In that same vein as those scare-tactic educational films is one of my favorites of the genre: the bicycle-safety film One Got Fat from 1963. I used to teach a film class, and one of my units was on old educational films from the 50s through the 70s, so I have quite a collection of these film treasures. I recently re-discovered this old classic while sorting through my archives and thought I'd share it here.
First of all, One Got Fat is probably one of the most unintentionally creepy films ever made for kids. Ever. The film is about ten friends who decide to ride their bikes to the park for a picnic, then along the way, one-by-one the kids get picked off because of their mistakes -- some in particularly horrible ways -- while the cheerful narrator (voiced by Edward Everett Horton, whom some may remember for his work on F-Troop, or maybe from Fractured Fairy Tales -- yeah, really showing my age here) blithely and glibly describes their fate. OK, that alone is pretty creepy, but what makes it the stuff of absolute childhood nightmares (maybe adulthood nightmares, too) is that all the kids are depicted in hideously gruesome-looking monkey masks.
|It's like the freakin' Island of Dr. Moreau. (Shudder)|
|Look out Rooty!|
|Cue the goofy sound effects. Boooiiinnnggg. "Oops," says the narrator. "Exit Tinkerbell MacDillyfiddy. She forgot, now and then."|
|It's like Faces of Death.|
|Crunch. Squish. Splat.|
|At least somebody lived. It isn't clear what happened to all the freakish monkey/human hybrids, but we do get a shot of one or two in the hospital, bandaged from head to toe. You know, otherwise the movie might be too disturbing.|
|And then there are all those lunches whose owners won't be eating them (Notice that "Slim's" lunch is like a freakin' banquet. Ha ha -- 'cause he's fat, get it?).|
Wait -- that was only nine. So, what about the 10th kid? Well, that would be little Orville Slump, or "Orv" as he is known.
|"I am not an animal. I am a human being. I am . . . a man!" |
As a final disturbing note to the film, some might wonder what kind of friend Orville must be, considering that he continues riding on to the picnic to have a massive feast-for-one while all his simian friends are left maimed, disfigured, stranded, or flattened on the side of the road in the worst kind of traffic carnage outside of Red Asphalt and Mechanized Death. In fact, all the characters ride on without a clue as their pals are dispatched one by one.
More than a decade before John Forester published his classic bicycle skills guide Effective Cycling, the film One Got Fat predicated the principles of "vehicular cycling" through its basic lessons of riding with traffic, following the same rules of the road that the cars follow, staying off the sidewalk, obeying signs, and more. Unfortunately, it also gave juvenile viewers the unforgettable lessons that "Bicycling can get you killed," "Happiness leads to death and dismemberment," and "Even your best friend will leave you for dead if it means he can eat your lunch." And all of it came delivered with a healthy dose of fear.
You can watch One Got Fat right here, but don't blame me for resulting nightmares: