Family photos are creepy enough as it is.
It’s weird enough to cram everyone from your punk cousin to your creepy uncle to your racist grandfather into one place and force them to look as normal as possible as they smile through gritted teeth. Then there are the smaller snapshots - maybe it’s a picture of you and your kid brother minutes after you finished trying to tear each other to pieces. Or maybe it’s just mommy and daddy and the newborn baby all dressed up as Winnie the Pooh characters. There are tons of family photos out there which are embarrassing or just plain weird.
But what if that baby is a demon hellchild? What if that racist grandfather is already dead? What if that snapshot is taken minutes before you’re about to get mauled by the angry wild animal lurking in the background? That’s when your average awkward family shot turns into something that will make you tingle all the way down to the tips of your toes.
Some of these pics have an interesting backstory to them, but many are unexplained – weird, creepy relics that have made their way through the ages, all to wind up on our computer screens. Some are funny once you get past the initial weirdness, while others are more macabre. Some appear to be ordinary family snapshots with a strange twist, while others are bizarre captures of families in action. Some are made even creepier by the very fact that no-one knows where they came from. So, without further ado, here are 15 of the creepiest family photos to internet has to offer…
15 Knife-Wielding Child
While this is almost a normal photo of Mom and the kids, it’s made terrifying by the fact that we apparently have a serial killer in this family. Although we’d like to assume this is a plastic knife and someone’s idea of a joke, the expression on this kid’s face is truly terrifying. The squinty eyes, the glee with which he grasps the weapon…
While for now he might make for a cutesy photo-bomber, we wouldn’t be surprised if robbing liquor stores was somewhere in his future. I mean, is this kid mugging for the camera, or is he really just a psychopath?
The creepiest thing about this photo is that as young as this child is, we have no idea where his life is going. Just look at him. Do you want to mess with an adult who can make that face?
At the time this might have seemed like a funny one to put on the mantle, but we can’t help but wonder if these parents will be looking back in twenty years and saying, “If only we could have known our sweet little Johnny was going to turn out like that…”
14 Bear Stalks Hunters
We’re not sure if these hunters are related, but judging by the fact that the guy on the right looks about thirty years older than the guy on the left, we’re just going to go ahead and call this father-son bonding. Nothing wrong with heading out into the woods and murdering a member of an endangered species to build a little familial intimacy, am I right?
These guys are so proud of their kill that they seem oblivious to the fact that they are still out in the wild, late at night, and that the cub they killed probably has a family. Meanwhile, Mom hangs out in the background of this picture, pawing at the ground and waiting for her moment to strike.
What’s creepy about this picture is the fact that we don’t know what happens next. Does mama bear skulk away, afraid of the humans? Or is she preparing for action, and about to take revenge on these sportsmen for killing her kin? We may never know…
13 Alice In The Family
Alice Doherty was a girl born in 1887 with a rare genetic condition called hypertrichosis lanuginose which caused her to grow hair on her face. While at first glance, this may look like a family that dressed the dog up in human clothes for a photo opportunity, this is actually just a photo of Alice’s family with her condition on full display.
At the turn of the 20th century, sideshows were a popular attraction and Doherty’s bizarre condition made her a natural fit for freak shows, much like the similarly disfigured Elephant Man (John Merrick) or Giant of Illiinois (Robert Wadlow). Alice toured America for a few years, making money at fairs and other sideshow events, before retiring and dying at just 46 years of age.
What’s most uncanny about this photo is just how ordinary it seems. Everything else about the picture makes the family look like your typical turn-of-the-century midwestern family, but then you’ve got Alice right there in the middle turning the whole picture into the stuff of nightmares.
12 Memento Mori - Little Girl
Ah, the old Victorian death portrait, aka memento mori, where a family would hire a photographer for the funeral of a loved one and have them take photographs of the deceased where they would make the dead look as alive as possible.
Here we have a couple of sisters cuddling up on the couch. Unfortunately, only one of those sisters is still breathing. They’re wearing matching outfits and look like a couple of kids just hanging out, but the girl on the left has closed eyes and her arms awkwardly crossed in a way that suggests that someone arranged them like that just for the purpose of the photo. It’s sad how young this child looks. Who knows what she died from?
The person I feel the worst for, though, is the poor sister who has to snuggle up next to a corpse. You can bet that she knows her sister’s dead and has no interest in being inches away from her lifeless body, but she’s too young to argue with the photographer when he tells her to, and clearly had to succumb to the morbid request – all in the name of a photo which really isn’t all that convincing. Eerie stuff.
11 Bomb Background
It’s just an ordinary family snapshot until someone drops a bomb, right? This horrifyingly casual shot of a couple of kids by the side of the highway appears to capture a real nuclear explosion in the background. The scary thing is that it doesn’t seem all that far away – a couple of miles across the desert, at most. I hope that as soon as the photographer noticed what was happening in the background, he knew well enough to put down the camera, jump in the car, and drive as many thousands of miles away as the engine could bear.
This picture raises all kinds of questions. Like, how did this family manage to vacation so close to a nuclear test site? And we have to wonder about the future health of those kids after being exposed to that kind of nuclear radiation.
While some on the internet think this shot may be photoshopped, just the notion that it could be real is enough to send you running for your life…
10 Cannon Fodder
What’s to see here? It’s just another photo of a mom and her daughter on vacation while the family in the background stuffs their baby into a cannon.
The person who posted this photo on the internet claims that she had no idea what was happening in the background at the time, and that only later upon looking at the photo did she realize the other family was playing this goofy prank. If this coincidence truly was accidental, the timing is incredible – that the pose for this snapshot would come the very second that someone else jammed a baby into a cannon.
The second family is more interesting one, though. While this is obviously someone’s idea of a joke, that doesn’t make it any less creepy. What kind of sick parent makes a dead baby joke about turning their child into a projectile missile? I guess they needed something to fill that cannon with…
9 "The Ring" Sisters
This totally unexplained photograph speaks for itself. Was this the picture that inspired The Ring? The hair covering the faces is reminiscent of that terrifying flick and I know I’d be afraid to pop in a videotape that featured these three.
Accompanied on the internet only by a nonsensical spiel in Arabic about sisters, we’re left to wonder why and when this picture was taken. Did the girls hide their faces out of shame or was it a gag just to take a creepy photograph? Is this a real photo or something staged for a poster? The girl in the back seems to have some creepy undead eyes leering through her bangs. But even if this is a staged photo, it’s not clear why, only that it could make for a horrifying album cover or movie poster.
8 Demon Child At Toast
This seems like an ordinary family doing a casual toast at tea – until you notice the undead child at the far left-hand side, leering at the camera as if he has just appeared from another dimension to transform this picture from the mundane into the terrifying. The only indication that he is of this earthly planet at all is the hand of the smiling woman behind him (his mother, maybe?) on his shoulder.
Not only is this kid not demonstrating table manners and the only person in the whole picture oriented towards the camera, his eyes are rolled back in his head like a deranged zombie. Maybe the kid resents his family for forcing him to come to tea and the only way he can think of to get back at them is by giving the camera his most “psychiatric patient” mugshot. Or maybe he’s a future psychopath and this momentary capture is only an early warning sign.
While some might say he ruined the family photo, family photos are all about memories, right? I’d say this terrifying expression is burned into my brain in a way I won’t soon forget.
7 Choking Mom
Oh boy. This family sure seems like a riot on Christmas Eve, don’t they? First, you have the portly pops who seems to be staring at the camera with a mix of pride and fear – “this is my family, just don’t get too close to them.” Then you've got the adult son smiling at the camera with the expression of a perfect schoolboy who’s gone slightly insane. His sister glares bitterly at her mother, as if disappointed that she can’t stand up for herself (literally – is it an accident that she’s the only one seated in the photo?) and has failed her as a role model. And then we’ve got Mom, who seems a little batty but happy as a clam to be strangled out by her son, all in the name of making a memorable family photo.
And why are his hands clasped around her neck like that? If the mother isn’t sick or totally insane, then it seems like the photographer might have tapped into some very complex family dynamics with this shot. The whole image captures a violent night at this dysfunctional family’s household. Kids want to go out, Mom tells them no, son holds down Mom and strangles her while sister looks on bitterly wishing her Mom could fight back. Meanwhile, Dad just stands there morosely, wishing he could be anywhere but where he is right now.
6 Squished Baby Head
Back in Victorian times, snapshots weren’t a thing. If you wanted a picture, you had to sit and wait for the exposure to imprint itself onto the negative. And if there’s one thing that babies are totally incapable of, it’s sitting still for a long period of time. So Victorian mothers came up with a seemingly sensible yet utterly ridiculous solution – they would hide in plain sight in the photos, and hold their babies in place until the exposure was finished. While this seemed like a solid solution, it led to some pretty uncanny results.
In this particular image, the mother in the photo is anything but inconspicuous. You can’t see her face or necessarily tell that there is a human behind the veil – instead, it looks like a ghost in the fabric is rising up and crushing this baby’s head like some horrifying ghoul from Magic: The Gathering. I’m not sure if it looks like they’re trying to crush the life out of the young child or use it as human manna to summon some magical demon, but either way, this picture conjures all sorts of horrifying thoughts.
5 Crushed By The Family
So whose brilliant idea was this? We’re going to take a regular family photo of a white middle-class family, make sure everyone smiles and is framed properly – and oh yeah, we’re going to do it while sitting on poor Aunt Maggie. This looks painful...
Of course, upon closer inspection, it’s probably photoshopped, but it’s still utterly creepy. Even if it is shopped, someone still had to come up with this brilliant idea. And if it wasn’t her whole family crushing her under their weight, I want to know what it was that was making the girl on the couch make that contorted face. The whole effect is undeniably creepy.
Either way, real or fake, you have to give this photo points for originality. It’s ridiculous, it’s funny, it’s weird, but mostly it’s just…why? Why does this photo exist?
4 Ghost Child
This eerie photo floating around the internet is totally unexplained. It looks like a very sombre family posing for a photo with a ghost seated on the father’s lap. Adding to the eerie effect are the wild eyes of the sister on the right. She seems to be leering at the camera as if to say, “beware of the ghost of my kid sister…”
Rumoured to be from as early as 1850 – the early days of photography – the most likely explanation is that the little girl was alive and well but moved too much during the long exposition and was not fully captured by the film. This is such a cool photo, though – even if it was an accidental misfire, someone interested in artistically doctoring photos or creating weird photographs of their own could come up with all kinds of ideas about photography just from the eerie effect on display in this shot.
Regardless of the true nature of this picture, don’t stare at it too long right before you go to bed. Tell me, would you want to go over to this family’s house for Thanksgiving dinner? Something tells me it would be awfully…grave.
3 Waldo At The Wedding
Where’s Waldo? Oh, there he is – hanging out behind the tree, stalking the wedding party. Oh, that’s not weird at all.
I just want to know why this guy is Waldo. Is it Halloween? Is it an amusement park costume? Or did he just wake up on this morning and decide to wear a red-and-white striped shirt and a red hat? Dressing up as Waldo on a regular day is a little bit bizarre as it is, but to then show up at a wedding party and photobomb one of the pictures makes this guy seems extra looney. Waldo from the books is a goofy character, but to hide out in the real world is some next-level stuff. Waldos are somewhere between mimes and clowns on the “funny but creepy and should never be seen in real life” scale.
I also want to know if he knows the wedding party. If not, it’s just downright weird to be hiding out in the background of their photos.
2 Bear In The Window
“Smile! Look at the camera! No, not out the window, the camera’s over here!”
This seems like just your average vacation Polaroid – until you notice that there’s an angry bear in the background. Both the mom and the kid are oddly calm-looking in this photo. You’ve got to wonder whether that bear just appeared in the span of time it took them to shoot this photo, or if the driver of the vehicle (the kid’s dad, maybe?) saw the bear and said, “Let’s take a family photo!” That’s pretty ballsy – most people who notice an angry bear approaching their car would gas the accelerator and get the hell out of dodge – but because he stuck around to take this shot, we have this perfect moment captured in time. Perfect and terrifying – note the bared teeth on the beast as it stares directly at the camera.
Upon closer inspection, there does appear to be some kind of fence protecting the car from the animal, but I’m not sure that I trust that a patchwork of thin wires like that is going to restrain an agitated bear. Hopefully, this family eventually wised up and realized that there was somewhere else a lot safer to be. A few miles up the road, a few thousand miles away – anywhere but ten feet away from an angry grizzly in a dilapidated car that looks like a six-year-old could break into it.
1 Memento Mori - Mom
And here we have another death portrait. (To be honest we could have filled this whole list with death portraits if we wanted to. They’re all creepy.)
While this family portrait almost looks ordinary, it’s anything but. Here we have the Mom of the family centerstage but with eyes that tell you she’s anywhere but present. While her kids and husband stare in the general direction of the camera, Mom’s head lolls off to the side since she was clearly only propped up for this creepy memorandum.
What’s creepiest about this picture are the lifeless eyes. While in many memento mori, the photographer has gone to great lengths to make the honoured appear as alive as possible, it’s clear here that there’s no way to make the Mom any more life-like. She has departed this mortal coil, and as soon as this ill-advised picture is over and done with, her family can stop pretending otherwise.
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