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The tricks that make slasher films look real

How do slasher villains slash slashlessly?

Horror films — and specifically slashers — are known for abundant on-screen violence. Making that fake violence look real often comes down to props. Prop masters and special effects workers prepare knives, blood, and explosions to slash people ... without actually slashing them.

To pull this off they might use rubber, plastic, retractable, or even digital knives. Blood recipes have been improving over the decades to flow more realistically, and better soak into clothing. And explosions, both with air and squibs, push out blood to make scenes feel more realistic.

With movies, it’s often what you don’t see that makes the difference. After prop masters, makeup artists, and special effects artists complete their work, they pass the baton off to other members of the crew. Actors sell it, camera operators get the right angles to highlight the action while hiding the tubes and wires, and editors cut the different takes together. When pulled off well, it’ll make you feel like what you’re witnessing is real — even though it’s just movie magic.

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