The Jigsaw Halloween Blood Drives Have Saved Over 360,000 Lives
By | October 22, 2019
The first blood drive was meant to drum up press
Saw, the film series in which piles of unlucky people are killed in ironic and gruesome ways isn't exactly what you'd call "elevated horror." After raking in somewhere around $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales, however, it's hard to argue against the effectiveness of the franchise, even if your tastes run somewhere closer to a moody thriller than "torture porn." Even if you're not into the brand of horror that Jigsaw and his crew of helpers are selling, you have to give them credit for saving more lives than they've taken. Alongside the theatrical release of each film in the series, the Jigsaw Halloween Blood Drive offered every John Kramer fan a free ticket in exchange for a pint of blood.
This "blood for a free viewing" promotion is right up there with William Castle's most eccentric tactics to get people in the theater but with a philanthropic spin. Not only have the filmmakers saved thousands of lives with their buzz-generating blood drives, but they've also helped change the way the American Red Cross takes donations and how people see the horror genre on a whole.
Before Saw became a worldwide success and gave director James Wan a career, it was just a weird little movie made by a couple of Australian guys who happened to find enough money in their budget to book Cary Elwes. To generate press for their blood-soaked release, Lionsgate Entertainment announced the creation of the Jigsaw Halloween Blood Drive. People who didn’t want to plonk down their hard-earned cash to see a risky new horror movie by an untested director could give some blood to earn a free seat in the theater. As goofy as the idea sounds, they ended up bringing in a healthy number of donations for the American Red Cross. Never underestimate broke horror fans. By the 2009 release of Saw VI, the Saw team had taken 120,000 pints of blood from fans of this brutal franchise. As strange as it may be, this is the one horror film franchise that's actually managed to do some good while grossing out fans.
The Jigsaw Halloween Blood Drive was an early proponent for LGBTQ rights in blood donation
The rules for LGBTQ blood donors are different from the rules for other members of the population. Specifically, because of the higher perceived risk of HIV infection among homosexual men, no man who has had sex with another man in the previous 12 months can donate blood, even if they're in a decades-long monogamous relationship.
With the release of Jigsaw in 2017, Lionsgate and the Saw franchise took a stand against regulations that don't allow members of the LGBTQ community to donate. Along with their usual posters imploring fans to give blood, they encouraged fans of all genders and sexualities with their "All Types Welcome" campaign. Aside from simply featuring members of the LGTBQ community in their ads, the campaign made large strides in making the FDA aware of the potentially discriminatory ramifications of such practices.