The Raven in Folklore.

A distinct black shape, tumbling in the updrafts of a mountain crag – a raven at play. The ‘gronking’ call of a raven is one of the most evocative sounds of Britain’s uplands. The raven is probably the world’s most intelligent and playful bird. In the world of myth, it is a bird of paradox, […]

Ruysch, the Artist of “Death”.

Detail from Jan van Neck’s Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Frederick Ruysch (1683), showing Ruysch in the centre with an infant cadaver. When visiting Frederik Ruysch in Amsterdam in 1697, Tsar Peter the Great kissed one of the specimens from his anatomical museum, and afterwards bought the entire collection. Three hundred years later, the Dutch crown […]

The Painful Art of Tooth pulling, circa 18th Century.

Gripping moment … a tooth being extracted by an evil looking blacksmith/dentist, in an 18th-century oil painting. The blacksmith-cum-dentist seems to be enjoying himself as he uses a pair of giant pincers to remove a tooth – or teeth – from the mouth of a frightened and distraught patient. Much Pain awaits this poor devil […]

“Why are Clowns so Scary?”

by Finlo Rohrer Children are frightened by clown-themed decor in hospitals, a survey suggests. How did the smiley circus entertainers become a horror staple? Anyone who has read Stephen King’s “It” would probably never choose to decorate a children’s ward with clowns. And it probably comes as no surprise to horror fans that a University […]

Fortinio Liceti’s Monsters, 1665.

Highlights from the illustrations in the 1665 edition of Fortunio Liceti’s De Monstris, originally published, without the illustrations, in 1616. Liceti’s work, although not the first on the topic of deformities in nature, was perhaps the most influential of the period. In the wake of the book there was a huge rise in interest throughout […]

‘Untitled’.

Desperate, tender, doomed—Beksinski’s couple are heartbreaking. Untitled In one of the most directly affecting pieces on this list, Zdizslaw Beksinski presents the charred and skeletal forms of a couple clinging to one another in the aftermath of some disaster. The red and orange palette suggests some form of fiery destruction, whether nuclear or solar, and […]

Mandrake, Magical & Mysterious.

The Mandrake, Mandragora officinarum, is a plant called by the Arabs luffâh, or beid el-jinn (“djinn’s eggs”). Mandrake is the common name for members of the plant genus Mandragora belonging to the nightshades family (Solanaceae). Mandrake contains deliriant hallucinogenic tropane alkaloids such as atropine, scopolamine, apoatropine, and hyoscyamine. The roots sometimes bifurcate, causing them to […]

The Green Fairy & the Heebie Geebies

When absinthe — also known as the Green Fairy — was banned in France, Switzerland, the Un­ited States and many other countries in the early 1900s, it had become associated with illicit behavior. In fact, it was accused of turning children into criminals, encouraging loose morals and inspiring murders. That regular old alcohol received similar […]

The Brothers Grimm & their dark early fairytales.

A postcard from the 1800s shows the seven dwarfs finding Snow White asleep in their bedroom. Hulton Archive/Getty Images The Original Folk & Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm by Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm, Jack Zipes and Andrea Dezso It’s well-known that our favorite fairy tales started out darker than the ones Disney animators brought […]

‘The Weeping Devil’ by McNair.

American illustrator and artist Jon MacNair has a unique style that is grounded in surrealism and Gothic whimsy. Sticking with a mostly black and white palette, his creations are crammed with so many ghoulish delights: woodland spirits resurrecting the dead, battles with mythical monsters, and trees growing out of the back of mysterious animals. See […]