For over a century, New Orleans has celebrated its annual festival, Mardi Gras. Marking the final day before the forty-day Christian fasting season of Lent, over the years, thousands of men, women and children have descended on the Southern town, bringing with them a whirlwind of unalloyed fun, costumed shenanigans and unrivalled debauchery in preparation.
Today, the happy spirit of the carnival lives on but alongside this, there has always been a disconcertingly sinister undertone to the festival. Whether it be because of the terrifying animal costumes, the clown face-paint, the deformed figures or the expressionless masks that de-humanize the party-goers, at the heart of the festival, there has always been something that has made me feel uneasy.
And my assumptions have been right since I discovered a selection of vintage photographs that expose the creepiness behind the facade of merriment. Take a look at the following images, taken over the decades, and see what I mean for yourself:
1. The smiling gentleman may look friendly, but do you know what lies beneath?
As far as we know, that welcoming grin may be hiding a serial killer.
2. The clown with the huge head
There's something about celebrating deformities that is just wrong.
3. The devil on the beach
Is this a sexy, or a scary, take on Mardi Gras?
4. The white faced demons are coming to get you
The people in the background aren't running for their lives because they can't see what we can see. Yet.
5. The skeleton neighborhood
The skeleton children at the front are particularly disconcerting.
6. The man with the dog head
There's something about animal heads on human bodies that is the stuff of nightmares.
7. The mask that looks into the depths of your soul
The dark abyss behind those black eyes is enough to terrify anyone.
8. The Clown family
This family of clowns look so happy, but are they hiding a deep, dark secret?
Relive your worst clown nightmare with the trailer for It:
9. Your worst nightmare
If this girl in white does not creep you out, check out the man dressed all in black in the background. I'm going to having nightmare tonight.
10. Creepy pirate
If not for the face, this man would look quite normal.
11. Even clowns reach their limit sometimes
This particular one has clearly had too much to drink.
Perhaps I have maskaphobia, but does anyone else find these images absolutely terrifying? I love Mardi Gras but after seeing these, I'm going to think twice about joining the party...
Do masks freak you out?