SCHOOL OF SHOCK: PAIN AND PLEASURE IN THE CLASSROOM SAFETY FILM
2012-10-15 - 2012-10-22
SCHOOL OF SHOCK: PAIN
AND PLEASURE IN THE CLASSROOM SAFETY FILM
Mondays, October 15 + 22, 7-10pm
at Friperie Potetr
Instructor: Kier-La Janisse
For many genre fans, a love affair with horror and the grotesque began early on, sometimes fuelled by unlikely sources. One of these was the classroom safety film, which for many kids was their first time seeing other children threatened by true danger, being confronted with a combination of gore effects and actual accident footage, and being offered a pictorial glimpse at things their parents didn’t want to talk about. Thousands of these films were made from the 1940s through the 1980s, when companies like Centron, McGraw-Hill, Coronet, Encyclopaedia Britannica Films, Avis Films, Crawley Films, Bell Labs, the NFB and others thrived on the burgeoning market for classroom or workplace educational films.
Subjects ranged from safety in and around vehicles, to drug abuse and venereal disease, teaching children scary lessons about everything from dental hygiene to how to spot a pedophile. The most memorable of these films deliberately used horror visuals to entice and/or shock children into paying attention – such as those by prolific producer Sid Davis (1916-2006) - and some were even made by directors with genre film pedigrees, such as Herk Harvey of Carnival of Souls, William Crain of Blacula and Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde, and cinematographer Douglas Knapp, who later shot John Carpenter’s Dark Star and Assault on Precinct 13.
Each week we’ll have lecture and discussion, punctuated by viewings of some of the most notorious educational films of the 40-year golden age of social hygiene onscreen. We’ll also briefly look at educational television PSAs, from the British Public Information Films through the 1980s Partnership for a Drug Free America and Latter Day Saints commercials, and up to the incredibly grisly Australian drunk driving commercials of the 1990s
The classic ‘era’ of classroom films may be over, but viewed from today’s perspective, some of these films – many of which were not made by people with a professional background in education – are horribly misguided (and unintentionally hilarious), but offer up a fascinating survey of changing social mores and cultural preoccupations (not to mention fashions!). Being safe has never looked so grim.
Instructor: Kier-La Janisse
Kier-La Janisse is a writer and film programmer who co-founded the Blue Sunshine Psychotronic Film Centre and The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies, and currently curates the film section of the POP Montreal International Music Festival and serves as editor of the online magazine, Spectacular Optical. She has been a programmer for the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas, founded the CineMuerte Horror Film Festival and the Big Smash! Music-on-Film Festival (both in Vancouver) and was the subject of the documentary Celluloid Horror (2005). She has written for Shindig!, Filmmaker, Rue Morgue and Fangoria magazines, has contributed to The Scarecrow Movie Guide (Sasquatch Books, 2004) and Destroy All Movies!! The Complete Guide to Punk on Film (Fantagraphics, 2010), and is the author of A Violent Professional: The Films of Luciano Rossi (FAB Press, 2007) and House of Psychotic Women (FAB Press, 2012).