The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

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October 22, 2013

A brief history of fake blood

(Continued)

The newest fake blood isn't made out of chocolate syrup or non-dairy creamer: It's made out of pixels. This CGI blood has been used not just for horror movies and schlocky action flicks like "The Expendables 2" (for which all the blood was CGI), but for key sequences in movies like David Fincher's "Zodiac" (2007) and Michael Mann's "Public Enemies" (2009). The CGI blood allowed Mann to show a bullet exiting John Dillinger's cheek without having to cover Johnny Depp's face in prosthetics. Fincher reportedly preferred CGI blood because it allowed him to shoot many takes without having to wait around between each one for setup and cleanup.

But both CGI blood and the practical stuff have their shortcomings. For the original "Carrie," a combination of Karo syrup and food coloring looked great, but it was "sticky," star Sissy Spacek later recalled: "When they lit the fires behind me to burn down the gym," she said, "I started to feel like a candy apple." (Bruce Campbell has had similar issues: At one point during the making of "Evil Dead," his shirt hardened and "broke.") For the new "Carrie," CGI blood was reportedly used for some scenes, angering fans who have complained that it looks fake. These fans may be worried that CGI blood is replacing all practical makeup, but, according to effects coordinator Warren Appleby, the old-fashioned stuff is still very much alive: He and his crew used "upwards of 300, 400 gallons . . . just for the iconic blood drop."

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