Public service announcements have the unenviable job of focusing on big issues in a short period of time. Extreme tactics are often used to ensure that potential viewers don’t drink, do drugs, leave their kids unattended, talk to strangers, or trust creepy puppets (it happens). Sometimes, the message being delivered can get lost if the PSA over-utilizes scare tactics or takes the creepiest possible approach to say what it has to say. As a result, people often tend to remember PSAs not so much for their content, but the emotions they evoke. Hands up if you’ve ever cracked an egg while saying “this is your brain on drugs, any questions?” Keep them up if you did that while high.
Clearly, you missed the point.
As we go through Halloween scary-stuff withdrawals, we figured it’s a good time to look back on the creepiest PSAs to ever exist. All of these ads are uniquely disquieting, but they share the common trait of being unforgettable. Take a look.
The Black Water
An entire generation of British kids were traumatized by the above PSA in which the Grim Reaper (voiced by Halloween‘s Donald Pleasance, natch) wants to drown everyone who comes in contact with seemingly any body of stagnant water in the U.K.
Surprisingly, a man in a police box is nowhere to be seen.
Hanna-Barbera Presents: Fever Dream
From The Flintstones to The Jetsons to other cartoons that weren’t just The Honeymooners set in the past or future, Hanna-Barbera was responsible for some of the greatest cartoons of your childhood. Yet all of the fun you had watching Yogi Bear or Huckleberry Hound couldn’t possibly prepare you for Hanna-Barbera’s dark side. As seen above, this trippy PSA from the production company is a 30-second innocence ender that shows the ravages drugs can have.
You listening, Shaggy?
Guts And Guitars
Remember in The Fly when Jeff Goldblum turned his monkey all inside out while experimenting with his teleporter? Imagine if that happened to a man who hangs around with sh*tty low-rent Muppets and enjoys Hee Haw and that will explain the vibe emanated from this bizarro PSA featuring nightmare provider Slim Goodbody. If the sight of a man whose organs went all flippety floppity wasn’t distressing enough, hearing his Johnny Cash-ian caterwauling certainly is.
Can’t Drink, Too Busy Screaming
From Finland comes an anti-drinking PSA that features sadistic clowns, horrible bunny monsters, an evil Santa Claus and other horrifying imagery. It’s an effective ad to be sure, and one that was so controversial that it spawned the above CNN segment.