Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Vintage Halloween photos = See ya later, EVER SLEEPING AGAIN

My love of vintage candid and everyday life photographs has been pretty well established here by now. Part of it is that I really enjoy the glimpses into the lives of these people whose names I will ever know. Part of is that I pretty much nobody knows who most of these people were, save perhaps their name or their own blood relation to them. I like the idea that someone stumbles across an old keepsake chest or dusty box in an attic somewhere and discovers these windows into a perfect stranger's life.
I think that these people live on primarily through the viewing of these photographs. That despite not being a world leader or a millionaire or Matthew Brady, we get to look at these people more intimately than the celebrities of their era, since these images tend to capture so much more emotion than any portrait ever does.
Part of it might be that the era I tend to look at the most, from right around the invention of the camera up until the 30s, is such a different era than the one we live in. It's not just the "no TV or internet" crap, although that is a pretty large part of modern life. It's more the "no electric refrigeration" and "don't ask about the bathroom situation"-type stuff.
Part of it might be that that last, haunting scene from the Shining*, which remains one of my favorite scenes ever filmed.
Anyways, what I started this post intending to say is that the folks over at Wired have put up some vintage Halloween photos, which might well be the most terrifying images I have ever seen.
It's odd, because I'm sure these masks were about as scary as a Dora the Explora** mask would be to us. But that doesn't make it any less creepy. When I was a kid I found these clear plastic masks in my parents' loft. It's hard to describe them, but they were somewhat opaque and featureless other than light red lips and on the one a mustache (this, aptly enough, is the closest thing I could find). I guess they were leftover from a party or something, but they scared the living crap out of me***. These pictures have absolutely surpassed them as the creepiest masks of all time, as far as I'm concerned. It's pretty amazing, and I'd guess that the celebration of Halloween was stil fairly new to these people****, which makes it even crazier. Imagine just picking up a new holiday. And I don't mean your dumbass international talk-like-a-pirate day.
Anyway, go check these pictures out. They'll probably be the scariest thing you see this Halloween season.

(other than whatever lies ahead in this election season)

*Not of Nicholson frozen in the snow, which I think most people remember the ending to be, but of the photograph of Jack Torrance and everyone else trapped in the ethereal golden years of the Overlook Hotel. Despite that movie being a pretty piss-poor adaptation and having some serious plotting issues (I love that this scene was thrown into the movie with absolutely ZERO illumination of the awesome back story it depicts). I really shoulda just made this a different post. Maybe a live watching of the Shining. ugh.
**I know, I know. But it's supposed to rhyme, no?
*** Those masks remain my third greatest childhood fear, behind horseshoe crabs and the clown marionette that my parents brought back for me from Mexico
****There's great sites all over the place going into the origins, traditions, and histories of Halloween, but just to be easy go check out the wiki page. It's absolutely fascinating and will probably teach you a great deal. Go learning.


sarah said...

It's not often that I get to say this but pretty much any extremely old portraits of strangers scare me alittle.

Carrie said...

are the two children wearing death masks?