"Saw" fans urged to give blood to get a lot in return

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - If the saying “give, and you shall receive” holds true, then fans of the “Saw” horror movies joining a nationwide blood drive should get plenty of the red stuff in return from a new film sequel.

Sarah Greenberg (L) and Tim Palen co-Presidents of Film Marketing for Lionsgate pose at a screening for the cast and crew of the film 'Saw IV" released by Lionsgate in Hollywood California, October 23, 2007. Greenberg and Palen launched a blood drive to promote the film titled 'Give 'Til it Hurts' which hopes to collect 60,000 pints of blood. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

“Saw IV,” the latest installment in one of Hollywood’s most successful horror franchises, opens in theaters on Friday ahead of fright-filled Halloween night in the United States, and as it has in past years, the Lionsgate film studio has launched a blood drive to promote the film and boost blood donations.

Last year, the “Give ‘Til it Hurts” campaign collected nearly 23,500 pints of blood through local efforts, and this year, the American Red Cross and Web portal Yahoo! joined the effort to take it nationwide. This year’s goal: 60,000 pints.

Red Cross spokeswoman Stephanie Millian said the “Saw” tie-in helps bolster the group’s efforts to raise awareness about donating blood among the film’s core fans of older teenagers and young adults.

“It can be a coming-of-age experience for them, and that can become a part of their lives from then on,” Millian said.

The “Saw” movies are among the bloodiest on silver screens. The key character is Jigsaw, a terminally ill cancer patient with a strong moral compass who abducts people of questionable values. He then keeps them confined in such a way that if they try to escape, they are injured or maimed.

The movies’ twisting plots and torture traps have made them major hits among horror fans. The three “Saw” films have raked in $415 million at global box offices since 2004’s original.

Tim Palen and Sarah Greenberg, co-presidents of marketing for Lionsgate films, said the initial drive was a publicity stunt, and while the campaign still serves to promote the film, it also has been transformed into a serious effort.

The first drive raised 4,200 pints and in three years a total of 38,000 pints have been collected. “(Fans) now think it’s part of a ritual,” Palen said.

Millian said every two seconds in the United States, someone needs blood. That means that during the 95-minute running time of “Saw IV,” roughly 2,850 people will need blood, and at least some of them will have movie’s fans to thank.