RVOD053 Your Chance to Live: Technological Failures

(1973-ish, Educational-esque/Short, color)


Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Technology is boner-tastic.

Rating: ***1/2

In a Nutshell:

Fire bad! Machines bad too! But sometimes good!


Trying desperately to save a flatlining script.The short runs for twelve minutes—twelve full, information-packed minutes—and I still don’t know what I can add to my one-line “In a Nutshell” description. Basically, it’s a montage of stock footage—and by “montage” I mean “often just an epileptic barrage of one second clips”. Interspersed we see a thin, weather-beaten old man who narrates... well... Sometimes he likes technology. Sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes it seems as if he’s agreed to mouth a script written by a program that generates email spam. (You know, one that spits out random words in an effort to slide its unwanted missives past your filter.) At one point he spends nearly one full, narration-free minute trying to start his car. Your Chance to Live: Technological Failures is, in short, a twelve-minute expanse of sharp-edged, jarringly edited nonsense.


Stan Moff Tarkin.The short is a disaster preparedness film from the Your Chance to Live series of disaster preparedness films, made in the seventies in cooperation with various branches of state and federal government to be shown in schools. Just to be clear, I would not have known or even guessed any of the information in the previous sentence if someone in the Rifftrax forum hadn’t posted a link to teacher’s manual that goes with the series. I recommend you download and skim through it a bit. On its own, the short is an impressive bit of gobbledygook. With the teachers’ manual, however, it is nothing short of a monument to Things That Make No Damn Sense.

For a short this inscrutable, Mike, Bill and Kevin keep up with it surprisingly well. While the narrator mocks stock footage of early inventors, Kevin says, “Remember, engineering and innovation is stupid.” Bill comments on the narrator’s uncanny resemblance to a certain classic Star Wars character by calling him, “Stan Moff Tarkin.” When the narrator repeatedly makes his point that most people don’t know how technology works, Mike adds, “But we do know where Britney is at this exact moment.” The short is unfocused and impossible to follow, but the riffers insert themselves into its stream of consciousness so well that you can’t help but laugh at it moment to moment.