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The Actors Of ‘Blood In Blood Out’ Lived With Real Gang Members For Months To Prep For The Film And Other Facts

Believe it or not, it’s been 26 years since Blood In Blood Out was released. Does that mean we’re over it? Nope. So we’ve put together a list of 25 facts about the movie for all of you stans out there.

1. Even though the prison gangs in the film are fictional, they were based on real gangs.

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The Aryan Vanguard represents the Aryan Brotherhood, while the Black Guerrilla Army is a stand-in for the Black Guerrilla Family, and La Onda is based on the Mexican Mafia. 

2. Technically speaking, it’s actually a Disney film.

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It was published under Hollywood Pictures – but Hollywood Pictures is a subsidiary of Disney!

3. Blood In Blood Out is also the name of a gang initiation ritual.

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“Blood in blood out” is another way of describing what’s essentially the membership process for a gang. The first step for an aspiring gang member to gain admission is that they have to kill someone before they are accepted. The second part to gang membership, once someone’s been accepted, is that the only way to leave for good is through dying. “Blood in blood out” is basically like the world’s most hardcore set of wedding vows.

4. Blood In Blood Out is also known as Bound By Honor.

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The film was renamed after the studio became skittish over the meaning of the original title.

5. Two soundtracks were produced for the film.

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One soundtrack was released by Hollywood Pictures for purchase and used in the film after its re-titling. But, the second soundtrack, which was originally commissioned for the film, was dropped after the film was renamed. Apparently, the dropped soundtrack, composed by Bill Conti, is rumored to still exist, somewhere … but it was never officially released.

6. The movie was filmed in 1991.

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And the filmmakers chose to film in the Spanish-speaking areas of Los Angeles, and inside California’s San Quentin State Prison. Clearly, they had a commitment to authenticity.

7. There was a lot of contention over whether the film would even be released.

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This was because the LA riots happened while the film was in post-production, and Disney was concerned that it was about to release a movie that encouraged gang warfare. The director, Taylor Hackford, got pretty upset over this because this was completely opposite to the actual ethos of the film.

8. The film made … a loss.

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The budget for the film was $35 million. But, once released, its gross revenue was only $4.5 million. Ouch.

9. It’s a pretty long movie.

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Its running time is 180 minutes. To put it in context, Avengers: Endgame runs for 182 minutes. The director’s cut goes for even longer, at an impressive 190 minutes.

10. One of the actors, Theodore Wilson, died shortly after finishing filming his scenes for Blood In Blood Out.

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Wilson died in July 1991, which meant that he didn’t get to see Blood In Blood Out in its final, post-production glory. He played Wallace in the movie.

11. Adan Hernandez, a Latino artist, was brought onboard to create the paintings the character of Cruz Candelaria was supposed to have painted.

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In fact, all of the paintings used in Blood In Blood Out were created by Hernandez. Unfortunately, the mural shown during the film’s climax, in the reservoir, has since been painted over. Hernandez himself actually made a cameo in the film, playing a drug dealer, Gilbert, in the art gallery scene.

12. Several of the then-inmates of San Quentin State Prison appear as extras in the film.

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The prison’s staff were also recruited as extras and advisors during production, too. Some staff members were even given small lines in the film.

13. One of the film’s actors had actually served time in San Quentin before his career as an actor.

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Danny Trejo, the actor who played Geronimo in Blood In Blood Out, spent time in the jail during the 1960s. On a related note, you might also know Trejo from his roles in the Spy Kids movies, and Breaking Bad.  

14. The screenwriter for Blood In Blood Out also makes a cameo as a prison inmate in the film.

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Jimmy Santiago Baca actually plays two roles in the film. Aside from appearing a prison inmate, he is also a member of the La Onda council. Clearly, he’s a jack-of-all-trades, since Jimmy Santiago Baca is also a poet.

15. Rotten Tomatoes’ critics gave the film a score of 55 percent.

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And the audience score says that 94 percent of people liked it. That is 94 percent of the 49,125 people who watched it. Sorry to those 11 reviewers who weren’t really fussed on the film, but in this case, the majority rules.

16. The director wanted to ensure that the film authentically reflected the “Raza” culture. 

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“When you are not of that, you trust the people around you,” Jimmy Hackford said in a recent interview.

17. You’ve definitely seen one of the stars, Benjamin Bratt, in other films.

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Bratt played Paco Aguilar in Blood In Blood Out. He’s scored both silver screen and movie roles since then, playing characters in Law and OrderTraffic,and even Sandra Bullock’s love interest in Miss Congeniality.

18. Blood In Blood Out was the first drama released by Hollywood Pictures that was about East Los Angeles Latinos.

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Let’s face it, even though it was released 26 years ago, it’s not like as if the market’s been saturated with Latino stories since. Maybe it’s time for a sequel or a remake?

19. The film had a very limited release.

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It was released only for a week in Rochester, New York, Tucson, and Las Vegas. This was mainly because the studio was nervous about stirring up controversy with the film’s subject matter and inciting violence at the theatres.

20. Blood In Blood Out also had a very short promotional campaign.

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They started on the 10th January 1993 – and the movie opened ten days later, on the 20th. When it did open, it only played at two to three theatres in each of the cities that it was released in. Again, Hollywood Pictures was clearly very nervous about the film’s release.

21. While the film isn’t a “true story”, it is based on real-life experiences.

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The screenwriter, Jimmy Santiago Baca, based it off of his own background.

22. A whole subplot involving Paco’s girlfriend/wife was cut from the final version of the film.

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This was probably just as well, considering that there was originally over 300 minutes worth of footage that was available for Blood In Blood Out before bits and pieces were culled for the final version of the film.

23. The main actors lived with real gang members to inform their acting for the film.

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Before filming started, Damian Chapa, Benjamin Bratt, and Jesse Borrego developed and perfected their characters over the three months that they stayed with gang members. 

24. Damien Chapa really connected with his character, Miklo.

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Chapa said this was because both he and Miklo were of Caucasian and Latino descent, and Miklo’s relationships and experiences seemed to parallel a lot of Chapa’s own relationships and experiences.

25. Paulo Tocha, the actor who plays Apache, was once in a gang himself.

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This turned around for him, however, when he decided to become a professional Muay Thai fighter.

So what surprised you about these facts? Tell us about it on our Facebook page – you can find it by clicking on the logo at the top of the page.

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