fbpx

From the radioactive disinformation of Duck and Cover to the gruesome California Highway Patrol–sponsored Grand Guignol of Red Asphalt, the industrial film has always been one of American cinema's most bizarre and endearing genres. With “Gems From the Archive,” celluloid swami Russell Harnden III fires up the clattering 16mm projector for a full evening of great 1950s-era public health, moral, education and safety shorts. The program promises a trove of offbeat treasures, including the compelling elementary-school etiquette melodrama Are Manners Important? and the epic disaster masterpiece An Outbreak of Salmonella Infection, in which an infected chicken carcass brings an entire Air Force base to its knees. (“Vomiting, abdominal pains and diarrhea,” an off-screen voice intones over a John Waters–worthy puke montage. “It was hard to tell which caused the most trouble.”) Each title centers on some terrible disruption from the sacred American norm, and each guarantees a mesmerizing, full-strength dose of weird. The confluence of stagey exposition, vintage period atmosphere, primitive animated sequences, dismal musical scores, lamentably poor acting and all those great, crisp-yet-folksy, know-it-all narrators instill a freakish type of cinematic rapture you just can't find anywhere else. Echo Park Film Center, 1200 N. Alvarado St., Echo Park; Thu., Sept. 18, 8 p.m.; $5 suggested donation. (213) 484-8846, echoparkfilmcenter.org.

Thu., Sept. 18, 8 p.m., 2014
(Expired: 09/18/14)

LA Weekly