The results suggest that using the term 'bloodcurdling' to describe feeling extreme fear is justified, researchers said.
    
The term dates back to medieval times and is based on the concept that fear or horror would 'run the blood cold' or 'curdle' (congeal) blood, but the validity of this theory has never been studied.
    
The study involved 24 healthy volunteers aged 30 years or younger recruited among students, alumni, and employees of the Leiden University Medical Centre in The Netherlands.

The movies were viewed more than a week apart at the same time of day and in a comfortable and relaxed environment. Both lasted approximately 90 minutes.

Before and after each movie (within 15 minutes), blood samples were taken and analysed for markers or 'fear factors' of clotting activity. 

The horror movie was perceived to be more frightening than the educational movie, with a 5.4 mean difference in fear rating scores.
    
The study was published in The BMJ.

 

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