Disturbing Vintage Santa Claus Photos Still Discussed Decades Later
By | December 16, 2022
Everything about this photo of a creepy Santa is troubling. Why is there a child sitting on a donkey? Is the donkey working for Santa? Is that an address? Not to bury the lede but this looks like a photo of Krampus in disguise as Mr. Claus so he can dish out switch-based punishment. Maybe this guy just needs to get some sleep, and he's not some creepy guy who found his way into a Santa costume for the day.
HO HO... oh no
Merry Christmas, it's time for some nightmare fuel. Is this Santa Claus or is it a dark elf straight out of the twisted mind of JRR Tolkien? The freaky-deaky face that we're looking at is most likely the by product of a lot of grease paint, eyeliner, and (we're guessing) a very bright flash bulb that blew out dark Santa's face. Would this be something that we would put on our fridge? Probably not, if for no other reason than to stop scaring all the kids on Christmas morning.
If this is who visits when you're nice we'd hate to see who shows up when you're naughty
Absolutely not. Just no. Imagine seeing this horrific monster mask in a store and thinking, yeah that would be perfect for my Santa outfit. First of all, it's great that the toddler in this photo is taking the whole thing stride because we'd be screaming our heads off. This monster mask of a creature looks like something out of The Evil Dead, and for all we know it actually is a Deadite seeking Christmas cheer to fuel its horrific desires. Or it's just some guy in a really horrible mask. Either way we're here for it.
Sure you know Rudolph, but what about Santa's famous *checks notes* donkey?
The donkey aspect of these old Santa photos are absolutely fascinating. When did Santa have a little horse that worked as his toy carrier? Is this supposed to be a stand-in for reindeer, or are we missing something here? As odd as the donkey of it all is we're here to talk Santa so let's get down to it. Doesn't he have an Edward Gorey quality to him that make it feel like he's about to leave a bunch of spiders in everyone's stocking? This would be a hard pass if we showed up for a Christmas photo and this was the one Santa to take photos with.
You'd better watch out, you'd better not cry, Santa can still see you even though he has no eyes
Another day, another insanely creepy Santa mask. The dead eyes of this yueltide monster are what really make it horrifying, but maybe it wouldn't be so freaky-deaky if the guy wearing the mask knew how to put it on correctly.
John Carpenter's "Christmas"
AH! Everything about this photo is absolutely chilling, not just the wax figure playing Santa. Sure, his paper white, expressionless face is the stuff of nightmares, but the children posed with expectant hands waiting on seasonal gifts has a surreal quality unto itself that's hard to look away from.
Why so serious, Santa?
What, pray tell, is going on here? Luckily this baby is young enough to be checked out of the entire Santa experience, and may not even realize just how weird this entire tableau is. But seriously what's going on with this guy's face? On first glance it looks like he's wearing a mask from Planet of the Apes that's been melted or adjusted in some way to make it look absolutely terrifying - something that the eyes (or lack thereof) seem to suggest. Or maybe this is just the face of someone who has to deal with little kids making insane asks all day long for minimum wage.
Santa really knows how to find the lens
We applaud these kids for not giving this incredibly creepy Santa the attention he clearly craves. If we've learned anything from all of these Santa photos it's that a mask is never a good option when playing the big guy from the North Pole. It may seem like a fast and easy way to get into the Santa business, but it always plays off to just throw a little rouge on your cheeks, grow out the beard, and put on some extra pounds for authenticity.
Shaking hands over a good day's work of sufficiently horrified children
Now this is some Christmas nightmare fuel that really goes for the gusto. From the hideous mask that we'll be seeing every time we close our eyes, to the roller skates that allow Santa's rat sidekicks to easily grab children and bring them to their bearded boss. In spite of the fact that this is a truly chilling photo it's the only one out of the entire slideshow that we want blown up to the size of a wall so we can hang it in our foyer from November 1st to the end of the holiday season.
Who hasn't felt this way during the holidays?
Finally, someone acting appropriately in the face of an incredibly creepy fill-in Santa. Who among us doesn't want to scream-cry when in close proximity to something akin to a ghoul in a bright red suit?
Santa Claus or Spider-Man?
Oh yes, of course, it's time for the annual showing of the red faced monster to appear, something that's curiously timed with the arrival of one Mr. Santa Claus. Whoever put this mask together took the "rosy cheeks" thing a little too far and just said, "What if Santa was all rosy, baby?" The effect turns Santa into something more like Spider-Man than an a large, present delivering elf, and we're just not sure if that's in the spirit of the season.
Someone get this Santa a cup of coffee
For all we know this department store Santa could have been a stand up guy and a pillar of the community, it's just in this photo it looks like he's carrying out community service. Sure, he looks tired AF and the baby isn't haven't all that great of a time, but the real icing on the cake here is the cheap watch that Santa's sporting. You'd think a guy who spends all of his time cranking out merchandise at the North Pole could fix himself up with something classy.
The most chill Santa ever
Now this is a Santa we can get behind. He's on his own clock. He answers to no man, elf, or Krampus, he's just chilling out and delivering toys however he feels like doing it. This is a Santa who has it all figured out, a Santa who we can all learn a little something from. Stay cool, Santa, keep L-I-V-I-N.
Be good for goodness sake
It can't be easy to be a department store Santa. You have to deal with crying kids, you're probably getting who knows what kind of germs all over your big, bushy beard, and then there are the outsized demands that you have no way to handle. On top of all of that you've got to figure out how to take about 100 pictures a day without looking incredibly scary, we don't envy these guys.
Wait... you're taking a photo of this?
Forget for a moment, if you can, that this Santa looks like he's in a Monty Python sketch, and instead let's focus on the look of sheer surprise on the face of this girl who was gifted a stuffed elephant. This unfortunately timed photo was taken in an era before digital cameras allowed parents to take pic after pic until they were able to get something satisfactory. This was the one photo that the parents got and at least it's cute even if it is a little awkward.
Santa Claus or the Cryptkeeper, that's your call
All that matters in the moment when these photos are taken is that the child is happy, and this is one seriously happy baby, but holy moly is this an insane looking Santa mask. What was it about the '60s and '70s that led people to believe that a mask of a thing was better than just throwing on some makeup? The fact that this photo exists is genuinely amazing. It's so much fun to think about the fact that this kid was able to grow up with this hilariously strange Santa photo hanging above the mantle.
Hey kid, you want to take a picture with Santa?
Oh no. Why let this guy come to work as a department store Santa Claus when:
1. He's a beanpole when Santa is famously large and in charge.
2. He looks like he was in a bar fight the night before.
This poor kid had to look at this every Christmas when their parents trotted it out (because there's no way something this good could stay in the bottom of a drawer) and that's such a drag - even if we think it's super funny.
Santa Claus is coming to town... and that's a threat
You know in every true crime documentary when someone who escaped from a true psycho is like, "I could see in his eyes that he was crazy?" That's the look that this department store Santa is serving.
Santa Claus or the Grim Reaper?
What's with all the skinny-minny Santas in these mortifyingly awkward Christmas photos? Everything about this photo is above board and honestly very cute, it's just that Santa looks like he's about to turn to dust if he can't find sustenance soon, and candy canes will not do the trick anymore.
This is NOT the Santa you want coming down your chimney
Is Santa admiring these little "sleeping" children or is he sneaking up on them? Either way it's super weird. Merry Christmas?
When your photo with Santa doubles as a headshot
It's rare to see a department store Santa photo where the Santa is an afterthought, but it's kind of fascinating to know that this young woman was able to get the photographers to complete flip their set up to just focus on her.
Merry Christmas, no one is happy
There's an energy (or lack thereof) to this photo that makes us think it was taken at the end of the day, when Santa was exhausted with little stinkers sitting on his lap and everyone was just ready to go home. Even more odd than the low energy is the way that everyone is looking at the same point off camera. Shouldn't they be staring down the barrel? And shouldn't they pretend to be happy? At least dad is having a great time.
TFW you're reaaaally good at your job
Is it awkward that this department store Santa is the only person we can make out in this photo? Definitely. But it's exactly the way that you want to remember your children at this time of the year - precocious and charming while attempting to pull an old man's beard off his face.
Santa would just like to know where he can find your family's valuables
Does this look like a still from an unseen holiday slasher movie from the '70s to anyone else? This Santa outfit has the vibe of something that a burglar would wear for a low stakes, holiday themed breaking and entering. What we're trying to say is that this is probably not the way that a child wants to remember the time they met Kris Kringle.
Everyone's favorite Christmas characters: Sanra, the clown, the nun, and the cat... lady?
As awkward as Santa looks at this costume party it's a pretty great last known photo.
Something's off with this Santa but we can't quite put our fingers on it
A tip for anyone trying to get into the Santa game: grow out your hair and beard. It's always going to look better if you've got some grizzle on you than if you have a fake beard and some whips of gray locks stapled to the inside of your hat. Not only will real facial hair make you look like the genuine article, but you'll look less like someone who ran into a costume shop for a change of clothes.
Santa, or guy who just happened to be wearing a red outfit?
Okay folks, who let this kid run around SantaCon? There's something incredibly disturbing about seeing a guy dressed like Santa who's clearly just crawled out from the bottom of a bottle, and it's even weirder when they're posing with a child. Best case scenario - this Santa is a really great sport and agreed to a photo when he wasn't completely in character (on his break even). Yeah, let's just say that's what happend.
Merry Christmas, what are you kids doing here?
As far as creepy Santa photos go this could have been so much worse. The kids look comfortable and happy, but the thousand yard stare that this department store Kris Kringle gives us the major heebie jeebies. What's this guy looking at? Did an elf run off with his wallet? Or is he just burnt out from a day of dealing with needy kids? Ah, the mysteries of history.
TFW you're a little too old for Santa
The sheer joy on display in this photo makes it hard to be cynical about the legitimately insane Santa mask that this guy is wearing. The kids on the bottom row are happy, they've got some cool mystery gifts, and the older kids realize just how goofy the whole thing is. If it weren't for the guy in the monster movie mask and the black tarp hanging behind everyone it would be a slam dunk of department store Santa photos.
Good old fashioned nightmare fuel
Imagine being on the production end of this photo and taking last looks at everyone's costume - the dirty beard and greasepaint unibrow on Santa, the angry Easter Bunny who looks like he's strung out on PCP, and the guy in the paper crown who looks like he's being forced against his will to be an elf and saying yes, this is the perfect Christmas photo opportunity.
Shouldn't he be using the chimney?
Oh boy it's the best time of the year! When the half-man, half-lobster, part party machine rolls into class and hands out yuletide cheer! Have you been on your best behavior? You better hope so or you'll be cursed to be the lobster man next Christmas! But seriously folks this is absolutely terrifying. There's a lot of great stuff about the '60s and '70s but this Santa Claus get up is not on that list.
If you've got the cotton balls you might as well use them
As truly strange as this photo is, it's great that someone with hypertrichosis found a way to work their affliction into Santa costume.
When you want a mortgage for Christmas
Is there anything that says "Christmas" like the classic adult posing with Santa photo? It may not be the number one piece of the season but it's definitely in the top 10. The thing that's really jumping out to us about this photo is the amount of white paint that this department store Santa has applied to his face. What was it with the groovy era that made people think that they needed to go full war paint to play Santa when all they need is a little rouge and a lot of charisma? The glasses are a nice touch though, so it's not all bad.
Can we just get to New Year's already?
Nothing quite sums up the Christmas experience when you're a child as this photo. You get all dressed up to meet Santa, you stand in line for an hour (at least) with nothing but peppermint candy canes to tide you over, and when you finally get a chance to meet the man himself he's got a beard that goes over his nose and a pair of poindexter glasses. Oh well, there's always next year.