Our kids get out of school on June 16, and have been lame duck students for a couple of weeks now. They had to take some kind of intense standardized test, and then it was kick-back time. From what I gather, they’ve just been hanging around, sucking on Ring Pops, and watching movies since late May.
A few days ago the older boy was telling me about an anti-drug movie they watched, that was really old and over the top. He said everybody was laughing, and not taking it very seriously. Go figure.
And it got me to thinking… about the many “shock,” and hilariously portrayed informational films I was subjected to during my school career. And I thought, yeah, that would be a good topic for an update.
So, here we are. Below I’m going to tell you about the films that stick out vividly in my mind, all these years later, then turn it over to you guys to do the same. How’s that sound? Good, let’s go.
During grade school we saw a film that featured a woman suffering from elephantiasis. We pronounced it “elephantitis,” and couldn’t stop talking about it, for weeks on end.
The woman was normal-sized above the waist, but had legs the size of a washer/dryer combination. She was moving, ever so slowly, and it was like something out of Ripley’s Believe It or Not. We just sat there, wide-eyed and blown clean away.
News of this “elephantitis” movie spread throughout the elementary school within minutes, and kids who hadn’t seen it were completely out of the social loop for weeks.
It was one of the most amazing things any of us had ever seen. And, even taking into account the internet, it remains near the top of my list. Shit!
Also during grade school, we watched an anti-smoking propaganda piece that featured an endless parade of poor bastards with neck holes.
A few had electronic voice boxes, which made them sound like the robot on Lost in Space. It was mildly disturbing. But it prepared me for a guy on my paper route, years later, who spoke through one of those contraptions. He was really nice, and would vibrate, “Good afternoon, Jeff!” every day.
But it wasn’t the voice boxes that made the movie so memorable. Oh no.
One guy, you see, was so hopelessly addicted he continued smoking — through his hole! It showed him holding a cigarette up to the opening, there was a sound like a vacuum cleaner, and the tip turned red. Then, a few seconds later, a jet of smoke came blasting out of the dude’s neck.
It also showed a woman who’d just recently undergone a neckholectomy, or whatever, and was trying to learn to talk again. She kept going, “Bah… bah bah…… bah.” And we walked around doing that for a full month or more.
During junior high, all the boys in our grade were herded together into the gym, and they showed us a film about our “changing bodies.” It was from the 1960s, I think, and featured a lot of clean-cut doucheketeers in hard shoes.
The scene that sticks out in my mind was a kid sitting beside a small table with a telephone on it. He sat there agonizing about something, then picked up the receiver. He proceeded to ask some girl to the town picnic, or whatever, and put the phone back down.
Then he leaned back in relief, with his hands behind his head. And he had gigantic sweat stains, the size of trash can lids, under both arms. And the whole gym erupted in laughter/revulsion. Just a spontaneous, communal reaction.
And in high school we saw plenty of driver’s ed films featuring death and gore on the highways. Usually the Ohio highways, for some reason. One of these epics was called Mechanized Death, I remember.
All featured a lot of blood, and were fairly disturbing. But for some reason I clearly remember a scene in which a mangled car, now upside down, was shown in silhouette. It was dusk, and you couldn’t see much detail, but there was a corpse lying across one of the tires of the car.
I can’t explain why I remember that so vividly, especially since there were plenty more gruesome things shown. But there you go.
And finally, during a high school biology class, they showed us a film of a baby being born. A human baby… being born. And it was one of the most horrific things I’ve ever witnessed.
There was a lot of screaming, stuff ripping apart, a large tuft of Jimi Hendrix hair, something that looked like an entree at an Italian restaurant… It just kept going on and on. I wanted it to stop, but it seemed like it never would.
And now it’s your turn. Use the comments link to tell us about the movies you were shown during school, that left some kind of mark.
And I’ll see you guys again tomorrow.
Have a great day!