#2. The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water
"I am the spirit of dark and lonely water" is how this PSA starts out. That's called efficiency, ladies and gentlemen. First line, lead character, and only speaking parts? Grim reaper, grim reaper, and grim reaper.
He's like the Kevin Smith of PSAs.
And it is an unbelievably creepy interpretation of the spirit of death, too. His cold, distant, emotionless voice, the tiny hints of glee at the impending deaths of children -- you could easily revamp this into a serious horror film and be praised for your inherent understanding of human mortality. And though it's pretty short, running just shy of 1:30, The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water manages its time like a Swiss watch (that, uh ... that kills children?). Two kids die and a third nearly drowns, all in just under 90 seconds:
It's like we always say: If you're going to kill children, at least be efficient.
Here, for instance: "The boy is showing off," the Spirit says, and that's all the justification it needs to eat his living soul. The living avatar of drowning children then chuckles a little and whispers: "The showoffs are easy."
See, statements like that imply that the so-called "Spirit of Water" isn't punishing kids who transgress somehow, but that it wants to kill all children all the time, not just the misbehaving ones. That takes the message away from "Be careful around water" to something more like "Lakes are genuinely possessed by ghosts that will try to murder you, no matter what." We're not sure what the hydrophobia rate was in England pre-Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water, but we're going to guess that it doubled the day after release.
#1. The Finishing Line
The Finishing Line was made as a handy field manual for children to organize their own impromptu Battle Royales using nothing but a crate of short-shorts and an abandoned rail yard. Or else it's an instructional PSA about train safety. It's really not all that clear, to be honest.
See, you don't know -- this could be educational.
The Finish Line takes place entirely within the perverse fantasy of a murderous schoolboy who, apropos of virtually nothing, fantasizes for 20 straight minutes about running death games for his classmates.
The majority of the video traces what specific events his theoretical Slaughterlympics would consist of, and nobody is safe from his wrath: The first event is for kids 9 and under only. It's called Fence Breaking, and the point of the game is to --
Oh, blue team's down already? Geez, we're barely past the premise stage and there are already dead 8-year-olds in this film. And no, don't be fooled by the image: She didn't just fall and get knocked unconscious -- that's not nearly horrific enough. All of those little kids working together were all inexplicably too weak to lift her body, so they had to leave their friend behind while a train came by and nearly cut her in half. But don't worry! It's not like they're going to show you the limp, bloody corpse of a second grad-
Yep. The movie is not only going to "go there," it's going to level the ground and lay a foundation "there," so that its children might live "there" for generations to come.
Here's the next event, Stone Throwing, where the children get two points for a smashed window, four points for a smashed head:
"Quit screaming, I'm trying to sleep."
Here's Last Across, which doesn't seem to have any rules or point, really; it's just a mass sacrifice to the hungry Train Lord.
See ... if anything, the rise of violent video games has saved lives.
And finally there's the Great Tunnel Walk: 100 kids march dismally into a darkened train tunnel, and the first one to the other side wins. Jesus, the ambiguity there -- as those kids march reluctantly into the impenetrable blackness of the tunnel -- after the vivid violence that came before ... it's actually worse to be left wondering. Will a train come while they're in there? If it does, will any of them make it out alive?
The Brits aren't crazy about ambiguity.
Or children, to be honest.
It says something strange and unsettling that three of the five most fucked up children's movies we could find throughout history were educational videos from Great Britain in the 1970s. Most societies, when given this same prompt, would cut a 30-second PSA with John Stamos telling you that playing with trains is uncool (it messes up your hair, dude). Great Britain pulled "train safety" out of the Lessons for Children hat and proceeded to allot $60,000 for the Blood Budget on their 20-minute pilot for a train-based Hunger Games series.
For more reasons our kids are growing up so screwy, check out 7 Things 'Good Parents' Do (That Screw Up Kids For Life) and The 6 Most Unintentionally Hilarious Old School PSAs.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The Most Baffling PSA Ever: Vote Like ... Spider-Man?