By the time this national Film Board of Canada anti-smoking PSA came out in 1970, Dark Shadows was already so popular it had begat a Canadian copycat, Strange Paradise. I’m not knocking it, by the way. Strange Paradise definitely retains some of the charm of its predecessor, and I’d recommend it wholeheartedly for fans of DS. I’m just saying it’s difficult to believe that “Ashes of Doom” wasn’t intentionally parodying the creepy/romantic style of those supernatural soap operas. (The short was created by Don Arioli and Grant Munro, by the way—Munro created “Toys,” the brutal stop-motion short made from GI Joes.)
While I applaud the Canadian government’s sense of humor (and their awareness of the latest trends!) there are a couple of reasons why I don’t think this film stopped anyone from smoking. First of all, the one minute and 55 second short starts with 53 seconds of credits—that’s definitely time enough light up, or at least resent the film enough to want to smoke out of spite. Second of all, while it’s a good bit of slapstick, the minute-long skit doesn’t really show any negative connotations of smoking. It ends with the protagonist’s smokey lungs mildly inconveniencing a vampire, which would actually be a really excellent incentive to smoke if you were a Gothic soap opera heroine. O Canada, what you lack in effective public health initiatives, you make up for in good-natured satirical farce.