School of Shock

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.

This ongoing column will feature interviews and essays about a broad spectrum of educational programming, ranging from safety films and PSAs to industrial films and social guidance films. In this column we’ll also explore music, books, toys and kid-centric fictional narratives featuring imagery or ideas that haunted us as children and young adults .


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