Released in 1978 and voted the fourth-favorite PSA of all time in the UK, this 90-second clip called “Dark and Lonely Water” features the sinister voice of Donald Pleasence as the personification of evil water. The video ends as the voice echoes the ominous warning “I’ll be back-back-back.” Originally known by the much creepier title “The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water,” the clip was meant to warn children about the dangers of careless behavior in the vicinity of water.
After airing regularly for years on children’s TV stations, “Dark and Lonely Water” quickly earned virtual cult status as one of the most chilling PSA videos ever. Unlike many PSAs, this one did have an impact, though not necessarily the one the Central Office of Information intended. Many of the children who viewed the commercial not only became more careful when around water, they stopped swimming altogether, fearing death if they so much as dipped a toe in a puddle.