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Creepy Historical Photos That Will Haunt Your Nightmares

1. The Collector

Just imagine the home tour: “This is the living room, and down the hall is the kitchen. Oh, and this is my wall of severed heads.” The good news: British Army officer and artist Horatio Gordon Robley had nothing to do with the severing of the heads captured in this 1895 shot. He was a collector of the macabre, though, and that included this assortment of preserved craniums of New Zealand’s Maori people.


2. Way Too Life-Like

This isn’t a scene from a zombie movie. As frighteningly real as these figures look, they’re actually just melted mannequins that were damaged during a 1925 fire at Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum in London. Witnesses said they could hear the mannequins sizzling.


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3. Man’s Usefulness Ends Not In Death

This is a hell of a class photo. Shot in 1901, this image of an anatomy class depicts students casually posing with a cadaver … with a fitting quote inscribed across the bottom.


4. Time for a Trim

This chilling photo isn’t of a werewolf caught on camera. It’s actually a shot of a patient suffering from polytrichia, or excessive hairiness.

5. Smile – or Else

French neurologist Guillaume Duchenne de Boulogne broke new ground in the science of electrophysiology—and he did so through practice, practice, practice. In this wince-inducing photo, the good doctor conducts facial experiments on a live patient, triggering forced expressions with electrical shock. That is one contorted face we won’t soon forget.

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6. Demonic Dummy

While all ventriloquist dummies are unsettling, this one from the 1800s is particularly creepy. Is it us, or does that dummy’s face look like it was stitched together from actual human skin? We don’t even want to think about it “talking.”


7. Disturbing Treatment

In what looks like a scene out of The Blair Witch Project, this 1890 photo depicts a woman forced into a crucifixion pose and facing a wall. The woman is actually a patient at a mental institution, undergoing treatment for her condition. Believe it or not, forced standing was considered a legitimate part of treatment for mental illness in 19th century Germany.

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8. House of Meat

In theory, a house made of meat is a dream come true—especially when we’re craving bacon for breakfast. In practice, it looks like this nightmare. Taken in 1937, this photo depicts an English butcher’s delicious idea for attracting new customers: fresh meat hung from his shop exterior in the midday sun. It’s enough to have us considering vegetarianism.


9. Android Operation?

Look closely—you’re not seeing a dissection of some terrifying robot/human-hybrid. It’s actually a 1964 photo of two engineers fixing a Disney caveman robot.

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10. Shell Shocked

This soldier may be smiling, but it’s clear his mind is far from untroubled. The man in this war photo from 1916 is experiencing shell shock, an expression coined by soldiers to describe the hysterical paralysis, confusion, and dazed stares often seen on the battlefields of WWI.

Pinched from The Line Up


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Written By

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation.

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