What Would it Take to Clean Up Our Favorite Horror Movie Scenes?

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Halloween is almost here! It’s time to embrace the chilly weather, lament our waning moments with daylight and, of course, cuddle up and watch our favorite horror films. Getting your thrills from spooktacular movies is always a treat, but have you ever wondered what it would take to clean up after some of the grisliest scenes in horror history? Here we look back at some classic horror films and their most gut-wrenching scenes to see what it would take in real life to clean, remediate, and disinfect them.

The crime scene cleanup crews at Aftermath Services love a good challenge, so we asked our field supervisors what these hypothetical cleanup processes would look like.

 

Psycho, 1960

When you think of classic horror, the first thing that comes to mind is Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. This standard-setting thriller’s twist ending (spoilers ahead, if you’re 60 years behind the times) reveals that the antagonist’s mother had been dead *gasp* THE WHOLE TIME!

 

mother from psycho sitting in chair with back turned

Still from the film Psycho, 1960

Trauma Type: Unattended death

Hazardous Factors: Airborne bacteria, flies and maggots, odor, decomposition fluids

Cleanup Process:

  • Don personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Remove all visibly affected materials that have death stains — mattress, wheelchair, carpeting, etc. As flies and maggots feed on the corpse, cross contamination becomes a threat. If the deceased carried bloodborne pathogens, flies can transfer it from the body to the walls, floors, ceiling, etc.
  • Thoroughly clean, disinfect & deodorize all surfaces using EPA-rated disinfectants.
  • Verify using adenosine triphosphate (ATP) testing to guarantee hospital-level standard of disinfection.
  • Properly package, transport and dispose of all medical waste in biohazard bags and containers.

 

A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984

“One, two, Freddy’s coming for you…”

In this classic 80’s slasher film, now-renowned actor Johnny Depp made his very first film appearance. Fans of the movie will also remember that it didn’t go very well for his character. As he lays in bed drifting to sleep, two arms suddenly pull him down into the bed and he quickly meets his demise. Seconds later, a massive geyser of blood shoots upward, flooding his bedroom ceiling as if gravity had been reversed.

bedroom with blood geyser shooting from bed to ceiling

Geyser from A Nightmare On Elm Street, 1984

Trauma Type: Blood cleanup

Hazardous Factors: Bloodborne pathogens, bodily fluids

Cleanup Process:

  • Don PPE
  • An absorbent agent (in this case, many absorbent agents) would be used on the fresh fluids to remove them without causing cross contamination.
  • Porous materials such as the mattress, blankets, carpeting and other blood-soaked objects must be disposed of entirely.
  • Once visible traces of blood and other fluids are removed, all hard surfaces are thoroughly scrubbed using powerful disinfectants. Bloodborne pathogens and other bodily fluids can carry Hepatitis B & C, HIV and MRSA.
  • ATP testing to ensure complete disinfection.
  • Properly package, transport and dispose of all medical waste in biohazard bags and containers.

 

The Exorcist, 1973

When it comes to phrases you never want to hear your kids say, “Captain Howdy says no.” tops the list. The Exorcist is about the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl and a priest’s mission to exorcise it. The demon, referred to as the innocent-sounding ‘Captain Howdy’, forces the girl to say and do grotesque things — one of which was vomiting uncontrollably (watch at your own risk!).

child from film the exorcist laying in bed covered in vomit

From The Exorcist, 1973

Trauma Type: Biohazard cleanup

Hazardous Factors: Bodily fluids

Cleanup Process:

  • Don PPE.
  • Soak the wet liquid with absorbent towels and discard them into biohazard bags.
  • Use a disinfectant with broad spectrum kill claim on the affected materials and scrub the area from the outside working inward. Repeat until residue is gone.
  • ATP test to ensure complete disinfection.
  • Properly package, transport and dispose of all medical waste in biohazard bags and containers.

Alien, 1979

“In space, no one can hear you scream.”

Although Aftermath has dispatch centers that allow us to service anywhere in the US, unfortunately, outer space isn’t yet in our network. But while reaching the Nostromo spaceship from the film Alien is in itself quite a feat for us, so too, would be disinfecting the ship of any biological remains. Fans of the series may recall that the Xenomorph’s blood contained extremely powerful acids that could burn through any material very quickly. However, one member of the dear-departed spaceship crew did leave behind biohazards after a baby Xenomorph famously burst out of his chest (in the kitchen, no less!).

green acid on floor burning a hole through it

Post-Xenomorph nosebleed

Trauma Type: Biohazard cleanup

Hazardous Factors: Bodily fluids, blood, mysterious acidic Xenomorph blood

Cleanup Process: 

  • Don PPE gear and space suit.
  • Dispose of all food exposed to bodily fluid.
  • NOTE: Blood is not the sole concern for this cleanup situation. Since the alien burst from a human chest cavity, spinal and cerebral fluids that are just as infectious as blood will also be present, although much harder to detect since they are clear.
  • Fluid spatter probably reached the ceiling and walls, tables, chairs and people. Dispose of any clothes that could have bodily fluids on them.
  • Use a disinfectant with broad spectrum kill claim on the affected materials and scrub the area from the outside working inward. Repeat until residue is gone.
  • ATP test to ensure complete disinfection.
  • Properly package, transport and dispose of all medical waste in biohazard bags and containers. 
  • As for the Xenomorph blood, we recommend jettisoning it into outer space and never speaking of it again…

For more detailed information on biohazard cleanup, blood cleanup and other information regarding the Aftermath scope of work, visit our many online resources. Have a happy Halloween!

 


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