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25 Creepy Photos That Will Give You the Chills

Warning: These photos may cause nightmares

Mysterious Man Looking at House from Backyard at NightGlasshouse Images/Getty Images

These creepy photos are worth at least 25,000 chilling words

Nothing gets us into the Halloween spirit quite like creepy photos. While they can be eerie and scary, they’re also extremely fascinating. How did they come to be? What are their true origin stories? Are the depictions of Halloween monsters real? We’ve got some haunting photos that are sure to send chills down your back. Next, check out the best scary movies and scary stories to get you into a spooky mood.

Country homeAP/Shutterstock

A quiet country home?

What looks like a lovely country home in upstate New York is actually one of 42 buildings that made up the Trudeau Sanatorium for people with tuberculosis (before the advent of current antibiotic treatment). Located in the Adirondack Mountains, this was America’s first such sanatorium.

If you look carefully at the photo, taken in 1948, you can see a white-clad nurse ascending the front steps to care for her patients. Learn about urban legends from each state here.

Murder victim modelCEK/Shutterstock

Creating a model of a murder victim

Between 1972 and 1978, John Wayne Gacy murdered at least 33 men in Cook County, Illinois. In 1980, forensic artists were recruited to reconstruct the facial features of nine unidentified victims so that photos could be released by the media in an attempt to identify them. Gacy was known as the “Killer Clown.” If you like these creepy pictures, you’ll love these Halloween movies.

creepy clownMGM/Shutterstock

Creepy clown

This 1928 image of Lon Chaney as a super creepy clown (a still from the silent film Laugh, Clown, Laugh) may be another reason people are afraid of clowns. Feeling inspired? Here are some more scary Halloween costumes.

ghostly figuresKarl F. Schofmann/Shutterstock

Ghostly figures

The ghostly figures shown in this mural in the Karl-Lehr-Strasse tunnel in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, depict the 21 young people who died in a stampede in 2010 at Love Parade, a German music festival. At least 500 others were injured in the devastating tragedy. If these creepy photos aren’t scary enough for you, don’t miss these real exorcisms.

Highgate cemeteryJane Hobson/Shutterstock

Death’s relentless pursuit

Death is one of life’s realities, and yet the notion of death remains mysterious, if not terrifying. One reason may be the way burial grounds tend to become crowded, a constant reminder that death is always in pursuit. Such is the case with this eastern portion of North London’s Highgate Cemetery, resting place for close to 200,000 people since 1839, where the gravestones appear to be collapsing in on themselves.

Next, find out the oldest cemetery in every state.

Highgate angelRob Greig/Shutterstock

The sleeping dead

Another haunting image from London’s Highgate Cemetery is of this statue of a sleeping angel. The reposing figure was erected, no doubt, with the intention of bringing solace to mourners, yet it so vividly conjures the image of death that it may haunt you in your dreams. If you’re into that sort of thing, here are some of our favorite horror books.

church struck by lightningDeadline News/Shutterstock

Church spire struck by lightning

An ordinary church spire. An ordinary act of nature. Yet the image of the damage a bolt of lightning caused to a stone church spire in Denny, Scotland, feels more spooky than ordinary. For more creepy fun, check out these scary podcasts.

San Francisco EarthquakeUnderwood Archives/Shutterstock

San Francisco Earthquake

The Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 was another natural event that wrought devastating destruction to the lives and plans of the unsuspecting humans in its path. These Victorian homes on Howard Street near 17th Avenue were among the 28,000 homes destroyed in the disaster.

It’s estimated that approximately 3,000 lives were lost in total. Take a look at these other historical photos that bring the past to the present.

Burnt soccer ballThanassis Stavrakis/Shutterstock

The remains of a fire

As a result of a wildfire in Mati, Greece, in 2018, more than 100 people were either killed by the flames or drowned while trying to flee into the nearby sea, with another 250-plus people injured. Local fishermen and private boat owners were able to save many, but the sight of a burned soccer ball is a haunting reminder of the devastation left behind. Here are things firefighters wish everyone knew.

Janet Fay murder locationMatty Zimmerman/Shutterstock

A lonely crime scene

Between 1947 and 1949, a divorcée by the name of Martha Beck and her boyfriend, Raymond Fernandez, went on a killing spree, murdering as many as 20 women whom they’d met via newspaper personal ads.

After the so-called “Lonely Hearts Killers” were apprehended for the murder of Delphine Downing and her 2-year-old daughter, Rainelle, the investigation took police to this basement in Queens, New York, where the body of another victim, Janet Fay, was unearthed from beneath the floor. Next, here are the haunted house mysteries no one can explain.

Janet Fay murdererMurray Becker/Shutterstock

The doomed Lonely Hearts Killers

In this 1949 photo, convicted Lonely Hearts Killer Martha Beck meets with her attorney in an anteroom of the Bronx Supreme Court in New York. This was the same day Beck admitted to abandoning her two children to the Salvation Army a year prior so that she could be with Fernandez.

Beck and Fernandez were each convicted of capital murder and were put to death via electric chair in 1951. Find out more on the most notorious criminals in each state.

George Washington graveAP/Shutterstock

A different George Washington, a different fate

The George Washington whose gravestone is pictured here was not the first U.S. president, but the first prisoner executed via electric chair in Texas. On Feb. 8, 1924, Texas executed a total of five inmates using its brand-new electric chair, which remains a state record for the highest number of executions in a single day.

Karla TuckerClive Limpkin/Shutterstock

Deadly woman

This haunting image of convicted capital murderer Karla Faye Tucker illustrates why the public was divided over Texas’s decision to execute her on Feb. 3, 1998. After Tucker confessed to murdering two people during a robbery, she made a public conversion to Christianity and captivated many in the American public with her charm and her claims of having reformed. Her execution (via lethal injection) was the first of a woman in Texas since 1863.

Gallows in SpainMiguel Angel Molina/Shutterstock

A legacy of torture

Pictured at the Palacio de los Olvidados—Palace of the Forgotten—in Granada, Spain, these gallows were used to torture prisoners during the Spanish Inquisition. Here are some other historical facts you probably wish weren’t true.

Ghost shipMark Thiessen/Shutterstock

Tsunami ghost ship

Ghost ships are haunting by nature, particularly when no one can really say what happened to the disappeared crew. But this ghost ship is haunting for a different reason: It was inadvertently launched into the sea as a result of a tsunami off the coast of Japan in 2011 (along with about 5 million tons of debris).

Because it was a threat to maritime traffic and a potential threat to the environment, the U.S. Coast Guard sunk the ghost ship in 2012. Pictured here is the plume of smoke that remains. Creepy images aside, these mystery ghost ships defy explanation.

Pirate ship treasureSteven Senne/Shutterstock

Remains of a pirate shipwreck

Lots of creepy things can be found at the bottom of the ocean. This is one of them: a bell once belonging to a pirate ship (the “Whydah Gally”), discovered in the murky waters off Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Hedda NussbaumCharles Wenzelberg/Shutterstock

Hedda Nussbaum, New York City

Those who lived in New York City during the late 1980s will remember the tragic tale of Lisa Steinberg, the 6-year-old girl who was beaten to death in 1987 by her “adoptive” father, Joel Steinberg.

Steinberg’s then-companion, Hedda Nussbaum, is pictured here with 6-month-old Lisa shortly after the illegal adoption, and long before Nussbaum became a late 1980s face of domestic violence.

Romanov familySovfoto/Shutterstock

The doomed Romanov family

In the wee hours of July 17, 1918, Russia’s entire royal family, as well as several of their servants, was murdered, bringing a swift and violent end to a 300-year-old imperial dynasty. The family had been imprisoned by the Bolsheviks since February of 1917.

Prior to that, the patriarch of the family, Tsar Nicholas II, had made some ill-advised decisions, including leading the country into World War I in 1914, the same year this photo was taken. Don’t miss these urban legends that turned out to be true.

Karl WallendeGeoffrey White/Shutterstock

Karl Wallenda in a triumphant moment

Karl Wallenda, of the “Flying Wallenda” family of amazingly airborne circus performers, is pictured in a triumphant moment in 1978, just after he crossed the Tower Bridge in London by tightrope. Sadly, Karl died during a tightrope walk later that year in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at the age of 73.

space shuttle challengerSteve Helber/AP/Shutterstock

The Challenger explosion

On Jan. 28, 1986, during its 10th flight, the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart a mere 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven crew members, including a school teacher, Christa McAuliffe, who’d been selected from more than 11,000 applicants to participate in the NASA Teacher in Space Project.

Autopsy tableSimon Belcher/Shutterstock

Autopsy table

On this table, an autopsy has just been performed, and another one will soon begin. (An autopsy is a postmortem examination to discover the cause of one’s death.) It’s hard to imagine a colder, more clinical view of the end of life.

Armchair in a kindergarten in the Chernobyl zone. Prypiat, UkraineAnton Petrus/Getty Images

Chernobyl kindergarten

In case you need a refresher, in 1986 a routine safety test went horribly wrong at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, which was then part of the Soviet Union. One of the four nuclear reactors overheated and exploded, starting a fire and spewing radioactive material into the air, which remains in the area today to some degree.

Here, we can see an old armchair with a doll’s head sitting in what was once a kindergarten in the Chernobyl zone. You can see why it’s one of the most haunted places in the world.

Old wartime tunnel, St Aubin, JerseyDavid Clapp/Getty Images

Abandoned military tunnel

Located in St. Aubin, Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands just off the coast of France, this old wartime tunnel is creepy in a different way. It’s more about what we can’t actually see in the photo that’s so eerie.

Take a look at these haunting photos of abandoned car dealerships, too.

Double exposure of spooky girl against wall at homeCavan Images/Getty Images

Double exposure girl

Does this remind anyone else of Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 psychological horror, The Shining? When it comes to scary pictures, this one definitely makes the cut. However, it’s likely just a case of a film camera double exposure, causing the image of the little girl to appear twice. The old black-and-white aspect just makes it that much creepier.


Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York–based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest and in a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction, and her first full-length manuscript, "The Trust Game," was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.