Totally Terrifying Photos of 1960s Halloween Costumes

editorial feature

By Google Arts & Culture

Words by Leonie Shinn-Morris

By George SilkLIFE Photo Collection

Frightfully odd experiments in photography from George Silk

"Lock your doors, stuff the keyholes, don't even let a wisp of wind under the doorsill. On Halloween a ghost can come in on a draft, a witch can seep through a cranny as easily as her cackle can... Listen! Was that a knocking? Only a trickster, you say, wrapped up in a shroud and bent on a treat. Or masked imposters caught by a camera with a crooked lens. Open the door and see for yourself what might await you on Halloween."LIFE Magazine, October 31, 1960

These were the words that accompanied George Silk's Halloween-themed photo series for LIFE magazine in 1960. Silk made the images using an adapted version of the camera design used to capture photo-finishes at athletic races.

By George SilkLIFE Photo Collection

Halloween History (1960) by George SilkLIFE Photo Collection

Silk was at home, experimenting with his new camera design, when his children came into the room dressed up and "masquerading". He was struck by an out-there subject for his new machine. Rallying together his children and friends, Silk conjured up a twisted, surreal Halloween world, populated by his "gaudy gallery of characters who ride the night wind, clank skeleton shins and make a trick picture treat", as LIFE magazine puts it.

Halloween History (1960) by George SilkLIFE Photo Collection

By George SilkLIFE Photo Collection

Halloween History by George SilkLIFE Photo Collection

Halloween History (1960) by George SilkLIFE Photo Collection

Halloween History (1960) by George SilkLIFE Photo Collection

They write, "it's funny and it won't scare the kids".

The jury's out on that one...

Halloween History (1960) by George SilkLIFE Photo Collection

Halloween History by George SilkLIFE Photo Collection

Halloween History by George SilkLIFE Photo Collection

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