13 Old-Timey Photos That Prove History Was Haunted
We've already pointed out that old photographs can be terrifying, thanks to that grainy black-and-white look and the fact that old-timey people were insane. But we've merely scratched the surface of the Lovecraftian world of horrors that our grandfathers called the present.
Here are 13 more photos to make you glad that you're living in the 21st century.
"It's Almost Like Mother Is Still Alive ..."
This might just look like a standard arrangement of weird-looking old-timey children, until you notice that there is a hooded thing right there among them. What the hell? Was one of them grossly deformed and had to be covered so the townspeople wouldn't come after her with torches? Because when you look at old family photos, you see it again and again -- often with the hooded figure lurking behind the kids like a sex offender Grim Reaper:
No, freakishly tall baby! Don't turn around!
The hooded figure is actually the children's mother, which, without further explanation, would only make this ten times weirder. Instead, this is a tragically failed attempt to make old-timey baby photos look naturalistic. See, back in the 1800s, cameras worked slowly -- you had to sit still for several minutes. Since that's impossible for an unattended infant, the mother had to hold her child while doing her best chameleon impression. At best, you got a portrait of a kid and a woman with a blanket over her head -- and at worst, it looked like the children were being haunted ...
That's the ghost of her childhood.
... or about to be dragged down to hell by a disembodied hand.
Now we know why Alfred Hitchcock turned out the way he did.
Of course, the kids' traumatized faces didn't exactly help.
All of these kids are dead now. Coincidence?
"Look Ma, I Can Pull My Zipper All by Myself!"
"Now where did that damn LEGO go?"
All right, this isn't actually a photograph, but don't you feel lucky that it isn't? It's actually an engraved plate from a 17th century Italian anatomy text. Apparently Italian doctors believed that anyone who wanted to learn what the inside of a baby dick looked like needed to have their soul scarred in the process. It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that these babies are clearly alive and, in the case of the one below, casually tearing themselves open.
Anatomy books today lack that theatrical flair.
This is what happens when you commission the illustrations for your anatomy book from a psychopath and are too cheap to have them redrawn. As a result, Italian med students were presumably left under the impression that babies would disembowel themselves if left unattended.
Lord Voldemort's Drag Act
Even the mask is disgusted to be a part of this photo. This 1930 photo is entitled "Portrait of the Dancer," because nothing says dancing like rubbing a mask on your face while possibly groping yourself. Maybe the photographer mercifully managed to forget what exactly was going on in the picture before choosing a name. "Why did I mark this 'never look at this again'? Eh, probably some jackass dancing."
Which One's the Puppeteer?
"Wanna know how I got these scars?"
This 1870 photo proves that ventriloquists were once somehow even creepier than they are today, a feat we previously thought impossible. Young Stalin there couldn't give less of a fuck that his doll looks like he's sizing up which audience member to murder first.
But, you know, it's not like ventriloquists intentionally make their puppets creepy. There's simply no way to give movable eyes to a doll and have it look normal. So what if we-
The only reason his butcher apron is clean is that he first drinks the blood of his victims.
NOPE, we take that back. The fact that this one appears to be standing on its own is the least creepy thing about it. Not even the puppeteer's flawless mustache can justify the existence of this photo. Come on, there has to be one old doll that looks normal. Right?
There's a 0 percent chance that anything but a knife was in that puppet's other hand.
Dear God, Stevil is back.
"You don't wanna know how this happened."
The Star of the World's First Minstrel Show/Horror Movie Crossover
Nightmare creatures don't shave often.
This is a 1904 portrait of a Navajo dressed as the deity Nayenezgani, the god of sadness and nightmare fuel, we're assuming. Presumably this was part of a revenge plot -- white people took aboriginal land, so the natives took away their ability to sleep. In some photos, it looks like a person is having his face swallowed by a randomly appearing black hole.
The Golliwog's all grown up, and he is not amused.
She Brings New Meaning to the Term "Bag Lady"
"Jameson's Garbage Bags: For the serial killer who likes to maintain eye contact until the end."
This lady looks like she's stuck in the 18th century equivalent of a Saw trap, or like she's already dead and dismembered and ready to be thrown into the river -- look at the cold, dead stare in her eyes. Also, judging by the shape of the bag, it looks like her killer took the opportunity to throw out some pizza leftovers, too.
However, this is actually driving headwear from 1906 France. Since cars were open back then, driving could be messy. Still, what the hell was she driving through -- mustard gas? As for the odd shape of the bag, that's because it also had to accommodate her French lady hat inside, obviously.
If a woman wasn't wearing a fancy hat in 1906 France, she was stoned to death on the spot.
And the best part was that once her limited visibility caused a traffic accident, they didn't even have to move her to a body bag.
He's Either Going to Murder You or Give You an Amazing High-Five
"But officer, he was already dismembered when I found him!"
This is what the soul of a rapist looks like. Look at the sunken eyes, the giant gropy hands, the unmistakable blowjob face, that haunting mustache. Jesus, he's even wearing a terrible scarf. It's that, or Chewbacca's molesty uncle. Either way, don't let it get close.
"You're my favorite nephew, Chewie. Let's shower together."
The person inside that monstrosity is a Koskimo native -- the costume is part of a ceremony, and the creature depicted is a Hami, which literally translates to "dangerous thing." Yeah, if one of those were lumbering in our direction, threatening to kill and/or blow us, we wouldn't pause to think up a good name either.
He Had the Worst Babysitter in History
This is what Hitler's stork delivery must have looked like.
Damn, being a kid back in the day sucked. This is staged, obviously, but the look of terror on the baby's face -- that's not something you can fake with trick photography. So he wasn't stolen by a large bird, but we're not sure how "irreparably traumatized by a film crew" is any better.
This is a still from Rescued from an Eagle's Nest, a 1908 short film best known for starring future director and racist D.W. Griffith as "Lumberjack who neglects bird-snatched baby." However, given the lack of special effects in those days, it wouldn't surprise us if the director just left a baby near some eagles, grabbed his camera and a bottle of moonshine, and waited.
We Had No Idea David Blaine Was Around in the 1930s ...
That's a medium from the 1930s by the name of Colin Evans who's in the middle of either a seance or a very elaborate seminar on autoerotic asphyxiation. The photo was published in the Daily Mirror in 1938, and it's still making the rounds today as evidence that human levitation is possible, because how else do you explain this freaky shit?
It's hard for a psychic to look dignified when his "I'm levitating" face is also his "I'm pooping" face.
Other than "He jumped off a chair," of course, which is exactly what he did.
The trick is to sit on a very sharp nail.
Evans claimed that he could only levitate in total darkness, mainly so that no one would see him get on the chair, jump off and trigger the camera's flash with the string you can see in his left hand. Before you make fun of how gullible people from the '30s were for falling for this silly bullshit, consider the fact that Criss Angel probably owns a yacht.
The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse
We didn't know they had jousting matches in hell.
This guy is about to either fight some zombies or explore an irradiated wasteland, and somehow, you get the feeling that there isn't a human face under that mask. If that is a mask.
He's actually a German soldier in World War I, back when the transition from horse to tank still wasn't fully complete. However, while we have to question the effectiveness of using a lance to take on machine guns, the psychological effect of charging the enemy with a sharp stick in a gas mask from atop a black steed can't be underestimated.
And You Thought Going to Disney Now Was a Nightmare
It takes the shape of whatever your children love the most, and makes you watch as it devours them.
These are real Disneyland costumes from back when they spent less money on making the characters look accurate and more on porn dungeons. Mickey here looks like big chunks of flesh have been ripped off his face, presumably after catching Pluto on a bad day, and Minnie's tragic expression indicates that the domestic situation at the Mouse household wasn't all that great back then.
Is that a cigarette burn on her face? Mickey, you bastard.
House of Wax Was a True Story
It turns out that melted wax figures look almost as disturbing as melted people. This photo shows the aftermath of a fire in Madame Tussaud's London museum in 1930, which had to be before they stopped granting sentience to each mannequin, because these wax figures are clearly suffering. The men are in various stages of mourning the loss of their hands ...
Denial, acceptance and "AAAAHHH, WHAT THE FUCK?!"
The woman on the left is still reliving the moment that the flames went up ...
... and the woman sitting down has seen things, man.
That, or she's about to puke up a fifth of SoCo.
Then there's the decapitated body about to poop on his own head, plus his friend's. Tragic. Just tragic.
"Awww, come on."
All That's Missing Is the Tentacle Rape
No, that's not Krang from the Ninja Turtles -- that's what passed for an anatomy lesson in old-timey Japan.
Even in the old days, Japan was weirder than the West. They took one look at those dissected babies we showed you earlier and said, "Eh, we could make the study of anatomy way more disgusting than that." These drawings were directly copied from the corpses of the decapitated criminals that Japanese medics would perform anatomy studies on. This might explain why the artists decided to capture the agonizing pain of their deaths in morbid detail. Sometimes it's like the look of shock on their faces from those moments before the decapitation still persists.
"Heeey, what's that katana for?"
And other times, it's like they find the whole situation terribly droll.
"Oh man, I have such a headache."
You can read more from Mark at Zug and McSweeney's Internet Tendency. Or check out his personal website.
For more reasons to nuke the past, check out 7 Terrifying Prehistoric Creatures (That Are Still Around) and 15 Old Photographs That Prove the World Used to Be Insane.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out Last House on the Right: When Horror Movies Get Real
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