Apaches is a 1977 public information film from the United Kingdom. Intended to remind children of the dangers of playing around with farm equipment, this 26-minute-long film was distributed to and screened at schools all over Britain. The film was directed by John Mackenzie, written by Neville Smith, and produced by John Arnold and Leon Clore.
It was shot on a farm in the Home Counties in February 1977, with the child cast recruited from a junior school in Maidenhead, Berkshire, and was produced by Graphic Films for the Central Office of Information for the Health and Safety Executive. It was not only shown in schools, but it was also broadcast on television by ITV companies, particularly Southern, Westward, Anglia and ATV, whose regions covered large agricultural areas. It was also shown in schools in rural areas in other countries of the Anglosphere, including Australia, Canada and the United States.
It focuses on six children who pretend to be Apaches (the American Indian tribe) in their make-believe. They play their games on a farm where, one by one, they fall victim to fatal accidents. After that, they continue as if nothing happened, until only one is left.
Oddly, while most of the crew receive credits, none of the children who starred in the film were credited.
Tropes featured in the film:
- An Aesop: Farms are not playgrounds. The point of the film was to show how dangerous it is for children to play recklessly around farm equipment, so this is a given.
- Bookends: Kim and Danny are respectively the first and last child to die, and both deaths result from the misuse of a tractor.
- Dead All Along: The dinner party is revealed to be for Danny's wake.
- Death of a Child: If it wasn't in broad daylight already.
- Deer in the Headlights: Danny's expression every time one of his friends is killed, or about to be. Strongly subverted in the case of his own death, where he goes down screaming.
- Dull Surprise: Danny's reaction to his friends dying.
- Dwindling Party: The six friends (Danny, Kim, Sharon, Michael, Tom, Robert) all start dying one by one. In more detail, Kim is run over by a tractor, Tom drowns in a slurry pit, Sharon drinks weed killer, Robert is crushed by a fence and finally, Danny is killed by crashing a tractor down a hill. Only Michael lives to tell the tale.
- Forgotten Fallen Friend: Taken Up to Eleven. When one of the kids dies, the rest of them are acting in the next scene as if nothing happened.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Kim's death. We see the tractor bounce as it runs her over, and then it cuts to a blood splatter on the ground.
- I Want My Mommy!: Sharon's death. In her agony, she can plainly be heard screaming for her mother.
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: Four out of the six kids get proper introductions. The last two? "Tom, Robert."
- Only Sane Man: Michael, the 'daft' one in the bunch, survives everything. He refuses to drink from the bottle found in the tool shed (which contains deadly Paraquat) note , and always seems to be lagging slightly behind all the others. It turns out that he has a reason to be concerned.
- Posthumous Narration
- Red Herring Shirt: The lack of a proper introduction for Tom and Robert doubles as this.
- Scare 'Em Straight
- Scream Discretion Shot: Poor, poor Sharon.
- Sole Survivor: Of the six children, only Michael walks out alive.
- Time-Delayed Death: Sharon unintentionally drinks weed killer and just decides to walk it off. It doesn't kick in until a few hours later, when she wakes up screaming in agony in the middle of the night.
- She even spit most of it out. Not like it could have saved her though, given the likely ingredients (see the Nightmare Fuel tab for a bit more elaboration).
- Too Dumb to Live: Just about all the children. They do stupid things that get them killed, and then keep on doing them. The parents and the farmers count as well, since they keep letting the kids run around the farm without supervision. Sadly, this is very much a case of Truth in Television, as many children do indeed die in farm accidents such as those seen in the film each year.