Haunted Air: Anonymous Halloween photographs from c. 1875–1955Haunted Air: Anonymous Halloween photographs from c. 1875–1955 by Ossian Brown
My rating: 5/5 cats
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star


this book is the creepiest shit ever: wonderful and terrifying and absolutely essential if you want to have intensely vivid nightmares. it is KILLING ME!!!

every page of this book features a sepia-toned photograph of a child or adult dressed for halloween (one hopes) in a time before mass-produced plastic, or maybe these just come from some gated community of serial killers and this is how they celebrate the day – by FREAKING ME OUT!

every single picture gives me chills, and there are a TON of them in here. this is just a sampling.


the scariest thing in this one, to me, is that dog in the background.

i mean, this can’t be an accident, right?? these had to be taken to freak people out – this is UNNATURAL!

oh god don’t hold hands! that makes it scarier!

there are bodies buried in these basements for sure.

because it’s not like any horror movie has ever relied on a mask to make its villain more menacing, right?

and yet these are much scarier because they are less intentionally-unnerving. they project menace simply by standing still and existing. this book is my new favorite thing.

okay but the text? not great. there is an all-caps introduction of sorts by david lynch which is fantastic because a) the all-caps makes me imagine that it is david lynch channelling gordon cole:

and b) because it’s just a great example of lynch’s singular way of expressing himself. o, to be a fly on the wall watching him encounter these photographs.

but the rest of the text is not great. there’s an overwritten tone-piece by geoff cox, with snippets like

With the mocking hybrid phantoms that followed flight across sea and land, like Nosferatu’s rats; malign revenants nourished on the lore of the Old Country and leeching off the dark blood of the New, hissing guilt and loss as they come. Decaying hope.

and then a “historical note” about halloween. which, not helpful.

but there’s nothing written about the photographs themselves. i understand that these are the private collection of ossian brown, but how were they obtained? how does one even accrue such a collection of creepy, creepy, creepy photographs? how many serial killer dens must one raid in order to obtain so many?

in a way, i guess it’s better not to know because the answer is probably RIGHT BEHIND YOU!! the answer is COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!! the answer is HUMANS CAN LICK, TOO!!

okay, i am suitably creeped-out shivery for the day.

carry on!

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