Horror Movie Dictionary: Blood

I am in blood stepped in so far that should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o’er.” That’s from Macbeth.

Gory visuals of blood can cause a significant drop in both heart rate and blood pressure, reducing the amount of oxygenated blood flow to the brain. In a Ohio University study, more than 27% of respondents said they feared fainting before donating blood, compared with the figure of people who actually faint (4%). Blood injury and injection (BII) phobia is a really common psychiatric disorder

There’s a reason blood is so liberally deployed in horror films.

The real tragedy as far as the horror movie genre is concerned, is that scary films are seldom critically lauded except when there’s restraint when it comes to blood and gore.

Mass market sanguine-free supernatural releases are among the few times the tower gatekeepers descend from the parapets and deign it worthy to review a horror film. Occasionally, relatively bloodless slashers slip through the cracks (Halloween and Child’s Play were warmly received).

Blood doesn’t make a good movie bad, nor the reverse. And handled correctly it’s a showstopper. Handled incorrectly and it’s a CG mess, covering up sloppy film-making like a rust-bucket’s paint-job. Evil Dead, Blood Feast, and Dead Alive are a few of our favorite syrupy, bloody messes (for those interested in Blood Feast, listen to our podcast interview with maverick splatter-horror director, the late H.G. Lewis)

Oddly, many films with blood in their title aren’t all that particularly bloody (and there are a LOT of plasma-related movies: Bloody Wednesday, Blood Hook, Silent Night, Bloody Night, Blood Rage, etc, etc). But that’s probably just marketing.

Of note, two of most influential films in the entire horror canon have blood in their title, Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Blood Feast, and Mario Bava’s A Bay of Blood.

Horror Movie Dictionary: Arrow

ARROW: An arrow in horror films is both a career vector, a weapon, and a metaphor.

When it comes to actors, many became famous after slumming it in horror films, which at the time in terms of prestige, ranked marginally above daytime soaps and porn. Julia Louis-Dreyfus uttered a handful of words in Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters, then appeared in the Charles Band-produced fantasy/horror dud, Troll.

Johnny Deep was “introduced” in A Nightmare on Elm Street’s credits. (As Cinema Sins put it, “it’s hard to think back to a time when Johnny Depp needed introduction,” but it’s true). The slight and vertically-challenged Depp, miscast as a star quarterback, is soon imbibed by a bed as a victim of The Springwood Slasher, Freddy.

And speaking of beds, while Kevin Bacon was relaxing in his bunk, he got his jugular pierced with an arrow through bedding in Friday the 13th, a horror movie death that’s reprised in the terrible Friday the 13th 2009 reboot.

It’s also interesting that Suspiria (2018) director Luca Guadagnino ambiguously refers to his cinema as “an arrow that flies through time.”

[Editors’ note: And of course, there’s Arrow Films, the extraordinarily awesome British independent distributor of cult, horror and classic films on Blu-ray and DVD, including the super-cool Candyman]