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Driver’s Ed Shock Horror Top 5 by ‘BLOOD ON THE WINDSCREEN’ author John Harrison!

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John Harrison, author of BLOOD ON THE WINDSCREEN (which we reviewed in FANGORIA #323 ) selects his five personal favorite drivers’ ed scare films! Ironically, while these films were originally showed to kids as young as 12 , times have changed, and so we’ve age-gated them here! Warning: some of these films are very graphic, containing an overload of real accident footage, and should be watched with extreme caution.

Text courtesy of John Harrison:

THE LAST DATE (1950): The first classic driver’s ed film, a fictionalized short starring Dick York (BEWITCHED’s original ‘Darren’) as a high school hothead and speed freak who seems content on committing “teenicide” (described in the film as “the fine art of killing yourself with an automobile before you reach the age of twenty”).

THE THIRD KILLER (1968): One of the most creative of the Highway Safety Films’ productions as it combines the graphic, authentic crash footage with a bizarre plot about a mean-spirited salesman named Rellik (say it backwards) who is convinced that his company’s ‘third account’ will become its biggest and most profitable within a matter of years. As Rellik himself describes, their third account has “annual sales of 55,000″, and is an “untapped market with fantastic potential – 87 million in the US alone!”. It soon becomes clear that Rellick is a grim reaper, and the company’s third account is in fact highway accident deaths (their first and second accounts being heart failure and cancer respectively). “That instant before impact, look beside you – I’ll be there”, Rellick proclaims, before standing on a highway overpass, waving his briefcase wildly at the traffic below him and screaming out “Run you fools – make my third account the bloodiest in the history of the world!”. Very surreal stuff indeed…

HIGHWAYS OF AGONY (1969): An ultra-grim Highway Safety Films title, thanks to narration that’s even more dour than usual and a chilling musical score by Hungarian composer Zoltan Rozsnyai.

RIDE TO LIVE, LIVE TO RIDE aka DEATH ON THE HIGHWAY (1971): The infamous film produced by the Suicide Club, which even manages to out-nauseate the Highway Safety Films titles at times. Suicide Club founder Dean H. Robinson narrates as if he is drunk and about to throw-up at the scenes he is describing, and the film amps up the shock factor by using crash scenes photographs that have their gory highlights touched-up by sickening bright red paint.

THE LAST PROM (1972): Another fictionalized short, THE LAST PROM looks like it was filmed a good ten years prior to it’s official 1972 production date. The black & white footage almost has a NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD ambiance to it, not to mention its dour funeral ending. "Sandy Clark is wearing her formal gown today. She wears an orchid corsage. But few will realize this, for the lid of the casket was not opened - it was best this way."

All these videos and many, many more are available from Something Weird Video, and you can also find some of them at AV Geeks who specialize in educational films. For more on the history of the Highway Safety Films Foundation, check out Bret Wood's awesome documentary HELL'S HIGHWAY. You can buy John Harrison's BLOOD ON THE WINDSCREEN here.

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About the author
Kier-La Janisse http://www.big-smash.com
Kier-La Janisse is a writer and film programmer based in Montreal, Canada. She is the Founding Director of The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies and a film programmer for Fantastic Fest, POP Montreal and SF Indie. She has been a programmer for the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, founded the CineMuerte Horror Film Festival in Vancouver and co-founded Montreal's Blue Sunshine Psychotronic Film Centre. She is the author of A Violent Professional: The Films of Luciano Rossi (FAB Press, 2007) and House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films (FAB Press, 2012).
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