Why, in horror movies, do you sometimes see photographs with the eyes scratched out?

I’m currently doing some research for a personal art project I am keen on starting soon, and I am having trouble finding anything on this subject. I personally enjoy watching horror films on the subject of haunting/possession, and often which watching these films, I see photographs of people that have been scratched out over the eyes. I need to know if the scratching out of the eyes on a photograph has any genuine folk lore, myth or rumour behind it that would lead the director to incorporate such an aspect into the film, or whether it is simply a disturbing technique thought up by the director to enhance the film’s scare factor.

5 Answers

  • Anonymous
    8 days ago

    In movies, it’s probably done just for dramatic effect. When scrutinizing any image of a person, whether it’s a photograph, painting or whatever, it’s our instinctive human reaction to look at the EYES first. So defacing the eyes in a photo is a metaphor for destroying or harming that person.

    The frequent use of that imagery in films could loosely be related to the cultural myth about the “Evil Eye” – the superstitious belief that someone can inflict injury, suffering or bad luck on another person simply by gazing at them. If the image has no eyes, it cannot “curse” those looking at it. This belief has been demonstrated for centuries; when sculptures or artwork is defaced, the eyes are always a primary target. That would be the only connection I know of as far as folklore or myths.

  • Shower in the Bath
    8 days ago

    Eyes are windows to the soul apparently. They show emotions, and you can also identify someone by their eyes alone.

    A lot of horrors use the eyes if not for goreyness then for creepiness. Many people are afraid of damage to their eyes, and scratching out the eyes might mean they are blinded, or going to be, or they are going to be posessed all sorts of things. I believe that a lot of the reason you can’t find much on the subject is because horror film directors leave it to your interpretation, thus playing on your personal fears and makes it more of an experience for you, the viewer.

    Good luck on your project though!

  • Lharvey
    8 days ago

    I think the folklore paradigm on this is, is that if a psycho killer killed a family member, the pictures of that family member all over the house would begin to haunt him, like she was staring at him through the pictures, so he removes the eyes so the pictures cant do that anymore.

    So in horror movies, it would make sense that all the wife and children photos had the eyes scratched away, if the father murdered them all, and still lived there.

    On a similar tangent, say someone was obsessed with a moviestar, and had a little shrine at come, clipping pictures and magazine articles of this actress, and was a creepy over the top fan-boy of the actress. Then, one day, he met her at some public thing, and she was a total beotch to him. NOW that shrine at home, and all those pictures are MOCKING him through the actresses eyes. and they are EVERYWHERE.

    In the end, its not about the power of the pictures, its about the internal guilt/humiliation of the already messed-up-in-the-head Bad Man that has to look at them all day.

  • No Name Here
    8 days ago

    The first thing anyone can look at with a person is they eyes. Even if it’s just a fleeting glance, and even if you’ve known them forever, you often look at their eyes. When eyes are gone, it increases suspense because you’re going to look at them and they won’t be there. Plus, a person’s eyes tells a lot about how they feel and what they think.

    The person can see YOU, but you can’t see THEM, if that makes sense.

  • khole12
    8 days ago

    A lot has to do w/ their eyes has been taken/sewed to prevent others from seeing them. Then again it’s the age~old fear of cameras, that that might take their souls and hold them in suspended animation in their photos. Maybe their relatives/friends or spouses share that and did that. I believe a certain form of voodoo woship does that.

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