"I used to laugh at safety" said Three Finger Joe
May 1, 2013 4:54 AM   Subscribe

Shake Hands With Danger is not just your ordinary, terrifically entertaining, 70s-era heavy machinery safety film. Oh, no! It also features some badass country-rock riffery and very, uh... site-specific lyric content that propels it into a whole other league of entertainment.
posted by flapjax at midnite (33 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you for this. Shake Hands With Danger is the greatest ever entry in the genre of industrial safety films. You art school kids with your Staplerfahrer Klauses can never understand the working class true grit of Shake Hands With Danger. I learned to play the guitar riff.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:01 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

That little "wha-whaaaa!" synth line is the greatest "horrible industrial accident about to happen" incidental music ever.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:03 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

We were introduced to this great little film via rifftrax...not that it NEEDS extra mocking per-say but for 99 cents it totally worth it!
posted by Captain_Science at 5:05 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

One of the favorite Rifftrax shorts in the Stardust household. If you watch many of the other Rifftrax shorts, you will notice frequent callbacks to this video.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 5:33 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

Today Metafilter has introduced me to Rifftrax.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:46 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

And then there's Will You Be Here Tomorrow?, with effects supposedly by Industrial Light & Magic.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:46 AM on May 1, 2013

flapjax: Welcome to Rifftrax.
posted by Wild_Eep at 6:33 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

LOL at around 3:00.
posted by resurrexit at 6:35 AM on May 1, 2013

If I am remembered for nothing else, I hope the internet will one day thank me for finding and scanning in the accompanying booklet to this film. For that bitchin' cover if nothing else.

This film is what introduced me to orphan films and lost media, and it probably contributed to my hoarding qualities today. More people should know about it and the Prelinger Collection in general, so thanks for bringing it up.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 6:39 AM on May 1, 2013 [22 favorites]

The "doo do do do doot dooo" guitar riff has become the warning sound several of my friends use to indicate "this is a bad idea" for a few years now.

"Hey guys, I just invested in Bitocins!" "doo do do do doot dooo"

"I'm rewiring my basement on my own!" "doo do do do doot dooo"

"Ok, Ok, just one more round of Jager shots..." "doo do do do doot dooo"
posted by chambers at 6:40 AM on May 1, 2013 [21 favorites]

Woo thanks 1f2frfbf !
posted by Captain_Science at 6:59 AM on May 1, 2013

Oh, look, Jim Stringer, the creator of title track for "Shake Hands with Danger" has placed online the original "Shake Hands with Danger" theme song (which was apparently sold on cassette at showings of the safety film) along with a bit of history about the creation of the theme.
posted by RichardP at 7:20 AM on May 1, 2013 [13 favorites]

a bit of history about the creation of the theme.

Warning: Color Assault On The Eyes. Wear sunglasses before following link.
posted by eriko at 7:25 AM on May 1, 2013

Graham Stark at LoadingReadyRun made a remix that's worth checking out.
posted by jiawen at 7:27 AM on May 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

Shake hands with danger

Meet a guy you ought to know

I used to laugh at safety

Now they call me Three-Finger Joe

posted by Curious Artificer at 7:34 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

1f2frfbf, the artwork in that booklet is TERRIFIC.
posted by JanetLand at 7:52 AM on May 1, 2013

I saw this in a screening of the actual film reel done by Skip Elsheimer in Durham, NC back in ... maybe 2002? If you aren't familiar with him he is a guy from NC who bought a ton of old films from the state and started doing shows of selected items. He works under the name A/V Geeks and now has the website of the same name.

I'm not sure if he still screens the physical films but it was not to be missed. At the Shake Hands (and others) screening he asked people to come dressed in pajamas. Great fun.

Here's the link to the same film on his site. There are tons more.
posted by freecellwizard at 7:59 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Aw man, something about the 70s... anybody else expecting one of these guys to either be one of the Village People or for the whole thing to morph into porn? Must be the hardhats.
posted by kinnakeet at 7:59 AM on May 1, 2013

Shake Hands With Danger is one of my favorite Centron/Caterpillar safety films. There are others, but they aren't nearly as good. The A/V Geeks had Jim Stringer at a screening at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin. We had a singalong for Shake Hands With Danger which included more lyrics. Jim revealed that the singer was Charles Oldfather - a lawyer with close ties to University of Kansas drama department and occasional Centron actor. Here's Charles' bit part on "The Day After".
posted by avgeeks at 8:14 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I can't watch this now, but I wonder if it can match the awesomeness of the German safety video about Forklift Driver Klaus.
posted by exogenous at 8:19 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Shake hands with Metafilter!

Meet a site that won't conform.

I used to snark at weblogs,

Know my username is orme.
posted by orme at 8:41 AM on May 1, 2013

1f2frfbf, thanks! Those scans are amazing. Some highlights:

"Forward" used instead of "Foreword"
"Patented" (not "patent") medicines (Is this the 1890s? Also: Patent medicines are, by definition, quackery. You probably shouldn't take them at all. Tranquilizers and painkillers are not patent medicines.)
"Always use a second vehicle to serve as brakes for a machine that has lost its braking power." My suggestion: Don't use a machine that has lost its braking power.
posted by dhens at 8:42 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'll just leave this here.

Ten Fingered Johhny
posted by blurker at 8:47 AM on May 1, 2013

From Jim Stringer's website (linked to by RichardP), regarding the song "Shake Hands with Danger":
The lyrics were written by John Clifford, who with director Herk Harvey, created the cult horror film, "Carnival of Souls."

Rifftrax SYNChronicity.*

*I'll show myself out.
posted by dhens at 8:48 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh man, I love Shake Hands With Danger. It has a special place in my heart and reminds me of one of the most memorable nights out I've had.

I found out that the A/V Geeks were doing a movie screening an art gallery in Wicker Park. When we got there, we saw that the screening was taking place outdoors on the roof. The movies were projected on the wall of the adjacent building, and the Blue Line L track ran right next to the building we were on. The night started with one of those filmstrips that had to be advanced manually - one person from the audience each read a slide, with a bunch of other people mimicking the *beep* that signified to the operator to turn the dial (remember those?). We watched a few videos, with the most memorable being Shake Hands With Danger and another called VD is for everybody.

The whole thing was so surreal. There's nothing like sitting on a roof, watching vintage educational videos with a PBR in hand, and having the Blue Line train roll by 20 feet away from us every 20 minutes or so. That's when I fell in love with Chicago.
posted by photovox at 9:04 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

I had never seen this film before. How had I never seen this film before??

I'm finding it surprisingly stressful to watch, though. Something about the pacing and winding-up of suspense is really successful--I'm cringing behind my hands and going "noooooo" like I'm watching a horror movie, while some guy with a porn stache casually unscrews the cap on a pan of hot, pressurized oil.
posted by theatro at 9:51 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Awesome. I knew a guy years ago who had this and several others on 16mm reels. LOVE old safety/educational films.
posted by rhythim at 10:55 AM on May 1, 2013

posted by ShutterBun at 1:58 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I own this on DVD, because after I saw it at Bad Idea Theater at Burning Man around 2003 or so, I HAD TO HAVE IT IMMEDIATELY. It is a treasured possession.

I should figure out where I put it
posted by flaterik at 2:29 PM on May 1, 2013

This is one of my favorite Rifftrax experiments, but the booklet that goes with it takes it to a whole new level--there's some stuff that may have been too dangerous to film. (Hey, let's test if this battery holds a charge! No, forget the voltage meter, just short it across the terminals with a pair of pliers, there's no way this ends poorly!)

Is there any clue who the artist(s) might have been?
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 2:31 PM on May 1, 2013

. . . The vocalist is Charles Oldfather, one time Dean of the University of Kansas Law School.

posted by Countess Elena at 2:38 PM on May 1, 2013

Classic stuff! Making things such as this film available to the masses is one of the great things about the web. Thanks!
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 11:54 PM on May 1, 2013

Shake hands with danger, Dutch Deco style.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:40 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

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