If there’s anything Hollywood special effects artists know well, it’s how to use stage blood to create a gory look. Your Halloween makeup and decorating efforts will be improved by following some of their tried-and-true methods.
First, you have to buy or make some fake blood, of course. We trust you don’t have plans to use the real thing!
There are dozens of recipes for making your own inexpensive version of fake blood. One ultra-simple recipe uses a tablespoon of water added to 3 tablespoons of corn syrup. That will serve as a good base. Then add red food coloring for bright, fresh-looking blood. For an aged or deep cut look, add a bit of blue. This type will work well on fake facial or arm cuts.
For applications calling for more volume or a wider area, a spray bottle works well. Thin down the mixture, whether homemade or purchased, and spritz a little on a t-shirt or prop.
Soy sauce works well for simulating blood spatter from a shotgun wound. Pour some into flexible plastic tubing and seal at one end. Use a syringe at the other end hidden inside a shirt to quickly force the sauce outward.
Another method involves using something called a ‘squib’. These are small packets containing the stage blood mixture that release their contents under pressure, usually from a fake body blow or knife stab. The packets are sewn or taped inside pockets or glued onto the skin, then covered with latex. A sharp, short pressure squeezes the packet, which bursts and splatters ‘blood’ around.
For situations calling for a thicker blend, a little corn starch or flour can make it nice and gooey. For a darker, more gel-like mixture chocolate syrup works well. To get a truly thick, wet blend that works perfectly for dripping, try some dishwashing soap mixed with gelatin. Add food coloring to get just the right color. It can be poured slowly down a fake hand to simulate an oozing wound. Yuck.
Often, stage blood is used to simulate wounds in which the liquid oozes from the mouth, nose or ears. In these applications, take care to buy or make a mixture that is safe for internal use.
Most of the blends above are harmless, provided they haven’t been exposed to air at room temperature for days. Otherwise they can serve as a medium for the growth of potentially harmful bacteria. They don’t all taste so great though. Ah, the sacrifices actors make…
Another thing to watch out for is staining. All of the mixtures above will wash out of clothing, except for those that use chocolate. If you mix that in, be prepared to discard anything it comes in contact with, unless you don’t care what the garment looks like later. Also, make sure that anyone near one of your effects doesn’t mind getting stained.