Welcome to the factory of the damned – “Modern Times” as directed by Sam Peckinpah and filmed by your cable access station.
If there is, as I believe, a place where dreams come true – you say it’s Disney World, I believe Chuck E Cheese is more likely – then there might also be a place where nightmares are real, where all the frightening scenes and horrifying creatures you hoped you’d never see were right there in front of you. (Actually, both Disney World and Chuck E Cheese could qualify here too). Nonetheless, if there is such a hellish place on this earth, the apparently unnamed safety video we’ll call “Think About This” (named after the refrain in the nervous screeching that’s offered up as background music) is not necessarily where nightmares come true, but it’s definitely where the nightmare reality does all its shipping and receiving in bloody and horrifying fashion. Welcome to the factory of the damned – Modern Times as directed by Sam Peckinpah and filmed by your cable access station.
It’s a formula, the workplace safety video, but it’s an effective enough one, really. Introduce a perky but serious host as your guide to the world of safety. Show clips of a careless load or two losing their sight or getting crushed by a forklift to reiterate that safety is no joke; then ladle out some positive, proactive training so we’ll know what to do as well as what to eschew. This safety video takes a different approach: an unending montage of violent injuries and loud, guttural screaming. Over and over. Just so you don’t think I’m exaggerating, I went scene by scene to document the litany of pain in this video and counted about twenty casualties in the five minutes of footage.
Admittedly some of these you’d expect in a safety video: a guy’s foot gets crushed under a beam, while another gets his leg smooshed by a truck tire. But they make a point of being as graphic as possible; one guy loses two fingers in some gears, so we get a close-up of the hand spurting blood, and then a second close-up of the severed fingers on the floor. What is this, the Mos Eisley cantina? I also liked the guy who lightly touched a piece of sheet metal and ended up gushing buckets of blood. Two other favorites: having a worker get a faceful of steam or hot liquid, and random sparks and/or electrocutions. Each of these bumps off four guys.
Your hands… or what’s left of ’em
And then things get weird. Several of the victims don’t appear to be doing anything unsafe, but get offed anyway: one is very clearly wearing a helmet, goggles and gloves before he explodes like he was a Spinal Tap drummer. And some of the other deaths are caused by machines that would only exist in, say, a factory owned by Pinhead from the “Hellraiser” movies. One guy steps into what he thinks is insulation, but it’s actually some kind of grinder, and he ends up not only as sausage, but sausage wrapped into a pallet! Another guy has a flying wrench embed in his skull, while yet another hapless fellow is impaled in some kind of giant spiky roller; all that’s left of him is his hard hat.
Aagh, someone impaled Jeff Goldblum with a wrench!
Every last man goes to his death screaming in agony; sometimes the screams are slowed down to half-speed and half-pitch. Sometimes they’re covered in blood, sometimes they gurgle white foam, sometimes they ponder their fate as the life leaves their bodies, and sometimes they look like “Cars” singer Gary Numan. And on and on it goes, with screams and blood and gore and more screams and sparks and impaling and eventually the factory is bereft of living employees. No one is safe; no one can live through the work day. The warbly, overly didactic music reminds us that you can run from the metal monsters but you can’t hide:
You were alive this morning, when the sun came up
Let’s stay that way today
There’s no guarantee that you will
It takes some effort, ok
This is a song you’ll want to hit once you hear it; it’s screechy and uses minor keys to be “scary” and keeps reminding you about how one little slip up here or there will KILL you dead in a second before you even know what’s happening. Excuse me, I’m not the one who organized this pageant of excruciating, life-wrecking horror, am I? And then, after your wide eyes have taken in every bit of mindless industrial horror possible… the pain stops. The scene changes to a dude hugging his kids, and the kids are happy because he remembered to be safe. Or, actually, because he works in a regular old office and not in an unholy flesh foundry whose daily death toll makes the days of molten-gold-down-the-throat torture seem calm and safe by comparison. Hold those little ones tight, Dad; that way they can’t see your lips trembling and your eyes filling with fear.
And that’s where it ends! You’d think they might mention how to be safe for, I don’t know, maybe five seconds, but there’s no room for reflection or resolution here; there are too many limbs to be hacked off! I wouldn’t be surprised if this was actually designed for workforce reductions instead of safety training; who would want to watch graphic visuals of spurting blood and amputations and then waltz back onto the machine floor? Anyway, this one is worth a view, if a) your stomach can handle the gore and b) you don’t actually expect to learn anything about being safe. Fortunately, safety is job one at this website already; in fact, we’ve never had a workplace accident, unless you count the time Max somehow zipped his beard in his pants, waddled into the wall and was driven through the carpet, Looney Tunes-style, by the wall-mounted ironing board. But that was during an office party for United Nations Day that Max threw by himself, so technically it doesn’t count. Recommended.