I promise this will not disappoint. It all started with…
Founded on a formal chapel in Paris, France the Grand-Guignol “Theater of big puppet” sat still but inside the walls of that theater, history was made. This was the first theater to feature body dismemberment, eye gauging and a lot of blood to follow. Now you may have heard during these times their recipe for blood, came straight from an animal its self. As if taking a body apart one by one in front of a live audience was not enough. I am here to tell all you believers that is just not true, I am sorry but it just isn’t very logical. Morally it isn’t okay, ethical no, and definitely not sanitary.
I actually have the recipe siting right next to me. They used equal parts pure glycerin and carmine. Pure Glycerin can be found in any drugstore and it is used for moisturizing your skin. Which was great because it was safe to use on the skin in large or small batches. Carmine, is a small red bug, that is boiled, then drained to obtain the red pigment. Sounds kinda gross, but here is another fun fact for you. Carmine is used heavily in our everyday lives from using it in dyes, makeup and get this it is used a lot in the food industry. Carmine is also known as natural red 4.
This recipe was great because it was safe to use around skin and the mouth. It was also great because it would thicken as it sat so it would create that ooey gooey texture we all know and love. When they needed something that created more of a scab blood texture, they would use current jelly. Kind of genius for this time period!
Black & White(Beginning of Film)
So when film started to take flight, plays took to the back burner and black & white silent films emerged. In 1915, we saw the first bloodshed know to man in a film called Intolerance, during a battle scene, directed by D. W Griffith same director as birth of a nation. Now I may not agree with some things he has done or his beliefs but I have to say this, it is part of history. After that movie was released most horror movies afterwards would steadily favor a more Gothic mood.
In 1922 Nofestry features one of the characters cutting his finger and a dot of blood the size of a dime trickles out. This was the most blood seen in a film up to this point. About a decade later the infamous Dracula was released once again favoring a dark tone but nothing too horrific. 1931’s Dracula recreated the bleeding finger scene and that movie was about vampires. A little sad compared to the gore we know all about today.
During the 30s the Hayes code was made stating that, “Brutal killings are not to be presented in detail.” So for the longest time displaying blood and gore would be considered illegal and did not often happen, if ever at all. Thank god for the supreme court for ruling that this was considered freedom of speech and therefore you can put whatever or however much gore you would choose to in film. This however did not happen until the 1950s by Joseph Burstyn, Inc v. Wilson
So once they could incorporate blood into their films, they most definitely did. In the form of good old chocolate syrup. It was perfect because the dark color of the syrup contrasted very well in black and white films. It was also very affordable, safe to use, it had the perfect texture and it tasted good!
Bleeding in Color
With the invention of colored film became a whole new advanced era of blood and gore, that became more realistic in movies and television. Chocolate syrup could no longer make the cut. In 1957 The Curse of Frankenstein made its debut, painting the town in red. This movie featured more of a fluorescent red which was know as the Kensington gore blood age.
Florescent blood seemed very unrealistic and Hershell Gordon Lewis, an American filmmaker took notice of this. He then hired Barfred Laboratories to create a more believable recipe for blood. So in 1963, kensington gore had left the stage and the blood fest began. This was when The Shining came out using the new recipe of blood. Which was two parts golden syrup, 1 part water, cornstarch(for thicker texture, to seem like it was coagulated blood), Peppermint oil(which was great for keeping the bugs away), red, yellow and blue food coloring.
But the man who revolutionized blood goes to the makeup artist, Dick Smith. After they had achieved the perfect color of blood during the blood fest era, dick smith would achieve the perfect texture. The reveal for the recipe will come in later date, so stay tuned. Past Bloods had always just laid on top of clothes and yes it looked like blood but it did not have the same characteristics as real blood did. Seeing the difference is quite dramatic, so dramatic that movies such as the exorcists, taxi driver and the godfather would receive backlash at how realistic the blood scenes would get.
In fact, the movie, Taxi Driver, was threatened by the MPPDA to receive an x rated review because the scenes were too realistic. To avoid this, the director Martin Scorsese, decided to destaturate the entire movie to make the blood more presentable, giving it a darker tone. Dick Smith’s blood recipe was then passed down to Weinstein, Baker, Boutin and others. Recipes for blood are ever-changing. The technique of making blood scenes more presentable has passed down as well. For example in Kill Bill: Volume One, when she is single handily slaughtering the crazy eight gang, it goes into black in white. For two reasons one a form of desaturation and two paying an homage to Japanese kung fu fighting TV shows. But when released in japan they kept the scene full color and full of blood.
We have met our bloody end..
Alright, my little creeps, that is all I have for you today. Hopefully you have a bunch of really cool fun facts to share now. I loved writing on this and I hope you enjoyed it too. If you have any further questions or comments, please leave them below. Until next time, your Yoda is signing out. Next time around I have some bloody good things for you!