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October 22, 2013

A brief history of fake blood

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In fact, the new blood quickly proved a little too real. When the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) got its hands on "Taxi Driver" and its climactic bloodbath, they threatened it with an X rating. Columbia Pictures told director Martin Scorsese that if he didn't recut the movie to an R, which would mean hacking away at the finale, they would do it for him. Scorsese came up with a solution: To make the blood look less realistic, he desaturated its color until it took on more of a sepia tone. Scorsese has said that he secretly thought the new blood was even more disturbing, but the MPAA gave the movie an R.

Today there are dozens of different recipes for movie blood, though many are simple variations on Dick Smith's formula. For edible blood — essential if the fake blood might get in the actor's mouth, or if a scene requires that the actor cough it up — there are recipes for "Chocolate Blood" and "Peanut Butter Blood." For "Evil Dead" fans, there's Bruce Campbell's recipe for another edible blood, which uses non-dairy creamer. For those who don't want to do the work of making the blood themselves, fake blood for movies is also available commercially: Robert Benevides, who teaches special effects makeup at New York University's Tisch School, told me that the best blood today is an alcohol-based blood called Fleet Street Bloodworks, which retails at $65 per pint.

Often several different kinds of blood are used for the same movie. In addition to whether the blood is edible, each blood is selected according to the lighting, whether the blood should slowly dry or stay wet, whether it's arterial (lighter) or venous (darker), and what kind of style the director is looking for. For one of his gorier plays, writer-director Martin McDonagh used nine distinct varieties of fake blood. And some filmmakers still want the old-fashioned stuff: For the nightclub massacre in "Kill Bill, Vol. 1" (2003), Quentin Tarantino ordered more than 100 gallons of "samurai blood." "I'm really particular about the blood, so we're using a mixture depending on the scenes," he explained. "I say, 'I don't want horror movie blood, all right? I want Samurai blood.' . . . You have to have this special kind of blood that you only see in Samurai movies."

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New England News
Obituaries
  • Alan J. Walker, 68

    Kingston, N.H. — Mr. Alan James Walker, 68, passed away peacefully at his home on July 8, 2014, after a long, brave battle with cancer.

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  • James Reese

    Raymond, NH — James Edwin Reese, 74, passed away on Wednesday, July 16, 2014, surrounded by his family and friends at his home in Raymond, N.H. He was the son of John and Ruth Reese, born on Oct. 29, 1939 in Edensburg, Pa. James graduated from Central Cambria High School in Pennsylvania before proudly serving in the U.S. Army as a food inspector. His military service was followed by 31 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a meat inspector. Mr. Reese was an avid outdoorsman and spent much of his time fishing, camping and hiking in the White Mountains. He became involved in the Boy Scouts and enjoyed passing on his vast knowledge of the wilderness to others. Throughout his retirement years he enjoyed woodworking, raising rabbits and working in his garden.

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  • Velma J. Reid

    South Hampton, NH — Velma J. Reid, 80, died peacefully on July 17, 2014 at Exeter Hospital, surrounded by family. She was born in Haverhill, Mass. on June 8, 1934, the daughter of the late George C.W. and Alta I. (Kimball) Haynes. A graduate of Haverhill High School, Velma worked at Western Electric until she had children. For years, she was a devoted “stay-at-home” mom who raised her three children in a loving, nurturing environment. She later worked various manufacturing jobs until her retirement. After retiring, she volunteered her time at various organizations and was very involved at the East Kingston Community United Methodist Church as a member of the women’s guild, assisting with the holiday fair, and helping out wherever she could. She had a passion for animals, and would donate money, food, and blankets to the NH SPCA. She loved to sew and made a personalized quilt for every member of her family. She was also a member of the “Ugly Quilts” group, which made blankets and sleeping bags for the homeless using recycled fabric. She is survived by her husband, Clyde Reid of South Hampton, N.H.; daughter, Pam Eaton of Danville, N.H.; son and daughter-in-law, Douglas and Kim Reid of Raymond, N.H.; daughter, Shirley Reid of South Hampton, N.H.; two sisters, Gwen Stuart of Haverhill, and Norma Taplin of Dracut; four grandchildren, Cheryl and Marc Welch, and Kristen and Joshua Reid, and several nieces and nephews.

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  • Carleen A. Knowlton, 80

    Danville, NH — Carleen A. (Rhoadhouse) Knowlton, 80, of Danville and formerly of Hampstead, died on July 7, 2014, at her home.

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  • Miriam O. (Graham) Graham, 84

    Kingston, NH — Miriam O. (Graham) Graham, 84, a resident of Kingston since 2001, and former longtime resident of Grafton, Mass., died peacefully, surrounded by her family, on July 11, 2014, following a long illness.

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