What does the end of the helicopter’s tail resemble? It is very similar to a usual children paint book presentation of the head of a ‘tail waging (rotating) animal’, namely: the dog. And the animal is, as the sign tells us, DANGER!, more so as we observe it’s rising tension mimicking the engine’s picking up of speed. If this argument appears stretched, we must bear in mind that subliminals of this kind are not intended to appeal to discursive mind, i.e. they are not meant to be understood, but are intended to provoke instinctive reaction. The way unconscious mind depicts meaningful patterns, as for instance in dreams, is always through some kind of transference of meaning. In what way the director and the editors of motion picture were aware that this signifier will provoke certain effect is beyond the scope of this study, but it is worth noting that this way of appealing to unconscious is highly manipulative in a sense that it is targeted to basic animal or, at best, child-like drives, and is practically a common place in TV commercials. Seeing meaningful patterns in random structures is a basis of infant creativity, but in mature age the patterns of meaning should be explicative, i.e. yield immediate meaning upon careful depiction. One cannot call this subliminal a symbol in a same way the cross or the swastika are symbols. It is more of a sign, like it says itself: a sign of danger. And it serves to amplify an emotion of impending, but still not apparent, danger pervading the introductory stage of The Thing.
Actually, I think that bit is bollocks