Joe Prachatree/ShutterstockIf you’re a fan of scary movies, you’ve probably seen your share of fake blood. (If not, we don’t blame you—and neither does science.) 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.
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!
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 (one of our favorite horror movies of all time) 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. (Did you know that the director of The Exorcist witnessed a real-life exorcism?) 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.)
If blood’s not your thing, check out these other Halloween makeup tips.