The excellent recent documentary The Nightmare examines the topic of sleep paralysis, a condition which causes terrifying waking hallucinations in its victims. Many of the sufferers of sleep paralysis describe similar visions. In fact, these descriptions are often so alike, it’s uncanny. One of the typical hallucinatory images described is that of a shadowy silhouetted figure. Sometimes there are three of these figures, the leader of which is usually wearing some sort of a hat. This hat-wearing dream-stalking shadow is said to have been the original basis for the Freddy Krueger character from A Nightmare on Elm Street.
There is something very primal about this shadow figure that haunts the dreams of sleep paralysis sufferers. This dark silhouette is something ingrained into our animal brains as an anthropomorphic personification of fear itself.
I was reminded of the demons of sleep paralysis when I ran across a post from Camera Viscera collecting scads of VHS horror covers all with the thematic connection of having a silhouette figuring prominently in the artwork. You can check their site or their Facebook page for even more of these “kill-houettes.”
Below is a gallery of the finest examples of shadow terror art.
Happy nightmares, folks: