When taken at face value, pictures from the olden days are either fake as hell or proof that the entire time between the Big Bang and our birth was totally fucked up. But, as we've shown many times in the past, with just a little backstory, even the strangest old-timey photo starts to make sense. More or less.
#11. "Within a Week, You Won't Even Miss Your Real Hand!"
"Gentlemen, three men died to bring you the Jack-o-matic prototype ..."
Now this is bullshit. This photo was taken about 50 years ago -- why are we not all wearing mech suits right now? We understand that this dude was almost certainly killed by Superman days after this photo was taken, but somebody should have picked up where he left off and given us all the terrifying cyborg future we deserve (which, of course, we would all simply know as "the present").
This is a 1965 General Electric concoction called the Hardiman, one that we're fairly certain they have never used to coerce deadbeats into paying their electric bills. Their goal was to build the ultimate human helper, a giant mechanical exoskeleton that provided "super strength for average man." Strenuous tasks and the handling of dangerous materials would no longer be a hassle, as the ton-plus of steel enveloping your body would easily handle all the heavy lifting. You know, like how Doctor Octopus just wanted help doing his experiments.
This is what happens when a Village Person turns to supervillainy.
The problem was, it was too heavy, and GE abandoned the Hardiman in 1971, never promoting it past prototype level. Come on, guys, how the hell is Ripley going to defeat the alien queen if we don't get this shit working?
#10. At One Time, G.I. Joe Vehicles Existed in Real Life
And were inspected by spiffy swing trios.
Owning a tank would certainly be badass, but where would you store it in between bouts of squashing your enemies and blowing up any building you deem too ugly to live? Back in 1938, Frenchman J. Lehaitre unveiled the compact tractor-cycle, named as such because the "you-die-now-fucker-cycle" didn't roll off the tongue as well.
Its big hook was supposedly its ability climb up steep hills and handle rocky terrain that a regular old Harley would simply wuss out over. Unfortunately, its low top speed (25 mph on a boring-ass straight road), ensured that the tractor-cycle never caught on. It also might explain the downright-bored look on that poor test-driver's face.
#9. "Set the Engines for Ramping Speed!"
Library of Congress
"Make everyone run forward to the bow!"
While this may look like the Love Boat-Dukes of Hazzard mashup we all demanded but never got, it's actually a real boat with a real problem. In August of 1910, a steamship known as the Princess May was sailing around Sentinel Island in Alaska when a combination of fog and low tide threw her off guard, sticking her smack-dab on a tiny batch of rock roughly the same shape and size as the ship herself.
The above photo's realness becomes even more apparent with the follow-up shot, featuring the Princess May hoisted up on scaffolds to keep its hull from getting scratched up by the rocks.
Princess gotta look pretty.
While this has to be the second-most wrong thing you can do while steering a boat, it could've been worse. It could've been the other Sentinel Island, the one with pissed-off natives who violently murder anybody within arrow-shot, no matter how nice their boat might be.
#8. Finally, a Vision of the Future Just as Stupid as What We Got for Real
The bowtie was so he'd look dignified.
This isn't a creative rendering of that sad moment when grandpa completely loses it and you need to put him in a home -- that man is Hugo Gernsback, widely considered one of the founding fathers of science fiction, even though his magnum opus, Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660, is widely considered to suck quite a bit.
Ever the imaginative soul, Gernsback believed that one day we would watch television via special goggles with the screen built right in. That up there is his prototype. And sure, it looks pretty stupid, but compared to Google Glass or the Oculus Rift, it's classier than a goddamned monocle. Half a century later, and we wish we could make that shit as comfortable and compact as that.
#7. Hellraiser: Origins
"Better? Or worse?"
This is just straight-up torture porn, right? Those needles are clearly burrowing into her skull, and that head vice is forcing them in deeper and deeper, allowing brain matter to seep out at will.
Ha, don't worry, this is actually just 1930s-era cosmetic surgery. Oh, wait, that might actually be worse.
That unassuming-looking supervillain working the Saw helmet is Max Factor, a Hollywood beauty legend who knew how 200-foot theater screens could really bring out the ugly in an otherwise normal-looking face. Thus, he designed the beauty micrometer, a giant studded mask that pointed out exactly where everything was supposed to go on a perfect face. If anything wasn't where the screws said it should be, Factor would mark it down and recommend surgery to correct the crime against sexanity.
"Activate the smile clamps!"
Factor died in 1938, but his legacy of sexing up an otherwise-ogrish squash with medieval torture devices did not die with him. If the phrase "torture devices" seems like hyperbole, you should look at how they removed freckles:
via Famous History Images
This is a combo of at least three traps from Saw.
The white orb the gloved hand is smearing on that poor bastard is dry ice, the medieval torture device is intended to keep the head in place and protect the eyes during the treatment. We're going to assume the pipe in the patient's mouth is the result of a gruesome accident.
Speaking of ...
#6. Even Back in the Day, Nobody Enjoyed Going to the Gym
"Dammit, Junior! You march yourself right into the Rib Constrictor and keep tightening the grip until you hear something pop. That'll learn you to wear unshined boots in public."
Actually, this isn't a punishment, technically -- it's exercise. Supposedly. In the 1890s, Gustaf Zander and EF Goransson designed a dozen elaborate workout machines, designed primarily to correct spinal issues. They also worked for adults, such as this prototypical rodeo cowboy:
This bondage queen:
This lonely soul who can't find a girl to massage his achy bones for some reason:
And this handy-dandy solution for whenever the surgeon needed to keep his patient still but ran out of anesthesia:
If the patient got too twitchy, the little bell would ring.
Never before had the human body been given so many opportunities to stank up a perfectly good three-piece suit. And don't forget the kids! What's happening to the child in the below machine is perfectly healthy, and legal! It's not doing anything at all to his butthole. Why would you even suggest that, you psychopath?
We won't talk about the nipple bar, nor should you.