Tag Archives: retro psa

Donald Pleasence And The Grim Reaper Sends a PSA To Kids So Horrifying That It Actually Worked

Informational PSAs‘ were a natural part of traditional programming from the dawn of the boob tube up until the early 2000s’ where it became less common to have those in-between segments posing as commercials depressing you in the middle of your all-important Ninja Turtle program. While many may remember the 80s’ really got on the celebrity Just Say No bandwagon thanks to the likes of Nancy Regan, even with popular cartoons ending their show with a PSA of their own like He-Man and Jem which were informational, but light by nature most of the time, some were dark as hell. And in 1973, the most terrifying PSA debuted to British audiences everywhere that did its job; almost too well to the point, it made kids scared of water entirely.

That PSA was entitled ‘Lonely Water‘ or better known as ‘The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water‘, and veteran actor, Halloween‘s Donald Pleasence secured the ominous voice of the Grim Reaper in the film short.

How appropriate!


Born out of the Central Office of Information, ‘Lonely Water’ features a pre-Doctor Loomis voicing the character of Death, preying on the foolish youngsters who play near potentially dangerous areas of water. As noted in the Youtube description: “Creepy hints of ‘The Seventh Seal’ and ‘Final Destination’ make this a terrifyingly persuasive public information film, with Death’s final, ominous “I’ll be back” pre-dating Arnold Schwarzenegger by over a decade.”

Death by drowning is terrifying enough and this PSA went balls to the wall killing kids left and right in this thing. The Grim Reaper gleefully rejoices in a subtle, malevolent way as each “fool born every minute” succumbs to one of Mother Nature’s most beautiful, yet deadly entities. Kind of like Nancy taking Freddy’s powers away with logic, the kids that bear some common sense weaken Death’s grip, reducing him to only his death shroud, and obviously, he isn’t a fan of those children.

In a poll carried out by the BBC on the 60th anniversary of the COI in 2006, Lonely Water was chosen as the UK’s fourth-favorite PIF of all time and the highest ranked one-off production. Dozens of comments attested to the film’s power and lasting impact on 1970s children. I mean, if THIS didn’t grab your attention as a kid to be weary of large bodies of water and to act responsibly, I don’t know whatever will.

Shout to my buddy Lando for directing me to this tweet made by Horror4Kids as this was before my time and I’ve never seen this diddy being from the States.

Now Lonnie, get yo’ ass away from that lake!

That Time Stephen King Made A PSA For Public Libraries

Remember when we had those weird PSA announcements in between those now retired amazing Saturday morning cartoons back in the day? You know, the little segments starring Smokey the Bear, stranger danger, and the infamous “This is your brain on drugs” frying pan and cracked eggs gem. Also, I don’t think we could never forget about the time Pee-Wee Herman warned us about the dangers of crack.

It’s pretty entertaining when you stumble on these beauties and remember how the boob-tube was once upon a time.


Celebrities using their star power for bringing awareness to dangerous situations to our fragile little minds of yesteryear, wasn’t an uncommon thing by any means, as you can see above. As a matter of fact, master of horror himself Stephen King used his status as well, the king of literary fright, to make a PSA on the subject of public libraries and the importance of reading. Some of you may be asking yourselves, “Public libraries? What is this mythical place?” Well, let Sir King give you a quick run-down in this fantastic retro rewind from 1992!



Kind of makes you want to wipe off the dust off that old library card now doesn’t it?