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Lonely Water

Updated  Sa 1-Jun-24

Three children stand on a mound of earth looking shocked, with a sinister, hooded figure behind them.

Donald Pleasence's creepy tones accompany this cautionary tale from 1973 about children larking about near water. One of the children is Terry Sue Patt, who went on to star as Tucker's mate, Benny, in the first few years of Grange Hill.

This film made it into Channel 4's The 100 Greatest Scary Moments, as voted for by the public and shown in October 2003.

The film opens with the camera tracking along a dark, misty river bank. We end on a figure in a monk-style robe whose face is concealed by a hood.

Voiceover:

I am the spirit of dark and lonely water, ready to trap the unwary, the show-off, the fool. And this is the kind of place you'd expect to find me...

Cut to a group of children playing on wasteground. One boy is trying to retrieve a football from a pool of water using a stick, and is being egged on by the others.

But no one expects to find me here. It seems too ordinary. But that pool is deep. The boy is showing off. The bank is slippery...

The hooded figure emerges from the background and can be seen behind the children. A splash is heard and the children fall silent.

The show-offs are easy. But the unwary ones are easier still...

A boy is fishing for tiddlers by the side of a large pond, using a net on a stick. His jam jar is hanging from a branch. He tries to reach out into the water with his net in one hand, whilst holding on to an overhead branch with the other hand.

This branch is weak, rotten. It'll never take his weight...

The branch snaps, a splash is heard and then the sound of ducks who have been disturbed.

Only a fool would ignore this...

Camera pulls back to reveal a sign reading "DANGER NO SWIMMING".

...but there's one born every minute.

Camera tracks along a gravel pit, showing items that have been dumped there.

Under the water there are traps: old cars, bedsteads, weeds, hidden depths. It's the perfect place for an accident...

Camera ends up on a boy struggling in the water next to the gravel pit. He is shouting desperately for help. Luckily, a boy and a girl appear on the scene....

Boy:

Oi! Look, there's someone in the water. Quick, g'is that big stick to get him out!

Voiceover:

Sensible children. I have no power over them.

Close-up on robed figure. The robe then appears on the ground, as if the body inside has disappeared, a bit like Obi-Wan Kenobi's death scene in Star Wars. The children dash to the rescue, trampling over the robe, which gets wet and muddy.

Boy:

Oi, mate, that was a stupid place to swim.

[to girl]
Hey, go and get that... thing to wrap him in.

You don't half feel cold, mate. How long was you in there?

The girl goes back to fetch the robe, but decides it's unsuitable and instead tosses it into the water, uttering something about how mucky it is.

Voiceover:

I'll be back... back... back... back...

You can see this Public Information Film on the "Charley Says..." DVD.

 The BFI has made this film available to watch for free online. It's part of the BFI Player website's Public Information Films collection.

 The soundtrack from this film has been sampled for an atmospheric drum and bass track called Hidden Depths by Scott Wills. You can listen to it on Bandcamp.

Other pages in the PIFs section...

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