Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel was still doing some very interesting things with its properties. The X-Men, Spider-Man, and Ghost Rider have all become Hollywood classics in one way or another. However, another film brought a lot of fame to Marvel before its franchise’s success: Blade, starring Wesely Snipes.
Hailed as one of the greatest superhero-horror films, Blade was a product of its time, leaning into the edgy aesthetics of the 90s, drenching as many scenes as possible in blood and gore. Of course, the film and its subsequent sequels were rated R from the get-go, but even Blade himself was a little disturbed by one of the scenes of the vampire film.
The opening scene for Blade was quite the task
Sitting down with Entertainment Weekly., the team behind the film ( Wesley Snipes included) discussed how production handled the various challenges that presented themselves while shooting. The crew discussed the opening scene, the so-called ‘Blood Rave’, and how the fallout from that is still affecting people today.
Greg J. Grande, the production designer on the film, talked about how time-consuming the scene had eventually become. He said:
“We searched for a location forever, and we ended up finding a run-down meatpacking factory — where they’d come in and slaughter these animals, literally. There was a lot of white tile and we sort of aged it a bit, gave it some cool lighting. Then we basically rigged the entire set like you would a modern-day sprinkler system.”
Grande here refers to the blood pouring from the sprinklers, which was a part of the scene. The production team had found a working sprinkler system and instead of water, rigged it to spray a red corn syrup-based liquid to mimic the consistency of blood.
Theo Van De Sande, the cinematographer for the film, reflected challenging the scene was to produce, as not only the people on camera but also those behind it found it difficult to work in the syrup:
“That scene has become such a cult thing. We shot for three days, and it was pretty gross. We had these yellow, very cheap rain jackets — you shot two minutes of it and your sleeve came off.”
The consistency of the corn syrup made it difficult for the actors to continue shooting throughout the day. For continuity reasons, one would assume they were not allowed to clean and reapply the syrup between takes. This would pose a huge challenge for the extras, given that downtime on the set would probably have to be spent in red corn syrup.
The Blood Rave scene had a lot of consequences
While it was nowhere close to real blood that was being used for the scene, it does not mean the stuff did not freak people out. The extras were only told that there would be something spilled on them. They had no idea what it would be, and they were not expecting blood. Snipes said:
“Some of them are still traumatized from that experience. The very first take, they knew that something was going to spill on them, but they didn’t know it was gonna be like that. And some of the people freaked out! It wasn’t real blood, it wasn’t Carrie, right? But they freaked out and left, they quit. Like, “No more.””
The scene ended up causing trouble for the New Line Features (the producers) even after production ended. Van De Sande recalls a specific incident that got the film studio a heap of trouble when an extra allegedly had an unintended reaction to the corn syrup. He said:
“Just before the film came out, one of the extras sued New Line because he got a skin disease, he said. Of course it’s not true because otherwise I would be dead by now. “
According to Empire, a string of extras did sue the executive of New Line Features, suing for a loss of pay, as they claimed that the reaction their skin had to the fake blood, kept them from working due to blemishes on their body.