Early in the movie, Strickland states he brought the creature back from the Amazon, where the natives worshiped it like a god. Later, as Elisa and Giles are attempting to take the creature from the lab, Hoffstetler, while helping them, says they need to add salt to his water along with the water conditioning chemicals he gives them in a box. The Amazon is a freshwater river, and if the creature was from from there, it would not be used to nor need a saltwater environment. However, that doesn't mean the water has 0 salinity. Amazon river salinity fluctuates over time and space and depending on where the creature is from, 3% (or 30psu) could be the appropriate salinity. Having said that, 30psu is nearly as high as regular marine water.
In one scene they walk past a store selling TV sets. There are about 12 TV's in the window, each one showing a different show, but there were only 3 networks in 1962 and no VCR's.
Besides the 5-star error mentioned already, the general's ribbons were upside down. And he was wearing air force wings on a green (army) uniform.
A close up of Strickland struggling with his pain medications reveals childproof ridges on the pill bottle. Childproofing did not begin to appear until 1967 and was not required in the United States by law until 1970.
The general's ribbon bar is upside down. The Silver Star and Distinguished Service Medal were his highest honors, and should be on the top row, not the bottom. His WW2 Victory Medal is much lower in precedence and should be on a lower row, not the top.
A 5 star general would not exist in 1962. The last 5 star general was Omar Bradley in 1950 and would have been long since retired. The U.S. military historically has only used this rank during times of war in order to achieve parity with or even outrank allied commanders from other nations under their control in combat.
As the Strickland family watches "Dobie Gillis" on TV, the son asks if they can watch "Bonanza". The two TV series were never on opposite each other: "Bonanza" was on Saturday or Sunday (depending on the year) and "Dobie Gillis" was on Tuesday nights.
When Elisa and Zelda are cleaning the men's room and Strickland comes in, you see cleaning products on a shelf. The bottle of Clorox has the present day logo rather than the one from 1962.
When Strickland (Shannon) drives home from the dealer's with a new Cadillac, the car has a regulation Maryland license plate. A temporary cardboard plate would have been issued for the first couple of weeks of ownership.
T-8 fluorescent lamps were not available until 1981.
Surveillance cameras in the early 60s, such as those used on the loading dock were MUCH larger than those used in the film. This was either a much newer camera, or someone's guess of what a surveillance camera looked like in those days.
When Strickland is shooting at the van with his revolver, bullet shell casings are heard hitting and ringing on the cement floor like an automatic pistol.
A WWII era sign is shown, "Loose lips sink ships". It would make sense for a government institution to still be using surplus posters from the war, as they are still trying to discourage the sharing of secret information.
There are references in the film to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. General Hoyt talks about the Soviet Union putting missiles in Cuba. Also, when Giles drives his truck up to the underground security gate, the security guard on duty has his radio tuned to John F. Kennedy's speech to the nation, announcing that the Soviet Union is building offensive missile sites in Cuba. However, according to Elisa's calendar, the events of the film take place between September 18 and October 9, 1962. The Cuban Missile Crisis did not begin until October 16, 1962, when Kennedy was shown photos taken by a U-2 spy plane showing the missile sites in Cuba. Kennedy did not make his address to the nation until October 22, 1962.
The dial tone and ringing tone heard in the phone at Zelda's house were not accurate. Dial tones and ringing tones of that era were more like buzzing sounds rather than the multi-frequency tones heard in the movie. Those are the tones used in modern landline phones.
In 1962, streetlights would have been mercury vapor lamps, with their characteristic greenish-blue-tinged light. Sodium vapor streetlights were not developed until the beginning of the 1970s and not widely used until the later part of that decade.
Michael Shannon's office includes racks of CCTV monitors, as well as Tektronix 520 Vectorscopes. Vectorscopes are used exclusively with color TV cameras, recorders, etc., and would have been of no use with the black-and-white cameras and monitors used in this facility.
The water "reflection" on the wall of the lab during the Chica Chica Boom Chic scene suddenly jump cuts revealing it to be a looped projection onto the wall, and not natural light.
When Zelda is on the loading dock and dials the phone, she only dials five digits. This was possible and functional in the early 1960s; seven digits were not required in some areas.
After Dr. Hoffstetler is shot in the mouth, a gaping hole is left in his cheek. We then see him down on the ground, with his mouth open and a bright floodlight shining on his face, and yet no light shows through the hole at all.
Strickland's taser lands on Dr. Robert Hoffstetler's abdomen when he is stunned, but in the next shot, the taser is on his chest.
The events of the film take place between September 18 and October 9, 1962, however, Richard Strickland visits a Cadillac showroom where 1962 Cadillac models were displayed. The United States automobile model year begins in August, so by the fall of 1962, the new 1963 Cadillacs would have already been in the showroom for a few months. It is plausible that Strickland could have bought a leftover "year old but still new" 1962 model, but there is no chance that 1962 models would have been in the showroom that late in the year.
When Elisa (Sally Hawkins) floods up her bathroom has the following problems:
1. Unless she also stopped up her toilet, the level of water in her bathroom would never have risen past that point. 2. Even if her bathroom is only 15X15X15 (conservative estimate), the amount of water would weigh approximately 200,000 lbs (1ft3 water = 7.5 gallons, 8.3 lbs per gallon). 3. Her apartment is shown as being above a theater, with a 1 foot crawlspace with wooden beams. The combined lack of obvious steel supports would have ensured that her entire bathroom would have been dropped into the theater.
The exterior of the lab was filmed at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus, built 1963-1965 with Brutalist architecture style, which was new to the US and Canada, but the interior looks old and worn.
When Elisa lowers herself into the bath the first time, the water spills over the edge. In the next shot she is still lowering herself, yet the water level is now below the edge of the tub.
Early in the film, we television sets on sale in a shop. The images on the screens are of a helicopter and a B-52 bomber. If they represent footage from the Vietnam War, this would be anachronistic because B-52's were not used in Vietnam until 1965.
In the beginning of the film Eliza's scars are on the right side of her neck. In the final scene they are on the left side of her neck. Actually, Eliza has scars on both sides of her neck (because they're actually not scars but gills). You just only ever see them on one side at a time, depending on where the camera is placed.
When Giles asks Elisa to turn off the TV because he doesn't like what's being shown, some of the footage appearing on the screen is of civil rights protesters being attacked by police dogs and sprayed with fire hoses. The most famous incident of such police attacks on civilians-and the likely source of the footage-was in Birmingham, Alabama, but it happened in May 1963, the year after the movie took place.
After Stricland drives his new Cadillac, he passes a Pontiac convertible. The white Pontiac is a 1963 and the year is 1962.
When Hoffstetler is done filling the syringe with the lethal fluid there is just a little bit of fluid in the syringe. Later, when he takes the syringe out of his pocket to inject the MP in his neck, there is much more fluid in the syringe.
Elisa's Bulova watch is at least ten years ahead of its time.
When Strickland sets his cattle prod on the bathroom sink the prod is at an angle to the sinks for a few shots. Then when Elisa approaches the sink the cattle prod has moved, it is now parallel to the front of the countertop.
On one of the first scenes of the movie, the compact range seen in the kitchen boiling water is a 1966 Frigidaire RG-22K, a Canadian model made in Scarborough Ontario that was never sold in the United States or before 1965.
At around 17:50, security is leaving the men's room and you can hear a door latch. when the door opens and closes. The door has a handle, not a knob. Therefore you would only hear a thump as the door hit the door jamb closing.
Strickland gets into his car while it is pouring rain outside, yet he never seems to get wet as he walks outside into the rain and proceeds to enter his car.
Following up to the 5-star general error, General Hoyt is an Air Force general. The only 5-star Air Force general was Henry "Hap" Arnold. He died in 1950.
In the bathroom scene with Strickland, Eliza and Zelda, there is a brief long-shot of Strickland picking up his cattle-prod and some blood remaining near the sink. In the close-up when Eliza notices the blood, the amount of blood has apparently increased.
The model of television predates unwired TV remotes.
The TV set in Giles's apartment- with it's large rounded-end picture shape - is a Color TV appropriate to the year. However, back in 1962 that was a relatively rare and expensive item likely to be found found only in a high-end home. The set in Strickland's home, with its squared-off B&W tube would have been more appropriate for Giles and vice-versa.
When the pie-diner guy explains his franchise arrangement, he says the company provides the "signage." In the 1960s he would have just said "signs."
Based on references to missiles in Cuba, the action takes place in last half of 1962. However General Hoyt says he has known Strickland since Pusan "thirteen years ago". The battle of Pusan was in fall of 1950, not 1949.
When Elisa brings her portable record player to the creature, she has two albums of big-band swing, a Benny Goodman LP on Columbia and a Glenn Miller album. The Goodman LP has the correct Columbia label for the film's 1962 setting but the Miller album, which is shown on her turntable, has a green label. Miller's record company, RCA Victor, used black labels for its popular releases.
When Strickland is driving his car to Elisa's house by the theater, his car is normal without bumps in spite of being crashed during the earlier escape. However, Strickland is not driving his car in that scene. In an earlier scene, Strickland and Fleming are staking out Dr. Hoffstetler's apartment. When Hoffstetler comes out, Strickland orders Fleming out of the car, to which Fleming answers "But this is my car". Therefore from that point on, Strickland drives Fleming's car which is undamaged.
At 1:24:08 the French song is "La Javanaise", written by Serge Gainsbourg for Juliette Gréco. First played March 1963, so about one year after the film.