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Halloween Countdown, Day 2

Breaking news! The long-lost 1916 film starring William Gillette as Sherlock Holmes has been found and will be restored! Here's the full scoop. Now back to our previously scheduled Halloween countdown...

Is it me, or is there something particularly creepy about vintage photos of people of the past in Halloween costume?

I highly recommend the book Haunted Air: Anonymous Halloween Photos from c.1875-1955 by Ossian Brown, which collects some of the best of these disturbing-yet-compelling pictures. (As I recall, this work first appeared on my radar thanks to suggestions from some of you! So thank you!) You can see a gallery of photos and quotes from the book here at BoingBoing.


"All the clocks had stopped. A void out of time. And here they are - looking out and holding themselves still - holding still at that point where two worlds join - the familiar - and the other."
— David Lynch, Introduction, Haunted Air


"These are pictures of the dead: family portraits, mementoes of the treasured, the held-dear-in-heart, now unrecognisable, other."
— Geoff Cox, Afterword, Haunted Air



( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 2nd, 2014 11:34 am (UTC)
Those costumes are much creepier than today's slick ones. My favorite is a witch I once knew whose make-up was a sight to behold :)

Edited at 2014-10-02 11:35 am (UTC)
Oct. 2nd, 2014 02:58 pm (UTC)
I'm glad to hear that you find them creepy, too!

My favorite is a witch I once knew whose make-up was a sight to behold :)

I'm sure I have no idea what you're talking about. No, none at all. *makes shifty eyes and stifles a cackle*

By the way, have I recommended Oculus to you? It's a new horror movie, and we really liked it. It's available streaming, and it stars Katee Sakhoff from Longmire.

Edited at 2014-10-02 02:59 pm (UTC)
Oct. 2nd, 2014 07:26 pm (UTC)
Oculus? How about a post on this? More details, please!
Oct. 3rd, 2014 12:15 pm (UTC)
Will do! I'm working on my film rec post for the countdown now, and Oculus will be front and center!

Edited at 2014-10-03 12:15 pm (UTC)
Oct. 11th, 2014 01:02 pm (UTC)
The film post is up now here!
Oct. 2nd, 2014 01:18 pm (UTC)

Nope, it's not just you at all. There is something extra creepy about older photos with folk in Halloween costume.
Oct. 2nd, 2014 02:59 pm (UTC)
I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks this!

*shivers with you*

Edited at 2014-10-02 03:02 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 2nd, 2014 03:03 pm (UTC)
ACK!!!!!!!!! *runs away flailing arms*

Well played, you. Well played.

Edited at 2014-10-02 03:03 pm (UTC)
Abbie Culbertson
Oct. 2nd, 2014 04:20 pm (UTC)
Oh my... what a find! These are delightful. I wish more kids these days would wear homemade costumes instead of all dressing in the same commercial ones.
Oct. 3rd, 2014 12:34 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed these, too! I agree with you 100%.

Edited at 2014-10-03 12:34 pm (UTC)
Oct. 2nd, 2014 04:23 pm (UTC)
Oh, they are most definitely creepier than today's costumes. Heck, even my costumes (in the 70's) were creepier. And when the photos are in black and white.... All the more!
Oct. 3rd, 2014 12:35 pm (UTC)
Yes! Mine, too! You make a good point about the black-and-white nature of the photos, as well. You're right: that adds to the creep factor!

Edited at 2014-10-03 12:35 pm (UTC)
Oct. 2nd, 2014 11:49 pm (UTC)
Wonder how many of those photos have appeared in one of the Unphotoshopped Old Timey Photos columns at Cracked.

Another Kickstarter worth supporting is Kronocalypse. It's a time-travel mash-up RPG setting where cavemen, wizards, sky pirates, and cyborgs unite to save time itself. It's less than twenty-four hours until it ends and still has a few hundred bucks to go.

Oct. 3rd, 2014 08:48 pm (UTC)
Good point!

Thanks so much for sharing the news on Kronocalypse, too. I'm glad to see it made its goal!

Edited at 2014-10-03 08:48 pm (UTC)
Oct. 3rd, 2014 10:17 am (UTC)
I only recently finished watching Sherlock, which has been my first introduction to Sherlock Holmes, but I might start watching the movies. Nice to know there will soon be another one!

Edited at 2014-10-03 10:18 am (UTC)
Oct. 3rd, 2014 11:44 am (UTC)
Be careful which ones you select. All too often, Watson gets portrayed as a buffoon who probably mail ordered his medical degree from a diploma mill. The origin of this unfortunate portrayal can be traced to Nigel Bruce in the adaptations starring Basil Rathbone. Bruce was primarily a comic actor, and this came through to the character's detriment. Of course, there's also the fact that mystery fiction is replete with moronic sidekicks to serve as the instigator of cabbagehead exposition.

Personally, I would recommend the TV series with Jeremy Brett as Holmes. With the exception of the episodes written by T.R. Bowen, they are among the most faithful adaptations.
Oct. 3rd, 2014 04:44 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I may look into that series. Having seen Martin Freeman's wonderful depiction, it would be hard to accept anything less.

Edited at 2014-10-03 04:45 pm (UTC)
Oct. 3rd, 2014 08:52 pm (UTC)
Sherlock is a fantastic introduction to the Holmesian 'verse, as it's much closer to Arthur Conan Doyle's writings than many other adaptations, including those set in the Victorian era. If you read the ACD stories - and I hope you will! - the more you read, the more you'll see how much Sherlock draws from the original canon. Even the asides and jokes are from the original texts or playing off them.

I'm super excited about this lost film being found, because William Gillette was the actor best known for playing Sherlock while Arthur Conan Doyle was still alive (and, in fact, they corresponded). His performance helped shape public perceptions of the character for all time. It's a bit of history I can't wait to see. :)

BTW, the Holmesian film that most influenced the creators of Sherlock is The Secret Life of Sherlock Holmes, which is well worth watching.

Edited at 2014-10-03 08:53 pm (UTC)
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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