A handprint in thick blood is visible on a wall, floor, or some other surface, indicating that the person who left it is seriously injured and possibly dying. The fresher the blood, the stronger the terror. A staple in Zombie Apocalypse films and horror in general.
The Bloody Handprint may be plastered onto the White Shirt of Death for even more visceral visuals. In some cases this is combined with Gory Discretion Shot; we, the audience, are told there is a corpse in the room, but all we are allowed to see is the blood. This can be worse than a clear sight of the victim, since imagination is left to supply the details. If the protagonists are following a trail of handprints they'll be gripped by apprehension too, thinking of what must be waiting for them at the end of it.
A direct extension is the use of the Bloody Handprint as a symbol, either in framing artwork such as book covers, or in-world. Used in-world it is a classic symbol of savage and violent people, turning up on flags, equipment and uniforms. Extra points if it's not paint.
This is quite logical and possible as Truth in Television, since a person's first reaction to pain in their body is to touch where it comes from. Naturally, a bleeding character's hand will get blood on it, and an alert person may apply pressure to the wound to stem the bleeding, getting covered in the stuff. Further attempts to move (to escape or seek help) with gore-coated hands will leave a trail behind, since no one that injured is going to waste time washing up. However, the preference for clearly delineated handprints, as opposed to more amorphous smudges, has more to do with communication with the viewer than the logistics of the situation.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. You're not supposed to go for your own throat, Keiichi... The manga has a handprint decorating the back cover of each volume.
In the final episode of Code Geass R2Lelouch leaves one of these - in his own blood - on Suzaku's Zero mask as they exchange their final words after Suzaku stabs him.
In Rave MasterMusica gets these in his (and Reina's) fight with Ogre after he stops Ogre's superheated goldclaiming pole wit his bare hands.
Great Teacher Onizuka: After a serious injury, Onizuka left a bloody hand print on Uchiyamada's bald head. Uchiyamada found it really hard to remove, and almost thought that Onizuka cursed him.
In Baccano!, Claire Stanfield leaves bloody hand-prints on the outside of the train window. He belongs to the latter example.
Lucy in Elfen Lied uses her vectors to the same effect, and wakes up one morning with the walls of her room absolutely covered in these.
In The Blair Witch Project the main characters find the supposedly demolished house of Rustin Parr, the walls of which are covered in children's handprints, presumably composed of dried blood.
The Mist: After the insane crowd led by the religiously insane villainess stab an unfortunate marine and throw him out the store where the monsters lurk. The last shot before he is violently dragged away into the mist is him putting his blood-covered hand on the window before whispering "please", leaving the bloody print after he's killed.
The DVD cover for Creep has a bloody handprint on a subway train window.
The Grand Duel: In one scene, a dying victim of one of the villains leaves his bloody handprint on his immaculate white suit.
The Lord of the Rings: Saruman's mark on his Uruk-hai warriors was a very mild version of this. (He used white paint.)
In Gothika, Douglas Grey leaves several bloody handprints all over the house as he attempts to escape his wife, the posessed, temporarily Ax-Crazy Miranda Grey. It makes it very easy to show where he's been.
Marc Haddon's A Spot of Bother: While cutting a skin lesion off his lip, George Hall suffers serious blood loss and leaves them all over his house.
In Death on the Nile, this is one of a few Red Herrings made to accuse the dead girl's husband's ex.
Carrie: Carrie leaves one of these on Mrs. Desjardin's shorts while panicking over her first period — she is under the impression that she is bleeding to death.
In a Night Huntress book, Cat enters the house to find a man dead in the kitchen and a trail of bloody handprints leading up the stairs. The wife had dragged herself up to the (adult) daughter's bedroom and died in there.
A bloody thumbprint shows up in the Sherlock Holmes story The Adventure of the Norwood Builder. Lestrade thinks that it's conclusive evidence in regards to a murder that had happened two days previously. Holmes agrees, but for a different reason: The thumbprint hadn't been there the night before.
Live Action TV
In one episode of Firefly, "Out of Gas" an injured Mal is stumbling through the ship with a gaping gunshot wound in his gut, leaving large bloody handprints on everything, especially most of the medbay. And the engine. And most of the walls. And, when he's reduced to crawling, a good portion of the floor, as well.
The "Yakuza vs. Mafia" episode used one as a logo to represent the Mafia.
In the dramatized battle at the end of the "KGB vs. CIA" episode, a shot and wounded KGB agent leaves one on a door, followed by a trail of blood, allowing a CIA agent to track him down and eventually kill him.
In one episode of MacGyver, Mac comes across a deserted ship that's been run ashore and ransacked on the inside. Within he finds a Bloody Handprint several times the size of his own, which obviously could not belong to a human.
In the 2 Broke Girls episode "And the Egg Special" these can be seen all over the walls◊ of the Soup Kitchen after a drug deal went wrong and turned into a shooting spree.
One production of Romeo and Juliet had Mercutio leave a bloody handprint as he was being carried off after getting sliced open by Tybalt.
A handprint is on the cover of Blood, an FPS featuring a truly bloodthirsty gunslinger.
A similar handprint is seen (and sometimes usable as a switch) in Duke Nukem 3D. Since they share an engine and since 3D Realms was developing Blood itself before selling the rights to Monolith, it could be a Shout-Out.
Iji: As part of Escape from the Crazy Place; the heroine, wakes up in room overrun with violent aliens. In the background are bloody handprints, and the word 'Help' written in blood.
In Star Wars: Republic Commando, Sev has one of these on his helmet. Instead of showing that he's either been wounded it's a paint job to intimidate others.
Penumbra: Black Plague has a very creepy room with a pattern of bloody hand prints all around the walls at about knee height. Like someone wasn't able to stand, but went around testing the wall for ways out. (This is near a kennel where there's a ton of bloody dog footprints all over.)
Fatal Frame has a handful, though there's a particularly scary one in the third game that has to do more with where you find it.
Red Faction: Guerrilla: The Marauders, a savage tribe of Martian scavengers use the Bloody Handprint as their symbol. It appears on flags and vehicles. It is emblematic of their feral and violent nature.
Hellboy Animated: In Blood and Iron the team investigates an old mansion. The ghosts there normally go unseen, when Abe checks on a computer, they amass at the window, still unseen. When Abe turns back they're gone, but he does see the windows coated with Bloody Handprints.
The coat-of-arms of Catalonia is four red pallets on a gold background. A legend says that it was created when the badly wounded Count Wilfred the Hairy of Barcelona passed his bloody fingers across the golden shield awarded to him by the Emperor of the Franks.
The flag of Ulster is a bloody hand superimposed on the St George Cross (red on a white background). According to legend this is because in a dispute over who should rule it was to be decided by who could place their hand on the territory first. One set off running, the other cut his own hand off and told a runner to take it, thus winning the race. This may explain a lot about the Province's bloody history.