August 12, 2014

The Top Ten Most Horrific Public Information Films

Remember the scary Public Information Films from the 1970s?

No? Well, you're probably not British, and this post will mean nothing to you.

Those of us who saw these short warning movies (and who survived into adulthood) never broke through fences to run across railway tracks, didn't talk to strangers, never tried to rescue our frisbees which were stuck to the transformers in electrical substations, didn't play hide and seek in discarded fridges, and had absolutely no intention of ever swimming in stagnant pools of water.

Here's a quick top ten list of these PIFs. There are many others from different eras and countries, but the ones from the UK in the 1970s are still the best.

1. Dark and Lonely Water (1973)

With a voiceover by Donald Pleasence no less! How could you not heed this Grim Reaper's warning?

I wonder if Arnold Schwarzenneger likes the final line?

2. Apaches (1977)

Ever wanted to see a little kid drown in a pool of cowshit? You can now.

Five children in John Mackenzie's short end up dying horribly in various accidents, so there's something here for everyone. Personally, I feel sorry for the farmer.

This "feature" (which was intended to warn kids not play silly buggers around farms) was broken up into smaller segments and was shown on television until the early '80s. After that, British farms ceased to be exist due to shouty kids trespassing and dying all over them.

3. The Finishing Line (1977)

A precursor to "Battle Royale", perhaps? This gory PIF was soon banned in case it encouraged copycat crimes. It might have had something to do with all the blood and dead bodies too.

A more traditionally tragic British Rail PIF entitled "Robbie" (presented by Peter Purvis from "Blue Peter") took its place.

4. Searching (1974)

From John Krish (the director of "The Finishing Line") comes a heartwarming tale about the dangers of playing with matches.

Actually, it's really only the spooky aftermath of a tragic house fire, but the clues are in the echoes about what caused it.

5. Play Safe (1978)

Another PIF which was broken into smaller segments to scare schoolchildren during educational morning television programmes for "Schools and Colleges" on ITV.

Give or take some friendly cartoon birds voiced by Brian Wilde (Foggy in "Last of the Summer Wine") as an owl and Bernard Cribbins (narrator of "The Wombles") as a robin, this PIF tells you everything you need to know about the dangers of electricity. It's particularly relevant if you're a posh twat who has your own yacht.

Leave those frisbees alone too! All together now, "JIMMMMMEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!"

Amusingly, another electrical substation became the setting for a bunch of young London casuals to break the rules in the 1989 PIF entitled "Football".

6. Last Christmas (1979)

This makes "Home Alone" look like a comedy. Oh wait...

7. Bandage (1976)

Never underestimate the danger of sparklers! No, really.

Forget cherry bombs, sparklers are known to be the cause of the most heinous firework related injuries ever.

8. Front Seat Child (1976)

One for the adults. Never let your creepy daughter sit in the front passenger seat unless you want to spend the rest of your life dressed in a dirty mac haunting children's playgrounds.

9. Protect & Survive: Casualties (1979)

Rated highly in Channel 4's viewers poll of the "100 Greatest Scary Moments", Patrick Allen narrated survival instructions which hit home, especially for the paranoid generation who lived in fear from the possible threat of nuclear war.

Thatcher's Britain has a lot to answer for.

10. Charley Says (1973-79)

You'd think that having zany DJ Kenny Everett voicing the cat would make these creepy cartoons fun, wouldn't you? You'd be so very wrong. Some small children were terrified of these, but they eventually got the message.

Bonus: The Top 50 Scariest Public Information Films

Don't have nightmares!

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