Skip To Content
  • Viral badge
  • Halloween badge

23 Horrifying Old Photos That Will Keep You Awake At Night

Sleep tight! ;-)

Horatio Gordon Robley and his collection of severed heads, 1895.

Public Domain / Via Wellcome Library, London

During the 19th century, Horatio Gordon Robley was a renowned collector of the macabre and the obscure, specializing in collecting "Mokomokai" — otherwise known as the preserved heads of New Zealand's Maori people.

A patient undergoing treatment for mental illness in 19th-century Germany.

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

In this 1890 picture, a woman is shown standing in a narrow cell, her arms affixed to the wall in a crucifixion pose. Though seemingly inhumane, at the time it was seen as a reasonable treatment for those with mental illness in Germany.

This group of "witches" in 1875.

Public Domain

This tintype photograph shows a group of women posing with their broomsticks and owl.

These guys who "lost" their heads in 1875.

George Eastman House Collection
George Eastman House Collection

Long before Photoshop, early photographers tried their hand at "trick photography," fooling gullible onlookers into thinking that they've captured the impossible.

These med school students and their study subject in 1901.

Public Domain

There's no trick photography in this one. This 1901 picture shows a group of medical students posing with their class assignment.

Adr. Evtikhiev the "Wolfman," 19th century.

ihm.nlm.nih.gov / Via Flickr: nlmhmd

Taken sometime between 1834-1892, this picture shows doctor Nikolaĭ Porfirʹevich's patient Adr. Evtikhiev, suffering from hypertrichosis, a condition resulting in excessive hair growth.

A midnight haunting over a baby's crib, circa 1860.

London Stereoscopic Company / Getty Images

Lieutenant Herman with his ventriloquist dummy, circa 1870.

Public Domain / Via wanganuilibrary.recollect.co.nz

Six skeletons smoking around the dinner table, circa 1865.

London Stereoscopic Company / Getty Images

Just chillin'.

Ghosts captured on film, circa 1920.

National Media Museum

William Hope

National Media Museum

William Hope

This ghoulish encounter, circa 1863.

Eugene Thiebault / Via Public Domain

These Victorian women and their "guests," circa 1890s.

Public Domain
Public Domain

This playful clown from 1924.

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Actor Lon Chaney is shown dressed as a clown for his role in the film He Who Gets Slapped. He just wants to play!

This deathly serious ghost, circa 1905.

Historic Photo Archive / Getty Images

A visit from the Pumpkin King, circa 1865.

London Stereoscopic Company / Getty Images

Just a regular Halloween party, circa 1900.

From the book 'Haunted Air' / Via Random House UK

A man posing with his collection in 1850.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The faceless victim of an acid bath, circa 1905.

Hans Wild / The LIFE Picture Collection / Getty

This staged photo was taken during a play at the Grand Guignol theater, a French theater that existed from 1897 to 1962 and specialized in horror.

This little witch on her broomstick, circa 1865.

London Stereoscopic Company / Getty Images

And an 1865 haunting.

London Stereoscopic Company / Getty Images

Sleep tight! ;-)

CORRECTION

The Grand Guignol theater was located in France. An earlier version of this post misstated its location.

Nostalgia Trip

Take a trip down memory lane that’ll make you feel nostalgia AF

Newsletter signup form