#6. Let's Play "Human or Killbot?"
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."
#5. Mr. Freeze Likes to Cross-Dress
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!"
#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.
#3. Even Leatherface Likes to Jump into the Pool Now and Then
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.
#2. What's in the Box? Only Madness
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?
#1. We Honestly Don't Know if These Are Costumes
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.