Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The most frightening industrial film ever

A bit of set up first. When I was a kid, I was easily frightened by things I saw on television and in films. Like monsters on Space 1999 and Star Trek and PSAs, particularly anti-smoking ads. I'd come home from school for lunch, watch the Flintstones, and usually toward the end, they'd often run an anti-smoking ad. Three in particular scared the bejezus out of me - a couple dancing and smoking, becoming engulfed in a cloud of cigarette fumes as they coughed up a couple of lungs; a cartoon where a guy races upstairs to light a woman's cigarette and discovers she's some hideous hag from smoking; and a really eerie one, made more unsettling by the fact I saw it on black and white sets, where someone in a room full of smokers whips out a skunk and puts on a gas mask. I still get shivers when I think of that pernicious piece of work.

I've searched out YouTube, hoping to find those buggers and face my fears, all to no avail. But one day, when I was searching for Sesame Street clips - the Yellow Yahoo and the Ten Little Greeblies, if you must know - I recalled a bicycle safety film I saw in elementary school that so traumatized me, I went home at lunch and stayed home. And what do you know? this - is the film. I don't want to spoil it for you, but check out the masks - the hideous, expressionless, nearly eyeless masks and tell me this doesn't creep you right to your very core. Who in their right mind would think that those masks and the events that transpire over the course of the film wouldn't fracture the mind of a small, impressionable kid?

Of course today, I can watch practically anything without flinching, so the only thing that bothers me about this film now is the fact that - given the subject matter of bicycle safety - none of the riders are wearing helmets or other safety gear. Some safety lesson.

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