It turns out that after next year, the subspecies of Homo sapiens known as ‘children’ will soon be nothing more than a bygone memory, thanks in part to the latest round of recession-busting job cuts and the fact that governmental departments are evidently to David Cameron, what blood banks are to vampires.
This time, the axe has fallen upon the shadowy organisation known as the Central Office of Information, and if you don’t know who they are, it’s definitely say to safe that you owe your life to them in one way or another. They’re the branch of government responsible for making all of those public information films which warn you not to do ridiculously insane stuff like fly a kite near electric pylons, retrieve frisbees from inside electrical substations, or cross the road.
It’s a job they’ve been doing very well since goddamn 1946, a time before many of the population even owned a TV, so when I say you owe your life to them, I don’t mean that half-heartedly; even if you didn’t watch any of their films, there’s a good chance your parents or grandparents did, an action which no doubt averted the inevitable tragedy that would have occurred if your mum (aged thirteen) hadn’t backed down from licking that live railway line as a dare.
You never know; it might have been you that showed it to her
But, kids are sociopathic little bundles of hatred, spit and downloadable ringtones; how on earth did the COI manage to get them to listen to the messages of each advert? Simple. Fill them full of imagery intended to cause the little abominations to suffer nothing less than a full-blown psychotic breakdown. Over the coming months, I’ll be attempting to document the best of these sub-two minute visual torture films; like a sort-of ‘Greatest Hits’ collection, if you want to be poncy and all that. Don’t have nightmares.
The One Where Blofeld Drowns Cockneys For A Living
At first, it’s hard to feel impressed by this film, mainly because you can imagine how spine-tinglingly not scary the filming of this scene would have been. You’re left sitting there pondering whether either Donald Pleasance actually learnt to levitate on water for the purposes of shooting this advert or (the more likely option) whether he’s standing in a puddle wearing a dressing gown borrowed from the wife of the director, whilst off-screen, a couple of work experience set off a couple dozen fire extinguishers.
“I dreamt of doing more with my life”
However, the second you take this guy out of Farthing Wood and put him in broad daylight, holy shit, does he become the scariest on-screen villain since Hannibal Lecter. For proof of this, there’s the scene where he silently walks up to a group of kids idiotically playing that favourite pastime of the 1970′s: hitting pools of water with a stick. Somehow displaying either an eerie ability to predict the series of events leading to a person’s death or simply by telepathically manipulating the mud of the waterside bank, he then proceeds to straight up murder this kid by drowning him. The evidence is much stronger for telepathy though, due to the fact that after he falls into the water, his three friends all just seem to simultaneously have their minds wiped clean and summarily refuse to acknowledge his existence. Or floating body, which we can only assume is still there.
The scene then changes to a serene peaceful river scene, where some idiot is pretending to be goddamn Spiderman, all in the pursuit of picking up his stupid football.
Inevitably, he falls to his death and our previously-unseen narrator walks off to rock other faces in other places. And by ‘rock’, I mean ‘drown horribly’. And that marks his only appearance during this skit, just leaving after the guy has fallen in.
Or is it? During the original panning shot over the countryside, you might something in the background.
Yeah, that’s him. Waiting. Watching. Silently. The rest of the advert is just fairly harmless feel-good stuff about kids not dying, which is a terrible shame because I think this advert could have been vastly improved by Pleasance turning towards the viewer, pointing towards them and threatening to pay a visit to them tonight. And then pulling down his hood to reveal a skull.
Sadly, he didn’t, but they might have just cut that stark warning out in the editing suite, calling it “pointless and silly”. He might have meant it though. Just be careful in the bathroom from now on, eh? You never know.