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Making an ad around Christmastime is pretty much a slam dunk -- you portray a beautiful family giving your product as a gift, and boom, you're done. If you're selling something that nobody gives as gifts, like cars, who cares? Stick a big red bow on that shit. But people still manage to screw it up, and we like to point out the most horrifying examples.

So here are more old-school holiday ads that make us wonder what the hell the past was thinking.

The 12 Giant Hell-Bats of Christmas

No, this isn't us fucking with you, this is an actual holiday card distributed around the 1890s. We're guessing there must have been a bunch of end-of-the-world anxiety about the year 1900, because in what other context would it make sense to say, "Remember, these pantsless kids riding huge bats are coming for you. Soon. Happy New Year"?

This ad (or greeting card, or prophecy, whatever it was) is an endless pit of horrors -- the longer you stare at it, the more dark secrets reveal themselves. Did you already notice that the demonic children riding those winged nightmares also have wings? And that the children are whipping the giant bats like horses?



Clearly what we see here is a Christmas tree that, minutes before, started speaking to the family in an unholy voice, booming with curses in an ancient dead language. The priest was called, and he set the cursed thing ablaze. It was too late to save the mother's sanity.

This is actually an ad for Pyrene fire extinguishers, but it's hilarious even in that context; the father in this photo clearly has no intention of dousing that huge blaze with that little bottle of Pyrene and will instead be bludgeoning that fire to death with his bare hands. That is not a startled father quickly reacting to a household emergency. That is an old man seeing his nemesis return for the last time. "So once again it is just you and I, fire. You have sneaked into my home disguised as a Christmas tree, like a coward. For this, you will die at my fists. Margaret, make Sally watch."

"Damn it, Steve, you're drunk!"

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This Child Is a Terrified Hostage


The photograph that woman is taking is about to be mailed to that girl's mother with a ransom demand, possibly with a tiny severed finger included. That weeping girl has no idea where she is or who the monster behind that fine Kodak camera is.

We suppose you could say that, in reality, this is just an ad about a mother photographing her little girl on Christmas morning, and this girl likes to open presents in bed (and the girl is apprehensive because she lives in an era when terror lurks around every corner). But Kodak actually had a whole series of these ads, and each and every one featured a woman photographing a young girl, in her bed, with a doll. Often against the girl's will:

"Move the doll down -- you can still see the handcuffs."

Look close -- we're pretty sure that girl was drugged. So maybe this was a holiday tradition back in the early 1900s? If so, all we can say is that the kids definitely were not on board with that shit.

This Child Is Aroused


OK, this kid is a little too on board with whatever is going on here.

In 1970, GE wanted you to know that their lights were cool to the touch, and this little kid wanted to make sure that was the most awkward thing you learned about all day. Now, it's not this kid's fault that she got a haircut as bowl-shaped and lopsided as one of the Three Stooges, but the look on her face says that either there is something really freaky going on off-camera to the right or she's possessed. You can decide which is creepier.

And while we're on the subject ...

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Pantsless Santa Role Playing


We know the 1950s were a simpler, more innocent time, but that does little to make us feel in any way OK with this underwear ad. Seriously, Fruit of the Loom, we'd feel a lot more comfortable if you splurged on separate men's and boy's ads, or maybe just added any kind of context. Instead, it's two grown men and a child standing around in their underwear with just a Santa mask between them. And can we also talk about Santa mask choices? Maybe next time a little less eyebrow raising and come hither whistling? Thanks.

"Oooooooo, look at all that cock!"

Wait a second. Is that a two-way mirror on the other side of the room? Who do we find in there watching ...


"Hang Another Revolver Here, Honey, There's an Empty Spot."


Yes, these were the old days when you'd hang your Iver Johnson revolvers right on the tree, as the danger was apparently outweighed by the awesomeness of a tree covered in guns. With all of the talk about gun control we're going to hear over the next few months, it's borderline surreal to see these old-timey ads that brought to mind a husband and wife toasting some eggnog around a tree drooping under the weight of a dozen gleaming instruments of death. Guns than are hanging by the goddamned trigger. Do you have any doubt at all that shit is loaded?

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Our Love Will Survive This Avalanche of Spoons


Soooo, this is an ad for spoons that really needs to get some perspective on how important cutlery actually is. We like cereal and spoon-related activities as much as your average man-child, but we're not willing to let someone grope us in exchange for some awesome utensils, as is clearly happening in this ad.

Just look at the wife's complete lack of expression -- that's not joy or excitement or even gratitude. That's just numbness, which leads us to believe that this isn't a spoon ad at all ... wait a second, isn't heroin cooked using spoons? Yeah, that lady is riding the H-train. Tell us she's not.

Santa Has Strangled a Goose


It's not that Santa is selling beer that bugs us about this ad -- he actually used to market alcohol and cigarettes all the time -- but what is slightly unsettling is that Santa Claus obviously strangled that goose to death like seconds before this photo was taken. Don't tell us it's part of the meal -- everything else on the table is steaming hot and ready to eat, and that goose is just lying there in its death pose, feathers and all, killed so recently that Santa had clearly just dropped it as the cameraman walked in the door, one wing extended in a desperate last bid to survive before Santa watched the life fade from its pleading eyes.

That is what happens when you swoop down and try to eat one of Santa's grapes, kids. You become part of the goddamned meal.

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Note the Severed Heads at the Bottom


This 1865 ad is actually just Harper's Weekly thanking its customers for their business. But studying it closely, we've developed a theory that the artist started drawing at the top and slowly went insane as he worked his way down.

Because at a quick glance, this seems pretty standard issue old-timey Christmas, but our creep-ometer started going off when we saw Santa winking lustfully from the center, being all "Ladies ... I mean ... children." But keep going down to the bottom and you'll see that the town has gathered for the annual Christmas decapitations of their giant-headed residents, as is tradition, which has incorporated the usual Christmas tropes: swords, dwarfs, kung-fu fighting and exactly one clown. Also, the set appears to have caught fire, leaving no hope of escape for anyone in that crowded building.

Which is somehow less terrifying than the thought of anyone here escaping alive.

Merry Christmas, fuckers!

D. McCallum has more inappropriate Christmas humor, but with superheroes, on her website, Texts from Superheroes, on Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter.

For more holly jolly terror, check out The 6 Most Horrific Ways Pop Culture Has Misused Santa Claus and The 11 Most Unintentionally Creepy Christmas Ornaments.

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