Here’s What the Fake Blood You See in Movies Is Really Made Of

If you're in the mood to step up your Halloween costume game, here's some bloody inspiration from the greats.

Fake-bloodJoe Prachatree/ShutterstockIf you’re a fan of scary movies, you’ve probably seen your share of fake blood. How do film crews make the creepy concoction?

Well, a video from the American Chemical Society recently dove into the sticky science of it all. There are actually many different recipes that various filmmakers have used over the years to put the gore in gory. Things like color constraints and budget restrictions have led to a few different mixtures. These horror films are inspired by real-life events.

Firstly, fake blood was used onstage for years before it was used onscreen. A Parisian theater famously mixed carmine pigment, glycerol, and a thickening agent to create their fake blood. As cinema gained popularity, though, things changed. Famous thrillers like Psycho and Night of the Living Dead had to scrap this recipe after the discovery that it really wasn’t effective in black-and-white. Alfred Hitchcock’s choice for that famous Psycho shower scene? Chocolate syrup! Check out these true ghost stories from the most haunted places in the world.

A mixture called “Kensington Gore” set the standard for red-colored fake blood with its use of sugary syrup and food dye. Horror classics like Evil Dead and Carrie used a recipe that you can make yourself! If you want to try it out this Halloween, it’s ultra-simple. Corn syrup, non-dairy creamer, and food coloring are the only ingredients you need. Celebrated makeup artist Dick Smith put a twist on the corn syrup recipe with a preservative called methylparaben. This mixture added the ick factor to the film The Exorcist. The basic corn syrup-based recipe has stood the test of time and still features in films to this day.

Check out the full video for a more detailed look at the chemistry of fake blood throughout the history of cinema. (Just a heads up: There is lots of fake blood in this video about, you know, fake blood.) Next, check out the scariest movies of all time.

Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a Staff Writer for RD.com who has been writing since before she could write. She graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English and has been writing for Reader's Digest since 2017. In spring 2017, her creative nonfiction piece "Anticipation" was published in Angles literary magazine. She is a proud Hufflepuff and member of Team Cap.