This photo was taken at New York’s Coney Island and is of a supposedly headless woman. The people who ran the attraction claimed that she had lost her head but was kept alive by feeding tubes and various apparatuses. Onlookers were horrified to see her moving around, but we can look at this sideshow today and know that some pretty cheap special effects were going on. The headless woman may have just been a mannequin hooked up to the device shown in place of her head, which allowed the body to move around as if it was alive.
Paris has long been known for its attractions that bring people from all over the world to its streets. Visitors enjoy museums and more, let’s say, cultured attractions by day and then can feast on the city’s nightlife. This picture is from a rather macabre nightclub in Paris known as the Cabaret de L’enfer, translated as the Club of the Inferno. The walls were supposedly smoking hot, and a person dressed up as Satan would torment visitors. The people in this photograph do not seem too concerned about dining in hell, though; they actually seem to be in relatively good spirits (literally).
If you have seen Star Wars, the original trilogy, then you are undoubtedly familiar with the man-like beast known as Chewbacca. This haunting historical image might look like a photo of him as a child, and as you can see, he was pretty distinguished from a very young age. Actually, this photograph is of a boy who suffered from Ambras Syndrome. Ambras syndrome occurs when an error in someone’s genome causes the gene that causes hair to grow to repeat itself repeatedly, like someone is constantly hitting copy and paste on the DNA.
Society has long had unattainable standards of beauty, and both men and women have gone to horrifying lengths to make them a reality. Harvey Glatman was known as the “Glamor Girl Slayer” because he would dress up his victims, bind them with ropes, and then take pictures of them before murdering them. Before taking her life, this photo is the last known picture of one of his victims, Judy Dill. He was arrested in 1958 while attempting to take his fourth victim- and met his end in a gas chamber.
13. This Gothic Paradise Is a Reminder of Human Mortality
This underground crypt, the Museum and Crypt of the Capuchin Friars, is located in Rome. It contains several different chapels decorated with human skulls and bones in twisting, Baroque patterns. There are even chandeliers made of human bones. Yet the site is not meant to terrify, though it certainly is terrifying. The intention is to remind visitors of human mortality, and it certainly does so. If you decide to visit, make sure that you only get souvenirs from the gift shop and don’t actually bring human remains home with you. The nightmares that come after visiting are complementary.
12. Australian Aborigines Were Treated Like Animals
Aborigines are the original inhabitants of Australia, and they were in the land for tens of thousands of years before white settlers arrived a few hundred years ago. White people mistreated them, and an urban legend claimed that until 1967, they were legally considered animals. The legend is a complete, well, legend, but people still treated them like animals, as this photograph shows. They were often sent to re-education centers or enslaved. Today, there are very few remaining Aborigines, and they still fight for their civil rights.
11. The Poor Campers Snapped a Picture Before Their Haunting Fate
In 1959, a group of polytechnic students in Russia went off on a trip and stopped for the night in a particularly treacherous area. The students’ families realized that something was wrong when they did not make contact as intended. So, they sent out a rescue team to try to find them. This photo is of the rescue team uncovering the students’ tent, which they abandoned. Two bodies were a mile away, but there was no indication of what actually happened to the students. Their fate became one of the greatest mysteries of the twentieth century.
People love to read stories about children who survived the Holocaust, but the reality is that the mental anguish they suffered robbed many of them of the rest of their lives. They rescued this child from a concentration camp and asked her to draw a picture of home. She just drew spiral after spiral until the photographer realized that this was home in her brutalized mind. As a teenager, she was admitted to an insane asylum because she became so violent that no one could care for her. She tragically died from choking on a piece of sausage that she stole from another patient.
9. These Men Were Proud of all the Buffalo Killed by Settlers
Manifest Destiny, America’s heroic claiming of the land all the way to the Pacific Ocean, led to more than a near-total genocide of the Native American population. The buffalo population in America was once well into the millions and the white settlers who pushed westward made short work of them by killing them and leaving them to rot in the wild. By 1900, there were only 325 buffaloes left in the wild. As you can see in this picture, there was an absolutely devastating number of buffalo killed. The two men in this picture are posing by the mountain of buffalo skulls. They are proud of the atrocity wrought on these creatures by all appearances.
Circuses have a reputation nowadays for being inhumane, for making a spectacle out of people who do not fit in, and for using animals in ways that deprive them of their fundamental rights. However, they have also been notoriously unsafe, as epitomized by a fire at a Ringling Brothers Circus in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1944. This picture is of “Weary Willie,” a clown persona created by Emmett Kelly, who performed for a crowd of 6000 people when the circus tent caught on fire. He rushed to begin helping people escape and then helped put out the fire. Yet 168 people still lost their lives that day.
When the atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945, the explosion literally vaporized so many people within seconds that there is no accurate count of how many people perished. The blast’s radiation caused imprints on the surfaces where people were vaporized, leaving thousands upon thousands of “death shadows” on the city. This picture looks like something spilled on a porch. However, it is all that remains of someone vaporized by the explosion, and we have no idea who the person was.
6. This World War I Soldier Had a Haunting Form of PTSD
The original term for PTSD was “shell shock.” It referred to soldiers returning home after World War I who had severe mental distress due to their experiences in the trenches. The fighting was so brutal that it literally broke down the minds of the soldiers and altered them forever. While the soldier in this picture appears to be smiling, he was one of 80,000 British soldiers from World War I who developed PTSD because of atrocities that no human should ever experience. The unnatural look on his face leads one to easily believe that the man was not happy; instead, he suffered.
The “Lipstick Killer” was a woman named Frances Brown who, upon claiming her second victim, wrote this chilling message on the wall in lipstick. Detectives who found the victim’s body also found a bloody thumbprint on the doorknob, and the newspapers went to town on the message the perpetrator had left behind. Brown claimed one more person before being apprehended, a fate that she wanted if she really believed the writing on the wall. The assumption was that the guilty party was male, but it turns out the perpetrator was a 32-year-old woman.
Do you remember watching cartoons with a damsel in distress tied to the railroad tracks? In the comics, she was always there so that the hero could save the day. But this woman? We really don’t know why or when they took this picture or what it is even about. Perhaps the woman was just engaging in some good-natured horseplay in this historical photo. Alternatively, maybe someone had tied her to a tree with more sinister intentions and decided to take a macabre picture of her legitimately crying out for help. We certainly hope the reason is the former.
This picture is of Lord Combermere, allegedly taken four days after he passed from a blood clot. During his funeral service, which took place four miles away from his study, Sybell Corbet took this long-exposure photograph, which shows the ghost of Lord Combermere sitting in his chair. Is this another picture of a ghost caught on film? Not likely. We know that Victorians were the first to experiment with cameras. Plus, they were fascinated with ghosts and loved to tinker with photographs to make it appear that a spirit was present.
You may know that Chernobyl was the site of an epic nuclear disaster that was so severe that the rest of the world began to question the use of atomic energy seriously. This picture is of the “elephant’s foot” formed beneath the core that melted down in the nuclear plant. It is a mixture of sand, concrete, and sealing material that melts together with nuclear waste. Today, the elephant’s foot only radiates about 10 percent of the radiation emitted when the disaster first happened, but that is still enough to cause severe radiation poisoning.
1. This Haunting Guy Looks Like the Ultimate Slasher
This photo looks like it came straight out of a horror film, but it is from real life. Decades after Jack the Ripper terrorized London, Edward Paisnel dressed in a woman’s wig and mask and terrorized the inhabitants of England’s Island of Jersey. During the day, he helped his wife run an orphanage, but at night, he allegedly prayed to Satan and committed unspeakable acts. When they caught him, he was convicted of 13 crimes and received a prison sentence of 30 years. Imagine the horror his wife must have felt.