55 Of History’s Creepiest Pictures — And Their Equally Disturbing Backstories

Published December 1, 2020
Updated March 9, 2024

From evil science experiments to serial killers to the paranormal, these creepy photos plumb the depths of human history's dark side.

Creepy Photo Of Genie Wiley
H G Robley With Mokomokai Heads
Anatoly Moskvin's Doll
Creepy Old Photo Of Blanche Monnier
55 Of History’s Creepiest Pictures — And Their Equally Disturbing Backstories
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The two essential elements of all creepy pictures from history are what is depicted in the image — and what is all too ominously left out. While some of the creepiest old photos ever taken reveal exactly why they're so disturbing as soon as you look at them, others truly become unsettling only once you learn the stories behind them.

In some cases, the story behind the photo calms the viewer's mind by making sense of the strange image before you. But most of the time, the story only adds new layers of terror that would have been unimaginable at the outset.

Whether it's kidnappings and murders or mad scientists and unexplained phenomena, the stories behind history's creepiest images run the gamut from the macabre to the unsettling to the just plain bizarre.

See some of these photos and learn their backstories in the gallery above, then read even more about the tales behind a few of these photos below.

Blanche Monnier And The True Story Behind One Of The Creepiest Photos Ever Taken

As the beloved daughter of a prominent French family in the 1870s, Blanche Monnier lived her early years as if she was in a fairy tale, replete with notions of true love and happily ever after.

Born on March 1, 1849, in Poitiers, Monnier thoroughly enjoyed the life of a young aristocrat and socialite. Unlike her peers, however, she remained unmarried well into her 20s. As she searched desperately to find a partner and move out of her mother's shadow, her dream suddenly seemed to come true.

In 1874, Monnier fell head over heels in love with an older lawyer and hoped to marry him. But her mother disapproved of him because he belonged to a lower class — and insisted that her daughter find someone more appropriate. However, Monnier refused.

In retaliation, her ruthless mother locked her in a small, pitch-black, windowless room in the attic. She was given only dinner scraps to eat and a straw mattress on which to sleep.

But despite such conditions, Monnier refused to give in to her mother and give up the man of her dreams, even though doing so would set her free. Tragically, her suitor died in 1885 while she was still imprisoned in the attic.

Creepy Picture Of Madame Louise Monnier De Marconnay

Public DomainMadame Louise Monnier de Marconnay imprisoned her daughter for 25 years.

Sixteen years after that, an anonymous note alerted local police that something strange was occurring at the Monnier residence. Although the public believed that Blanche Monnier was long dead, authorities soon searched the home and made a chilling discovery: she was very much alive.

The unbelievably creepy picture documenting the moment she was discovered (shown in the gallery above) reveals a terribly malnourished and abused middle-aged woman who hadn't seen the outside world in more than a quarter-century. Monnier was found covered in her own waste and surrounded by vermin picking at her food.

Both her mother and brother, who claimed his sister had brought this on herself, were sentenced to prison. Madame Monnier died 15 days into her sentence, while the brother appealed the charges and escaped justice. As for Blanche Monnier herself, she lived the rest of her life in a psychiatric hospital.

Why The Creepy Images Surrounding Michael Rockefeller's Disappearance Only Begin To Tell The Story

The son of New York governor Nelson Rockefeller and one of the heirs to the Standard Oil fortune, Michael Rockefeller had a passion for traveling to faraway places and experiencing the unexplored and untouched. This desire for adventure took Rockefeller to the remote reaches of Papua New Guinea in 1961.

The Asmat people who lived in Dutch New Guinea, as the massive island off the coast of Australia was then called, had severely limited contact with the outside world. Thus, Rockefeller found the uncharted territory he was looking for when he arrived there — but he was tragically unaware of what he was in for.

He and Dutch anthropologist René Wassing arrived in the area by boat on Nov. 19, 1961. Although they were a long 12 miles from shore, Rockefeller reportedly told Wassing, "I think I can make it." He jumped into the water and headed for land — but was never seen again.

Southern Coast Of New Guinea

Eliot Elisofon/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty ImagesThe southern coast of New Guinea, where Michael Rockefeller went missing.

Because he was a member of a super-rich American dynasty, the Harvard graduate's disappearance prompted a massive search. Ships, airplanes, and helicopters combed the region for any sign of life. They found nothing.

"There is no longer any hope of finding Michael Rockefeller alive," the Dutch interior minister said after a nine-day search.

Rockefeller's official cause of death was initially listed as drowning. However, National Geographic reporter Carl Hoffman offered a far more disturbing thesis in his 2014 book, Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism and Michael Rockefeller's Tragic Quest for Primitive Art.

Hoffman claims to have uncovered evidence showing that Rockefeller made it to land where he was decapitated by the Asmat people before they ceremonially cannibalized him, eating his brain and using his thigh bones to make daggers. Though other scholars have doubted Hoffman's research, he has stood by his claims.

See the creepy historical photo that preceded his death, as well as dozens of other disturbing images from decades past, in the gallery above.

After looking at some of the best creepy historical photos ever taken, see more astoundingly bizarre photos from history. Then, check out some of the most fascinating rare historical photos in existence.

Marco Margaritoff
A former staff writer for All That’s Interesting, Marco Margaritoff holds dual Bachelor's degrees from Pace University and a Master's in journalism from New York University. He has published work at People, VICE, Complex, and serves as a staff reporter at HuffPost.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
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Margaritoff, Marco. "55 Of History’s Creepiest Pictures — And Their Equally Disturbing Backstories." AllThatsInteresting.com, December 1, 2020, https://allthatsinteresting.com/creepy-pictures. Accessed June 19, 2024.