RVOD130 What If We Had a Fire?

(1970s-ish, Educational/Short, color)


Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Actual fires would be far less funky.

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell:

A worried elementary school student crafts a fire escape plan for his family.


No fire up there.  He must be jumping into it for some reason.A youngster walks through the burned-out wreckage of his friend’s old house and wonders, what would happen if his own house caught on fire? His mother brushes off his concerns, but his father thinks it’s an excellent question. Unable to come to a consensus over dinner, Father directs his son to stop by the fire station and ask the next day.

Swanky disco music kicks in for the fire station tour montage, after which the boy asks his fireman tour guide to weigh in on the fire escape plan question. The fireman waxes eloquent about the wonders of smoke detectors, sleeping with your door closed, staying close to the floor, and climbing out the window in case of a fire. The boy brings this information home to his father, who immediately installs a smoke detector and rope ladder. He drills his family over and over at all hours of the day and night, crawling, climbing and squeaking their way out of the house in the face of simulated danger.


If you switch the score over to Blaxploitation funk every time an African American appears on screen, is that racist? I’m pretty sure it is, just like I’m pretty sure the makers of this film don’t mean any harm by it. By including an African American at all (as the firefighter, filling the short’s Wise Ethnic Person stereotype requirement) they seem to be trying their best to embrace cultural diversity. The funk just reaches a little further. “We just really get you, man,” it rather cluelessly states.

It’s far from unique to this film. Just off the top of my head, I can think of two other recently released Rifftrax shorts that do this.

A few favorite comments: When the firefighter tells him to go out the second story window instead of the door, Bill says, “Maybe you can fly, and you just don’t know it.” As family members wag their butts in the air while crawling during a drill, Kevin asks, “What middle-aged woman wouldn’t want to be filmed from this angle?” At the end, when the boy says that they’re house will probably never burn down, Mike adds, “Let me push my bucket of oily rags even closer to the radiator as a direct taunt to God.” It’s a decently amusing short. Not hilarious, but nothing wrong with it either.