Geysers of blood soared toward the sky as the machetes fell upon their victims, showering all who saw them.
Kevin Greutert sat down so he wouldn’t faint. He was attending a funeral ceremony in Sulawesi, an Indonesian island east of Borneo, and ten buffalo had been sacrificed with the sharp blades, “‘Apocalypse Now’-style,” as their legs were bound to each other by rope. Greutert has always been sensitive to blood and would pass out as a child when he saw it, but it wasn’t merely the gore that disturbed him.
“It was the shining, ecstatic faces of the local Torajan people smiling as they watched the animals dispatched,” Greutert recalled to Salon in writing. “I had gotten to know the family that invited me, and some came over to me as I sat on the ground, no doubt pale as a sheet. They asked what was wrong, and I could only vaguely gesture to the fountains of blood spraying ten feet away.”
He added, “They smiled brilliantly and exclaimed, ‘But it’s beautiful!'”
Greutert knows a thing about blood and gore being beautiful: He directs horror movies. His most famous films include “Jessabelle,” “Visions,” “Saw VI” and “Saw VII,” the latter two of which belong to a franchise that is frequently derided with the epithet “torture porn.” Greutert is a specialist in using make-up and other visual effects to create the illusion of graphic horror, even though he still gets queasy around real blood. He recalled that while shooting “Saw VI,” he and his special effects crews would often spend hours in a day setting up a single gory scene. Rubber limbs, blood-filled squibs and blood tubes are attached to actors who rehearse reactions of agony and terror; gallons of (fake) blood are pumped through hoses so they can be sprayed at precisely the right moment.
“Whenever you have to do a gore shot more than once, this usually involves cleaning up the set, replacing the actor’s bloody wardrobe and washing their hair and body off, re-rigging the special effects, and cleaning blood off the camera lens,” Greutert explained. “Sometimes the schedule doesn’t allow for any of this. The pressure to get it right is tremendous.”
It may seem strange that this much craft and artistry is invested in splatter horror. If so many of us are …….