The Picture Show
9:54 am
Thu October 27, 2011

Vintage Halloween Photos Creepy Enough For David Lynch

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 10:18 am

A delightfully dreadful little book recently found its way to my desk. Its black cover is adorned only by a photo of a skeleton and a plain gray title, Haunted Air.

The inside offers little context for dozens of anonymous, vintage Halloween photos, dating between 1875 and 1955. The photos in Haunted Air, released in the U.S. this month, come from the personal collection of Ossian Brown, a British musician and artist. And I was both surprised and not surprised to discover that David Lynch wrote the book's introduction. Random, but completely appropriate.

Beyond that, there's not much more to say. Though I do wonder: What is it that makes these photos so creepy? In some cases, it's the memory of America's nightmarish racism apparent in the costumes. In other cases, maybe it's just the primitive, handmade quality of the masks, or the medium of crusty black-and-white photography.

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