1963 15 mins
dir: Dale Jennings

"What happens when a light-hearted and humorous film
intended to teach children about bicycle safety turns
into a bizarre and surrealistic vision of a world gone mad?"
- One Got Fat fansite


All artists have experienced the frustration of their vision not quite turning out the way they'd hope. Every creative person has realised their endeavours are rubbish, torn them up and thrown them in the bin. Or at least, most of them have. A few, in the spirit of Edward D. Wood Jnr, have ignored their own self-criticism and pushed on with their vision. Sometimes those ideas get pushed so hard, they go beyond being bad, and actually start become painful and disturbing for the audience. One Got Fat is an example of what happens when the creative instinct is allowed to work unfettered by taste, dignity or sanity. It was meant to be educational. It inadvertently launched the career of Peter Jackson and Tim Burton, and inspired countless Troma movies.*

(*well, possibly)

What is it?

One Got Fat is a short movie made in the early sixties, intended to teach children the basics of bicycle safety. It was presumably intended to be shown in schools, although it is unknown quite how widely it was distributed. The plot concerns 10 children, each a bicycle owner, making a trip to the park for a picnic. On the way, all but one of them has an accident which is caused by them disobeying one of the rules.

What's wrong with it?

The children are monkeys.

Okay, that's not necessarily a bad thing in itself. It's actually quite a neat idea - children like cute animals, and seeing funny monkeys could entertain and amuse them.

These are not funny monkeys, though. These are weird, scary, freaky-ass, shit-your-bed monkeys. The directors of this short forewent traditional routes, such as animated monkeys. The budget, presumably, didn't stretch to teaching real monkeys how to cycle, or buying realistic latex Monkey masks. So instead they got some kids and made them these incredibly disturbing papier-mache monkey masks, with empty soulless eye-sockets and malevolent grinning faces. These are not happy monkeys. These are The Monkeys Of Death. And accordingly, they all meet a grisly demise.

What happens to them?

Each of the monkeys, with a cutesy comedy name, dies horribly after breaking a rule of cycling: What's the point of this movie?

Who knows? If the approach was to scare kids straight, then why make the kids monkeys? And if the point was to entertain kids while teaching them the rules of the road, why give them such grisly deaths rather than showing them with a comedy bump on the head? It ends up being unusable for every purpose, and unsuitable for every audience, except internet-addicted slackers who want to be scared/amused in the 21st century.

What's with the title?

Well, the nine monkey children all put their lunches in the basket of the tenth cyclist, who at the end of the movie is revealed to be a human child named Orville Slump. He survives the nine-block journey unscathed by obeying all the previously outlined rules, which he does because...

..."he isn't a monkey."

Presumably the rest of the movie was a set-up for that gag. Anyway, when Orville arrives at the park, he does what every kid does upon learning that his friends have been killed and/or horribly mutilated. He sits down at eats all of their lunches. So, eight died, one got horribly injured, and one got fat. See?

I know that narrator...?

That's because it's Edward Everett Horton who used to do Factured Fairy Tales for Rocky and Bullwinkle.

http://home.attbi.com/~onegotfat/ - fan site with stills, clips and a full transcript
http://webdev.archive.org/movies/details-db.php?collection=prelinger&collectionid=03534 - download or stream the full movie (360mb)
http://southsidecallbox.com/ephemeral_one_got_fat.html - review of OGF
http://www.imdb.com/Title?0316351 - proof this isn't all a bizarre hoax