'The Belko Experiment's' John Gallegher Jr., Adria Arjona, Sean Gunn, Michael Rooker, Director Talk Bloody Set

Belko Experiment John Gallagher Jr Michael Rooker

There’s no shortage of blood splatter in the horror thriller THE BELKO EXPERIMENT, and on set the actors were often drenched in the sticky, fake movie blood. The movie’s John Gallegher Jr., Adria Arjona, Sean Gunn and even the director Greg McLean describe the bloody mess and why they freaked out the people of the Colombian town where the film was shot. Michael Rooker, however, tells us how he worked with writer/producer James Gunn (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY) to tailor his bloodless demise.

Exploding heads abound in THE BELKO EXPERIMENT, the horror film written and produced by GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 director James Gunn. In a twisted social experiment, 80 Americans are locked in their high-rise office in Bogatá, Colombia, and ordered by an unknown person through the intercom to kill or be killed in a deadly game of survival.

During a sit down with Gunn, the writer/director revealed the idea for this story came to him in a dream, but the writing process was a nightmare. “I had a terrible time writing it,” says Gunn as he wrote the death scenes for many of his characters.

Belko Experiment Jame Gunn Greg McLean

Gunn handed off the directing reigns to WOLF CREEK director Greg McLean since Gunn was in the middle of pre-production on GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2. McLean’s approach to the violence was artistic and entertaining. For that he looked to Martin Scorsese’s GOODFELLAS (1990) for camera movements, but he looked to EVIL DEAD to bring some comedy to the violence.

“There’s ways you can do violence where it’s actually quite funny. And I feel the film is very funny. There’s a cartoon element to it that I really enjoy as well."

The humor that could be derived from violence wasn’t apparent until after McLean and the special effects crew were figuring out the mechanics of the blood splatter.

“What does a head look like when it explodes?” McLean asked of his special effects crew. “We had the prosthetics guys do tests and it quickly became apparent that it’s quite funny. I mean…it’s terrible but funny. For me, there’s a level where violence becomes so intense that it becomes hilarious.”

On set, the actors were often drenched in fake movie blood, but there was so much of it, even the director didn’t realize he was a victim of the special effects. When leaving the set, he would get weird looks from the towns people in Colombia, only to realize he looked like a bleeding victim himself.

Belko Experiment Adria Arjona

Often times, the cast would also freak out the locals when they too would leave in costume back to their hotel. Adria Arjona would also forget her victim status and go to the local coffee shop before heading back to the hotel.  The weird looks she got were priceless and she often had to explain why she was soiled and bloody-looking.

“You forget about it because you’re covered in blood for so many hours and you’re seeing other people covered in blood that it becomes kind of normal.”

The Latina actress adds the hotel personnel got the hang of it and they would gauge how it went on set with the amount of goo on her hair and outfit. She admits she would only bother with a five minute shower to wash out the day’s work since she knew she would be right back at it the next day.

John Gallagher Jr. (NEWSROOM, CLOVERFIELD), Arjona’s co-star and love interest in THE BELKO EXPERIMENT, had similar fun playing on set with the props.

“It really does become kind of fun. You kind of can’t believe it. You go home to the hotel covered in fake blood and your head sticks to the pillow, trying to go to sleep from it, but you think what a crazy thing you’re doing.”

Gallagher was more concerned with the physical stunts and exploding molotov cocktails. He reveals he left Adja behind when he felt the heat of the cocktail once it hit the wall. Of course, he got an earful from Arjona.

Actor Sean Gunn got the brunt of the blood splatter. It wasn’t as pleasant for him. Since they didn’t shoot in order, the difficult part was keeping track of how much blood to apply to his clothes and face.

“There were times my clothing was so drenched with blood. You can’t walk or go anywhere. It’s like being dipped in blood. It was tricky.”

In one particularly bloody scene where his character watches heads exploding, he marveled at the way the special effects crew pulled off that shot.

However, there was so much movie blood that it filled the room up to his ankles. The production even set up a makeshift shower for Gunn in the maintenance or closet room after that sticky scene.   


Michael Rooker didn’t have to deal with the same issues as the other actors. Rooker had a hand in developing not only his character, but his death scene.

Belko Experiment Michael Rooker

Rooker plays against type as a endearing character versus his usual tough guy persona. Having worked with Gunn four times prior, Rooker approached Gunn about tailoring his death scene to be unique. He thought there was enough blood in the movie that he wanted his scene to stand out from the rest. And who can blame him after he experienced enough blood matter on the set of THE WALKING DEAD.

“I loved that there was no blood. ‘There’s so much blood,’ he told James Gunn. "It was nice, clean, simple - like going to sleep.”

Rooker went as far as working with the CGI team to create the injury that would lead to his death. He tweaked it over and over until it was just right and the result was satisfying. Gunn sent him that scene and it was a pleasant gift.”

“I was really pleased.  That was true love.” 

Experience the bloodletting when THE BELKO EXPERIMENT opens in movie theaters March 17.

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