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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Americana gone weird, 29 Oct 2010
By 
A. Osborne "Malign Fiesta" (Jolly old Blighty) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Haunted Air (Hardcover)
It's all there in the subtitle - 'A Collection of Anonymous Hallowe'en Photographs America c. 1875 - 1955' ... this is a wonderful book, culled from Ossian Brown's collection of Halloween photos from the America of yesteryear.
Deeply weird and strangely poignant, these anonymous images are strongly redolent of the work of Diane Arbus or Charles Gatewood (minus the body -modification and full-on nudity, of course), naive but at the same time very sinister. It's the homespun quality, both of the photos themselves and of the costumes that imply these qualities. A small child dressed up as a cat appears to be about to take a leak against a gatepost, an older youth (in pantaloons?) wearing a dog's head poses against a rural backdrop, a small boy in carnival mask poses between two older boys - the photo carries the dedication "the one that scares you is Donnie", but which one is Donnie - and what did he get up to?
Almost every image here implies something odd is about to happen, just seconds after the photo was taken. But what? That's up to you. Most of these photos appear to be taken in the 'burbs - what was going on in small town America? Is it any wonder that David Lynch was sufficiently enamoured to write a (typically odd) foreword?

Ossian Brown is a polymath - artist, occultist, collector and musician, most notably with Coil and Cyclobe, and he has put together a memorable collection of images.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Creeping Horror Of The Everyday, 16 Jun 2011
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This review is from: Haunted Air (Hardcover)
Ossian Brown's incredible collection of found Halloween pictures is an absolute must for anyone with an affinity for the extraordinary. Looking through this book is like stumbling across a bizarre family album depicting an alternate reality where the American suburbs of yesteryear were descended upon by gangs of diminutive creatures somehow captured on film before they retreated into the shadows.

The sepia-toned, awkwardly-framed and hazy images convey a nightmarish intensity. Many of these photographs predate the mass production of Halloween masks and costumes, lending the crudely improvised outfits a genuinely sinister aura. Most chillingly of all, these evil clowns, merry demons and hessian-cowled figures inhabit the everyday: they pose on picket-fenced lawns, leaf-strewn porches and in living rooms, nestled comfortably in rocking chairs beside the fireplace.

This beautiful hardback is bound in appropriately sombre black cloth, with each photograph presented uncropped, one per page. David Lynch fittingly contributes the introduction (who better to preface a collection of images conveying the creeping, fantastical dread lurking behind the seemingly everyday?). Geoff Cox's eloquent afterword poetically traces the origins of Halloween, the ancient tradition reinterpreted most wondrously of all in America.

Thanks to Ossian Brown, this long-dead group of disparate amateur photographers and their subjects have created the best photography book of 2010. "Haunted Air" belongs in the library of anyone with an interest in photography and the shadows that lurk within.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uncanny Characters, 1 May 2012
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This review is from: Haunted Air (Hardcover)
Beautiful book! Gorgeous vintage black & white photographs from the dark-side. David Lynch is on form as ever writing the introduction. If you are a Lynch fan, or just a fan of strangeness, you need this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime, 28 Oct 2011
By 
Mr. S. Swift "Caligula77" (Great Britain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Haunted Air (Hardcover)
With a backdrop of Southern dirt farms, barren dry landscapes this collection of photographs are horrifying. The images look like the kind of nightmarish figures that you catch out of the corner of your eye. The sort of images that shouldn't be able to be caught on camera. Whilst looking at them for a time you feel that some figure in a blacked up face, conical hat and blank eyes could be staring through the window and vanish as you glance up. A genuinely disturbing book , a must.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully eerie., 2 Mar 2012
By 
This review is from: Haunted Air (Hardcover)
Haunted Air is a beautiful hard-cover collection of Halloween photographs from America's past. There's something very strange and even magical about this book. The introduction by David Lynch is short, sweet and beautifully written; then we get straight to the photographs. The pages are of high-quality paper and the print-job is perfect; the photographs jump out from centre of their plain-white surroundings, right into your mind. There is on average, one photo for every two pages, the left page is often blank while the right contains the image, it's so minimal and effective, and gives each image the attention it duly deserves. I'm not going to try to explain the images, they just need to be seen.
So fans of the macabre, weird, dark, fantastical, and wonderful should find something to enjoy here. If you have even a mild interest in the contents of this book, I know you will love it.

(Also, as a Coil fan, I thought it was nice to see this book is dedicated to Jhon Balance.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Passport to another realm, 12 May 2013
By 
Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles "FIST" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Haunted Air (Hardcover)
Reminded me of the Pop Group album cover depicting a tribe of people immersed within their ecstatic religion. The photos however are America, sepia along with black and white images of children and adults. Bringing out the eerie the pictures of varying quality, these bridge the pavement to another world - where religion is put to one side and people communicate on another level.

These are the ghosts of the past, rising before the Old Testament was plastered over these people. As such it brings the historical realm back to the present and makes the realisation people are suspended within their dreams.

These photos make the connection to Coil and David Lynch.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very nice, 28 April 2013
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This review is from: Haunted Air (Hardcover)
really like this book. It's well presented and gets the imagination working! Scared a friend a little bit, some of the pictures are a little bit creepy but am happy with my purchase
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, intriguing and disturbing, 4 April 2013
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This review is from: Haunted Air (Hardcover)
This book is simply stunning. It is simply a collection of old photographs (some very old) showing some utterly amazing halloween costumes from the past. All of these costumes are unique and handmade and this is what gives this book it's power. Some of the pictures are really creepy to look at - the best word I can think of is the European word "Fredreich" - that is how scary this book is. Definitely a book of nightmares - Halloween was clearly a much scarier time in the past.

Hopefully there will be a sequel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning collection of eerie vintage Americana, 18 Mar 2013
By 
Joanne Sheppard "Being Obscure Clearly" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Haunted Air (Hardcover)
I received this book as a birthday present, and the moment I opened it, I knew I had to look at every page before I even thought about opening my next gift.

Haunted Air is a simple idea: a book of vintage photographs - dating from the late 19th to mid 20th centuries - of people in Halloween costumes. And yet there's something about it that is incredibly eerie, almost disturbing. The people in the pictures, faces concealed behind grotesque, almost invariably homemade, masks, are entirely anonymous; each photograph is reproduced without explanation or caption. Who are they? Are they still alive? Are there really happy, smiling faces behind those blank-eyed, staring papier-mache creations and cobbled-together witches' robes and clown make-up? Some are almost comically creepy, others - particularly when the poverty of those in the pictures is apparent - are strangely sad. But every one has something unsettling about it.

This book is a beautifully-produced compilation of American small-town gothic imagery. I note the foreword is by David Lynch, and there is indeed something very Lynchian about Haunted Air, with echoes too of films like Donnie Darko or even scenes from the UK TV series Psychoville. Fantastic stuff.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful... and chilling, 8 Dec 2010
This review is from: Haunted Air (Hardcover)
I have never seen photos quite like this... extraordinary homemade costumes and images of people that stay with you (as well as scare you a little). The foreword and text at the end are brilliantly odd too.
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Haunted Air
Haunted Air by Ossian Brown (Hardcover - 28 Oct 2010)
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