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History is the nightmare that keeps on giving. As we've shown you twice before, grainy black-and-white film combined with the insanity of old-timey people is a recipe for madness. The subjects of these photos may have shuffled off this mortal coil, but the unsettling nature of what they considered everyday dress will forever live on in the darkest depths of our minds.

13
"Now Dance for Me. Or Else My 'Brother' Will Become Very Angry."

Popular Science
Glasses and a World War I sniper rifle would only make him less creepy.

If you ever see this guy just sitting around, smoking a pipe, immediately call a SWAT team -- it's safe to assume this man's supervillain scheme is already well underway. (Note: Getting captured is almost certainly part of said scheme.)

In reality, 1940s Two-Face is doing this for science -- he's relaxing on a beach in Florida while saving one half of his body so he can compare it with the sunshine in California. It seems like there would be an easier way to do that, but our larger concern is why he isn't just using a towel, or an umbrella, or literally anything else that doesn't make him look like he's kicking back after an exhausting murder spree. YOUR FACE COVER DOES NOT NEED A FAKE EYE, AND YOU FUCKING KNOW IT.

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12
Grandpa Was a Zombie

Age of Uncertainty
Or Grandma was an illegal ventriloquist.

Look at the face of the old man. WE SAID LOOK AT IT.

All right, now check out the thousand-yard stare on the child. Yeah, that kid has seen things, and that's because Daddy Murder Gaze made him watch. And then after, when the boy cried, Mother held him tight and whispered, "If you don't be quiet, I'm going to lock you in the attic with your deformed twin. He's so very hungry."

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11
The Original Pumpkinhead

Popular Science
This was not carved. It carves you.

WHAT IN THE POSSIBLE SHIT IS THAT?!? You can see the stem at the top; it's supposed to be a pumpkin that, just, grew like that? All we know is that there's no way that thing's mouth didn't move when no one was looking.

This all-too-lifelike pumpkin was grown by a farmer in 1938 after "four years of experimenting," and for some reason they wrote a glowing newspaper article about him instead of recognizing it as the origin story of a mad scientist. He almost certainly went on to decapitate that poor woman and attach the pumpkin to her body.

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10
Put Your Hand Over the Top Half of This Photo. Now Do the Bottom.

USC Digital Library
And try masturbating with your other hand. Just try.

A good creepy photo just gets worse the more you look at it.

At first there's the obvious fact that no possible context will make sense of what these women are doing, unless it's part of some occult ritual intended to summon Cthulhu. But keep looking -- specifically at the four human faces in the middle. Notice their expressions? It goes from "startled baby" to "worried boy" to "terrified adult" and then finally ends on "utter hopelessness and despair." It's literally depicting the progression of a man who, over the course of a lifetime, comes to terms with the bleak hopelessness of a cruel universe.

He is, of course, flanked on all sides by insane predatory birds and alligators. As are we all.

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9
While We Dine, Our Comrades Will Release the Nerve Gas

Ectoplasmosis
Eliminating the Dharma Initiative once and for all.

We want you to take note of the two signs in the back. On the left you have one that points out that this is a meeting of the "Optimist Club"; on the right, a sign noting that the theme of this dinner is "Why wait till 1955, we might not even be alive."

The Optimist Club is an international organization dedicated to community programs that help "bring out the best in kids." So you know things have gotten bleak when a club of Mr. Rogerses feels it's time to strap on gas masks for a banquet about impending nuclear annihilation. "You might as well go out into the night to rape and pillage, kids, because nuclear war will kill you all in a few months." Optimism!

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8
Executioner Football

MEARS
He cooks victims on the gridiron and then feasts on their flesh.

That ball's made with skin alright, but not pigskin.

Modern football is a little scary, what with all the brutal injuries and brain damage. But it has nothing on 1920s gridiron, where the players wore masks that would presumably protect their faces from blood splatter when they beheaded the losing team.

Again, the more you look at John Hellway here, the creepier he gets: The sunken, dead eyes. The needle through his belt, which he no doubt called "Ol' Stabby" and put to regular use in scrums. And the tear in his shoulder, where an opposing player clawed in vain as he held him down and watched his life force drain away.

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7
The Doctor Will See You Now

HJ Hickman
Your Earth weapons mean nothing to him.

See the cross on Buckethead's left arm? Yeah, this guy was supposed to help you. We don't know what kind of monster we'd have to encounter before we'd be willing to run toward this man(?), but it would have a lot of tentacles. Wait, why does his helmet have ears?

That is in fact a radiologist from World War I, because the Great War was basically a nonstop worldwide nightmare. "Couldn't we at least make things behind the lines look normal so our soldiers aren't constantly screaming in terror?" asked one general. "No," replied another. "We cannot."

And while we're on the subject ...

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6
Let's Play "Human or Killbot?"

Peoples.ru
Moscow's square will be red with your blood-stained urine.

This man is half prototype BioShock monster, half sentient North Korean dildo robot, and half leering pyromaniac hellbent on burning. Burning it all. We're aware that it doesn't add up, but neither does anything else about this unholy creation.

Somehow this is a Russian firefighter from the 1930s, although you'd be forgiven for assuming that he'd be far more likely to start fires than stop them. Because in the Soviet Union, even government workers who helped their countrymen for a living had to look intimidating. "Remember, comrades, put fire safety first! Or else I will come."

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5
Mr. Freeze Likes to Cross-Dress

Popular Science
A 1940s look at the 21st century burqa.

"Los Angeles is covered in smog. We need to run tests to find out how this will affect people living there."

"OK, let's put a big plastic bucket on some woman's head and pump smog into her eyes to see how much that bugs her."

"Jesus, what? Isn't there a less awful way to do this?"

"Probably. What's your point?"

"Right, I'll get the goggles!"

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4
Whatever You Do, Don't Let Them Take Their Masks Off

Auburn University Archives
Underneath are darker, hairier masks.

Are you noticing a theme here? That is, how everyday work uniforms used to look like something out of a Rob Zombie movie?

So what's the story behind these guys who look like a nightmarish Daft Punk prototype? Are they some sort of old-timey spec ops soldiers? Because they look like they should be chasing James Bond down a mountain.

Well, the word on their shirts is "Peugeot," which is the French car company. While it would be hilarious to have a car company sponsor supervillain shock troops, they're actually the driver and mechanic of a 1914 racing team. They look like that because World War I era, unending stream of Lovecraftian horrors, etc.

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3
Even Leatherface Likes to Jump into the Pool Now and Then

Spaarnestad Photo
The mouth is painted. It breathes through its eyes.

Goddammit, previous generations. You couldn't even go for a freaking swim without dressing like a serial killer? What was your obsession with hiding your faces in the worst ways imaginable? It's OK to go more than five minutes without testing some stranger's startle reflexes, you know.

OK, so since sunscreen hadn't been invented yet, this mask was probably worn for protection. Not to prevent sunburn, mind you, but to prevent whatever she-beast lurked behind that psychotic visage from spontaneously combusting, purged from the planet where it does not belong by the holy light of the sun.

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2
What's in the Box? Only Madness

J.A. Bradley
Only the rosary chaining him holds him back from your throat.

If there's one thing we don't like about going to funerals, it's that the priest overseeing the final farewell to our loved ones never dresses like the mocking specter of death. But back around 1892, funerals were apparently meant to uncomfortably remind all those present that the reaper is always, always watching you. Why else would this Italian monk have funeral attire that made him look like he was the one who caused the funeral?

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1
We Honestly Don't Know if These Are Costumes

via Hersteria
Torturous home invasion or treat!

This circa 1914 photo depicts either a family of murderous backwoods hillbillies or all of the era's classic Halloween costumes: Cross-Dressing Zorro, Unblinking Babushka, "My Mask Is Made of Human Skin and I'm Hiding the Carving Knife in My Hands" Man, and Boy Scout Gimp.

There's no mention of who took this photo, presumably because the film was found wedged in the empty eye socket of a body mutilated beyond recognition. Whether the woman added the eyes to her collection or just ate them, we cannot say.


You can read more from Mark, and see a haunting black-and-white portrait of him, at his website.


Do you have a cell phone with a camera? Then you're halfway to winning our pocket film contest. Bust out that phone and show us the funny in 30-seconds or less for your chance to win. Check out the contest details and submit here.


Related Reading: Ever seen a boat painted up like a zebra? Behold the Dazzle ship. More interested in terrifying old pictures? We've got another batch of nightmarish Gothic monks just for you. Keep your blood angried up with Brockway's look at old photos from back when the earth was mad.

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