32 oz corn syrup
500 ml chocolate syrup
2 cups water (half hot, half cold)
2 heaping tbsp corn starch
3 tbsp Coffee Mate creamer
Red and blue food colouring (to desired hue)
Makes a whopping 50 ounces of “blood”.
– from the book Technical Design Solutions For Theatre
If you need the blood to be thicker, mix peanut butter or Nutella with corn syrup until smooth, then add corn starch a bit at a time. And the food colouring.
Horror-meister Stephen King’s first novel, 1974’s Carrie, hinges on the humiliation of a teenager who exacts vengeance after a bucket of blood is poured over her head at the high school prom. It’s a gruesome tale of bullying and what can happen when a victim discovers that she has power.
This brings us to fake movie blood, since Carrie has been transferred to film twice (in 1976 and in 2013). Many years before, in the days of black and white movies, chocolate syrup worked just fine as blood — when it was allowed at all, that is. The old Hays Code, which strictly regulated what could appear on screen, banned blood except in special circumstances.
Fake blood was called Kensington Gore, named for a street in London, UK. But when colour movies arrived, new recipes were needed to make it look right. The ingredients above can dribble into eyes and mouth accidentally and not kill you.
But for Halloween, you might prefer some veggies with that blood? Try Dracula Dip. It’s sour cream with tomato soup mix. Much yummier. The specifics can be found in We Celebrate Halloween, a children’s book that includes a thorough bit of history, mixed with anecdote, costume ideas (how about a green garbage bag and a red hat? Poof, you’re a pimento-stuffed olive!), spooky games, scary stories, and more.
Perhaps Halloween came from the Celts? And costumes might have been adopted because of our efforts to fool the evil spirits hunting for humans to trick. (Nope, no humans here. Only us pimento-stuffed olives.)
Let’s continue in this vein with something… educational. Squirt! is a children’s book about blood.
There’s some Halloween-worthy creepiness, like the blurb about the evil Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who lived 500 years ago in Hungary. She “thought that bathing in the blood of young women would keep her young and beautiful.”
Then there were the ancient Aztecs. The universal life force was called tonalli. “The sun shone tonalli down to grow the corn, the people got tonalli [by eating corn], and they gave it back to the universe by pouring animal or human blood onto the ground.”
Squirt! is also full of science – of info about the liver, the heart, the circulatory system. And about other critters, too: Horseshoe crab blood is copper-based, and therefore blue-ish. Texas horned lizards will squirt poisonous blood out of their eyeballs if angered. Vampire bats need blood every two days, or else.
And speaking of vampires, consider this goofy good read: The Horror Writers Association Presents Blood Lite II: Overbite, An Anthology Of Humorous Horror Stories. The title says it all.
But it’s not just about blood. Because there is one thing that’s even spookier than fake blood: Clowns. CLOWNS.
You can zip through such trifles as “Daycare Of The Damned” (by Nina Kiriki Hoffman) and “Presumptuous Beast Throws Sumptuous Feast” (by Mike Baron), just two of the 31 shorts here – no tale is longer than 20 pages. BUT DO NOT READ Christopher Welch’s “Dead Clown Séance”. Just don’t.
It’s about how Beeps, Toodles and their pals call upon the spirit of Mr. Flonkers, who has gone on to that Big Top in the sky, to plead for help. You see, tragedy has enveloped the members of the Otis Oddbody Clown Alley.
This is all you need to know:
“Beeps had placed his bicycle horn on the table within easy reach.”
“Beep beep!” says Beeps.
Happy All Hallow’s Eve.
We Celebrate Halloween (by Bobbie Kalman et al, 1985) is filed in the PB shelves, but you’re more likely to find it in the special children’s Halloween book display over the next week or so. Squirt! (written by Trudee Romanek, illustrated by Rose Cowles, 2006) is also in the PB section, at C-20. Blood Lite II: Overbite is in Young Adult fiction (under A, for its editor, Kevin J. Anderson, 2010). And Carrie is available via inter-library loan.
And… apologies to clowns everywhere for the liberties taken in this column.
– Eleanor Brown, October 24, 2014