Vintage Halloween: Costumes used to be creepy instead of sexy

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The photos above are certainly a fry cry from the plastic Batman masks and cat ears you normally see on Halloween. Ossian Brown’s book “Haunted Air” may have debuted two years ago, but the snapshots held within have a creepiness that has endured through the decades.

A collection of anonymous photographs of Halloween costumes taken between 1875 and 1955, the book chronicles an era of homespun costumes that, when combined with the worn texture of the archival photography, may send a shiver up your spine.

“I’m excited by pictures where I can see a natural mutation has occurred, not just in the condition of the photograph, with mold spots and tears creating new and unimagined landscapes, but also from the passing down and inheritance of a costume, perhaps over many years,” Brown wrote.


The photos also recount an era before our modern conceptualization of the holiday, back when trick-or-treating was known as “guising,” and large-scale costume manufactures, such as the now-defunct Ben Cooper Inc., had yet to dominate the market. And of course, none of the costumes present a “sexy” variation of an old standby.

Plus, the book hosts a forward by experimental filmmaker David Lynch, and that’s about the strongest endorsement for unsettling material anyone could ever ask for.

Twitter: @mlittledc