Zombie attacks. Indie horror. Haunted attractions. There is one fundamental item that ties all of these things together. A life giving substance that flows through their veins like blo– oops. I killed it. Anyways, fake blood! You can’t have a zombie costume without it. Indie horror thrives on gallons of it. You would be remiss to run a haunted house without it. Today we’re going to go over some recipes, recommendations, and tips for fake blood. Hand in hand with all this gore is zombies! So we’ll go over some techniques to spruce up your zombie costumes as well. But first, let’s get the warning out of the way.
WARNING! We are about to discuss liquids and ingredients that you or your victims may be allergic to. They may also stain. Some may be unsanitary. Sharp objects and otherwise hazardous objects will be involved as well. Be careful! Read labels and get help from an adult, or someone more responsible than you. Nobody wants to drown in a mouthful of fake blood. Keep the Fear ALIVE. Please.
First off, let’s talk about your store bought blood. Any Halloween supply store will be able to provide you with a variety of fake bloods in capsules, tubes, and bottles. None of them are very expensive, and they each serve a use. Capsules are mostly used to act out a scenario. You can bite down on one whenever you want to and have your mouth fill with blood. Tubes are usually a blood gel that is thicker and doesn’t dry and crack like the liquids tend to. Then there are bottles o’ blood. This is what I usually get if I’m buying blood. I actually have a bottle in my work vehicle year round . . . just in case. This liquid blood may dry and crack as the day wears on, but there’s enough of it to just reapply as needed. Besides, this gives you an excuse to carry a flask full of blood! Who doesn’t want a blood flask?
I wouldn’t recommend swallowing any store bought fake blood. Also, fake blood isn’t always the color or consistency you’re looking for. AND . . . well, sometimes bottles aren’t enough and you just need buckets o’ blood. That can get expensive if you’re buying it. The alternative is to make your own blood. Home brewed blood typically contains some common elements. Water with red food coloring provides a base. Then mix in some corn starch for a bit of thickness and to hold the color. You’ll want to expand on this, though. If you look online even briefly you will see a million different fake blood recipes, and everyone swears by their method. We can’t rate every recipe, but if you have ever used or made fake blood, please comment below or e-mail us and tell us about your experiences and what methods you prefer.
Flat, watery blood that soaks into your skin, clothes, and makeup just isn’t convincing. Corn syrup is a favorite to thicken the blood and give it a better consistency. It helps to keep the blood from drying and cracking, as well. I recommend adding it to the basic recipe above for use in homemade attractions and costumes. There are other popular thickening agents such as chocolate syrup, peanut butter, gelatin, etc., but diving down that rabbit hole can lead to allergy iss
ues and possibly worse, ants!
One great way to up your blood and gore game is to save your pumpkin guts after carving them. Pick out the seeds and drop the guts in a bowl of fake blood. Instant people guts! You can also use raw hamburger in your blood to make brains for your zombies to gnaw on and mush everywhere. Just be mindful about handling raw meat. There are even more film related recipesthat involve substances that should never be in someone’s mouth or near their eyes. I’m not even going to list those recipes here, I’ll leave that to you Fear Makers that have more experience with it.
One common problem with fake blood is color. It is either too pink, or it starts off a nice red and dries lighter. Especially if you are wearing lightly toned makeup. I’m looking at you, Vampire, and you too, Zombie! I know, this was much easier when your skin could be green, but unless you’re going to a hipster zombie party you’ll want some blood that’s a nice deep red. This is doubly important when your blood will be on film. On film blood always seems to be a brighter red than you intended (like our old font). While many of the syrup and flour-like ingredients in home brewed fake blood do help darken the color, you’ll still need a good red to start with. Keep your trusty red food coloring, but play around a bit. Start with a small batch and add in some blue, maybe a dash of green. Some people even swear by kool-aid. Once you get a color you like, smear some around and let it dry to see if the color holds up or if it needs to be darker.
Now for the fun stuff! By now you have buckets and buckets of the best fake blood you’ve ever made. What are you going to do with it? As much fun as it is to randomly splash blood everywhere, that often times doesn’t look very realistic. You’ll want to think of where the blood came from. If you’re a vampire or zombie, it makes sense to have bloodflowing down your chin from when you bit someone. But where else? Maybe there’s a stain on your shoulder from where you were shot. There could be some blood all over one hand and dripping down your sleeve because, remember you ripped that guys still beating heart from his chest? If your costume is more in the vein of Ash or Jason you’d be more likely to have blood sprayed across your face and body from shooting or slicing up your enemies.
For down the chin blood, simply swirl some blood around in your mouth, tilt your head back, and let it slowly flow out of your mouth. Maybe even wipe it across your face with your sleeve, if that’s what you’re character would do when dribbling. For the blood splatter effect you can use a myriad of different spray bottles, syringes, turkey basters, and tubes. The method I’ve found that works the best, though, requires a friend. Hopefully one with a costume that would have blood dripping down its chin. Have your friend swirl the blood around in their mouth (not adding saliva), andspray it at you by making a hard, “Ppp,” sound (not spitting). They should position themselves as though their mouth is the wound that sprayed you. This may not sound appealing, but there is anatural randomness to this method that I haven’t seen matched with any of the others. Honestly you’ll probably be covered in a mask or makeup anyway, but use your own judgment on this one.
Alright! We’ve got blood, we know where it’s going, now let’s talk about that zombie outfit. Zombies have always been a Halloween staple. As far as costumes go they are relatively quick, cheap, and easy. That doesn’t mean they have to be boring, though. There are a lot of simple techniques you can apply that will take your zombification to the next level. First and foremost is your back story. You need to know why you’re a zombie. Start thinking about that and we’ll come back to it.
Instead of just smearing white face paint and blood on your face, do some layers. You don’t have to be an expert, and this takes barely any extra time at all. Put some black around your eyes to give that sunken look, but also smear in a bit of red. Smear red around your mouth and nose as well. This will add a dimension of sickliness. Now, if you’re a freshly turned zombie, you won’t want much more makeup on your face. If you’ve been dead a while and you’re going for a pale face, use a gray or apply some white very lightly. Less is actually more here, unless your zombie came out of a casket. In that case they would be overly made up from the funeral makeup. Lightly drawing in some mix of black, blue, or red veins is always a nice touch as well. If you start to feel too cheesy, remember that everything looks scarier in the dark. The people you scare won’t be taking long critical looks at your makeup. They’ll be screaming and heading the other direction. If you’re not in a situation where people will be getting scared of you, then it doesn’t matter anyway. Stop doubting yourself and have fun!
Clothing & Wounds
Pause for a second before you just shred some old clothes. Think about why you were wearing those clothes when you died. Or find some clothes you can destroy and build your story around that. Think though, a zombie that crawled out of a grave would be wearing funeral garb, not jeans and a T-shirt. They also wouldn’t have any visible signs of being attacked by a zombie. They may have bullet wounds, missing limbs, and a table leg sticking out of their ribs from victimstrying to defend themselves. They may also be decaying. To make decaying clothes you can cut a few holes here and there, and pick at the edges to fray them. Then run them through the washa few times. This should aggravate the edges of the holes and make them look a bit more natural. After that you could smear dirt on yourself and the clothes before wearing them. Another option is to get the clothes wet and bury them in your back yard for a few days. Again, this all depends on your judgment.
Okay, so what if you’re a freshly turned zombie? Let’s think about your back story some more.That probably means you got bit. Maybe . . . you were asleep in your bed. You wake up to a scream as the person lying in bed next to you gets attacked. Hot blood sprays across your face. You howl in a mix of confusion, terror, and rage as you lunge at the intruder. In a tangle of bodies you smash into the nightstand and roll to the floor. The assailant comes out on top. You try to catch your breath and stay focused as you wrestle out from under the smelly bastard. You manage to knock your opponent to the ground. It actually felt like you broke a few of their bones on that last hit. Then the halting gasps from the bed behind you turn to a weak coughing fit and stop altogether. You spin around and drop to your knees. “No. Nononono NOOOOOO!” The intruder makes a rustling sound as you feel a hand snake around your ankle. You spin in a surreal fury. Is this really happening? The love of your life . . . dead? You shake the hand off and pick up the broken remains of a bedside lamp. Raising it menacingly over your head, your eyes fill with tears. They’re gone. You can almost feel the sensation of their familiar arms wrapping around you. That your love is still alive right behind you, embracing you. Nuzzling at your neck– Ouch!
Still got all that fake blood? Good. Now that you know how you became a zombie, it’s time to fill in the gaps. With gore! Once your clothing is cut and tattered (same as before, pick at the threads, run it through the wash, you remember. Just not so much dirt this time) to match any wounds you’ve endured, you need to apply the wounds. One way is to just apply blood on the skin and clothing in that area. If you care to go a bit deeper, you want Liquid Latex and Spirit Gum. We’ll go into that later. From the above scenario you could make a zombie wearing pajamas. You would have a spray of blood across your face from the initial attack to your loved one. There may be some cuts and blood here and there from smashing into the nightstand. You could reasonably have blood and gore on your hands from hitting a zombie. Maybe some scratch marks on your arms which would result in tears in your sleeves. Then there would be major trauma at you your neck. It would be reasonable to have the cloth bitten through, blood running down, and possibly even rip marks on your torso from their nails as they tried to hold you down and bite. Don’t forget that thing on the floor. I’d bet even money they gnawed on your leg a bit while you were distracted. So tear up your pant leg and limp a bit, too. Have fun with your zombie. Once you get a basic idea of how you turned, the rest will pretty much fall into place on its own.
I know some of you out there may have better methods for creating blood and zombies than I’ve outlined here. Especially when it comes to using Liquid Latex and Spirit Gum in creative ways. Comment below or e-mail us and let us know your money saving techniques for gore and costumes. Also, if you use any of the tips you find here, send us some pictures and tell us how they worked out for you.