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Oh, wait…I thought it said sub*lingual*


Here’s an interesting stinker we ran across while searching for a good ol’ atmospheric Saturday night flick: 1958’s My World Dies Screaming, AKA Terror in the Haunted House (link goes to full movie; be warned). We only sat through the first ten minutes, which seemed stupid and forgettable. Except for the psycho-rama part, which was stupid and slightly amusing.

It means subliminal images. The movie starts with a dream sequence (or a narration of a dream sequence), one that is dotted with still pictures, each on-screen for a fraction of a second. The year makes sense:

The birth of subliminal advertising as we know it dates to 1957 when a market researcher named James Vicary inserted the words “Eat Popcorn” and “Drink Coca-Cola” into a movie.

The words appeared for a single frame, allegedly long enough for the subconscious to pick up, but too short for the viewer to be aware of it. The subliminal ads supposedly created an 18.1% increase in Coke sales and a 57.8% increase in popcorn sales.

Vicary’s results turned out to be a hoax.

Okay, here’s the thing: Uncle B was only aware that the screen flashed in an odd way. Me, I was able to see the pictures clearly. Or, actually, I thought I could see the pictures clearly. When I slowed down the film and extracted the individual frames, it turns out I only really saw the top half of each. The bottom was a complete surprise.

Whoever wouldn’t mind sitting through the first three plus minutes, I’d be very interested to hear what you see, if anything.

I’ll give you some hints: the opening sequence has seven instances of two different pictures, A, B, B, B, A, A, A (per the IMDB entry, other pictures happen later in the film. I didn’t sit through the whole thing). In the version I linked, the pictures appear at 1:34:22, 1:42:20, 1:54:27, 2:06:27, 3:00, 3:06 and 3:09:12, each for about one one-hundredth of a second. Feel free to back up and try again (we did, several times).

When you’ve done that, if you care to, I’ll save you the trouble of firing up your video editing software: Picture A and Picture B.

What did you see?


Comment from pupster
Time: November 30, 2015, 11:09 pm

If I’m going to watch a movie, I’m going to need a sandwich.

*glances at Stoaty*

*glances at kitchen*


Comment from Stemboat McGoo
Time: November 30, 2015, 11:26 pm

I think I saw O’Bugger & Hilliary.

Comment from Carl
Time: November 30, 2015, 11:27 pm

I could see the whole face at the times you listed. Also one at about 2.22. In case I was kidding myself I masked the top half of the monitor screen and still saw the lower part of the face.

How did you slow the film down sufficiently to extract individual frames?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: November 30, 2015, 11:56 pm

Video editing software, Carl (I use Pinnacle). Well, there goes my theory that seeing the images is gender-linked.

(Pups, that’s adorbs!).

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: December 1, 2015, 12:12 am

Must be down to

A/ Old age

B/ Booze

C/ Stupidity

Comment from QuasiModo
Time: December 1, 2015, 12:39 am

SWeasel’s eyes are tuned to 60 Hz from all the video games she plays, so it’s easy for her to see them…those old movies are practically slow motion :+)

Comment from Timothy S. Carlson
Time: December 1, 2015, 4:54 am

Have you noticed that some videos either play faster than they should, or that there’s a weird oval shaped ‘fog’ over the video frame? I don’t know if it’s YouTube modifying the videos or users who are trying to beat copyright – but it’s damn annoying.

I won’t watch the ‘fogged’ videos anymore. And I usually detect the ‘sped-up’ videos when they play music I am familiar with, and it makes me strip a gear in the audio section of my brain whenever I run into it. GRRRR.

Comment from Formerly known as Skeptic
Time: December 1, 2015, 4:58 pm

I got a pretty accurate image of Picture A other than the detail on the lower half. I only got a very general sense of Picture B. I find the difference interesting.

I believe it has to do with mental paradigms – I saw a presentation on the topic once in which the speaker flashed images of playing cards for extremely short periods and asked the audience about what they saw. Some people could still make out the cards, but when he slowed them down you realized that even those people had gotten some of the suits wrong, because the cards had been altered such that hearts were black and spades were red and we misidentified them based on the color and the ‘general shape’ of the pips (i.e. red spades IDed as hearts). Our mental paradigm allowed us to make extremely rapid identification but misled us on the altered cards!

Ah – here’s a variant of the original experiment (Bruner and Postman, 1949) from the movie Interstate 60 –

Comment from gebrauchshund
Time: December 2, 2015, 2:50 am

I thought I’d found Waldo when image “A” first popped up.

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