Among all educational films none are as revered or as feared as the driver's education videos from decades past. Drivers ed films such as these are the first attempt at using scaring the shit out of children as an instrument for teaching them. Filled with candid accident footage aftermath that shows bodies
thrown from cars with brains jettisoned from their skulls upon impact, while always featuring the classic, impartial joyless voice of a narrator, if you have seen just of these films in your life you will remember them. Isn't that the very kernel of education-having to be only told once? And while I do not have any children, (at least none I know about) At the very least such films should be required viewing for youths about to get their first learner's permit or anyone else who thinks the fast and the furious movies were “just good clean fun”. While this set isn't as graphic cover to cover as the well known Red Asphalt series, it does what all good nostalgia educational films do and that's make you wonder about the strange sensibilities of the day. Or in this case, ponder at how deliciously insane their sex education films might have been back then if they would have followed the same formula.
Signal 30 (1959)
In Law Enforcement Tongues a Signal 30 designated a fatal car wreck. Now that you know the topic of the movie very little plot exposition is necessary as the carnage in this one is no happy accident. Signal 30 is the Grandaddy of old drivers education video and set the template for all to follow. Charred bodies, vintage cars strewn about roadways like unfinished Testors model kits and the voice of an all knowing, all encompassing Godlike Narrator asking us to “think about this for a moment won't you?” There are better looking drivers ed movies than this and there are more disgusting ones, but this one is the first one that actually perfected the cadence, the powerful rhythm between instruction and destruction. A delicate balance indeed for a genre of film such as this that only speaks in condescension and crash effects.
Don't overdrive your headlights! This is perhaps the only bit of actual wisdom in a film chock full of common sense tidbits repackaged as educational rules of the road which makes up the bulk of this one. Despite the poor production values this one attempts to offer perhaps the first recorded instance of a “dramatization” as a pretty young model's face is written on in magic marker to simulate the effects of a real life car accident involving a woman by the name of Jean Crowley. A great way to teach young people about careful driving as well get them to be senselessly afraid of the dark again.
Freeway Driving Tactics (1977)
A collection of different driving personalities and their driving habits, all explored through the use of voice over. As an antagonist they have a guy in a red 1957 Thunderbird convertible who is driving too fast and making trouble for himself and others. I personally identified with this character and thought much as he did that the drivers should have “moved out of his way or parked it!” for it is all too obvious that he was an important man with pressing matters to attend to. Yet, much as in any of these films, the one guy who has any sort of coolness about him ends up eating his dashboard and becoming himself another nameless dead jerk, or as I like to call such characters in films like this a “statis-pric”. This one isn't graphic at all, and the crashes are shown using old school industrial animation with explosions so violent that they must of used one, maybe two pencils to create them. Oh, the Humanity!
Traffic Rules (195?)
Designed for the small kids or anyone else who thought Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons were beautifully rendered, Traffic Rules teaches kids not to play in the street over the course of ten minutes. This one encourages children to become their own traffic policeman-literally; encouraging kids to imagine a tiny uniformed traffic cop who looks exactly like them living in their head, who governs them from walking into the face of opposing traffic. I guess a lifetime of Schizophrenia is better than a youth cut short by traffic accidents.
There are a couple more on this disk, but I have examined the gist of them and it does amount to little more than repetition of themes already expressed in this review.