Ghostly Gape

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Ghosts (and some other forms of supernatural creature) are often depicted with their eyes or mouth as deep black hollows, often accompanied by the mouth gaping wide, either slack or screaming. Eyes so depicted might be missing pupils, sclera or even eyelids, while mouths may lack teeth or lips. In extreme cases the shapes of the mouth or eyes may be unnaturally rounded or distended.

In some cases the presence may imply a loss (or lack) of humanity, and be reversed should that humanity be regained (or gained in the first place).

One way or another, the effect can be unsettling; perhaps it's the lack of the emotional cues that those features provide, or the aforementioned loss of humanity, or simply a descent into the Uncanny Valley.

The Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl may have eyes like this, and they're commonly (and often the only) facial features of the Bedsheet Ghost. Compare Glowing Eyelights of Undeath, with which this may be paired to create eyes like gaping pits surrounding pinpricks of light.

A subtrope of Nightmare Face. Overlaps with Black Eyes of Evil; see also Looks Like Cesare and Hidden Eyes. Compare/Contrast Evil Eyeshadow, and compare Scary Flash Light Face, which can produce an appearance much like this.

Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • YuYu Hakusho's Shishiwakamaru can summon ghosts with this kind of face in addition to his sword getting this kind of face via opening it's hilt to reveal that it contains strange, muscular tissue with said face.
  • In The Seven Deadly Sins, during the nightmare sequence in which Gowther Mind Rapes Dreyfus with his powers, the still impaled and bleeding corpse of Zaratras, Dreyfus' brother whom he murdered, appears. As Dreyfus cowers in guilt at this apparition, its eyes and mouth become dark empty abysses which spew out blood all over Dreyfus.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Both of the Grave Encounters movies feature ghosts that can have their faces transform into this when viewed through a video camera lens.
  • Salvage/Gruesome: Near the end, the (presumed) spirits of the two teenage victims have this appearance; bonus points for standing uncannily still, their faces tilted up.
  • The Grudge has the ghost of the little boy, whose mouth is deeply black within.
  • Outpost: Rise of the Spetsnaz. Having escaped from his cell before the Nazis can use him for their experiments, Russian commando Dolokhov hides in another cell when he hears patrolling guards, but realises he's not alone in there. A bald-headed man is standing in the shadows, giving a Quizzical Tilt. Dolokhov peeks back outside, then suddenly realises the man is crouched right next to him. The man's eyes morph into Black Eyes of Evil and his jaw drops to an impossible depth — Dolokhov gets the hell out of there.

    Literature 
  • In most versions of A Christmas Carol (including the original book) Marley's ghost wears a bandage around his head to keep his jaw from hanging down, and at one point takes it off in order to frighten Scrooge even more.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The "Witch in the Well" in the Doctor Who episode "Hide" has this appearance by default, though it turns out she isn't a ghost but a living woman trapped in a bizarre parallel universe.

    Other 
  • The "Ghostface" mask (as seen in Scream) might be seen as a "classic" Ghostly Gape.
  • Several of artist Francis Bacon's works depict figures with semitransparent faces and screaming mouths, invoking this trope.

    Pinball 
  • In Gottlieb's Haunted House, many of the ghosts and even some of the objects in the house have jagged black eyes and mouths.

    Video Games 
  • Hello? Hell...o?. The ghosts of Akari and Kazuki have black, nearly-round eyes and mouths. (See here)
  • One of the ghosts encountered in The Lost Crown, as shown in the page image.
  • At least one apparition in DreadOut has this appearance (albeit with white eyes above a black mouth).
  • The infamous Uboa of Yume Nikki, who resembles the Scream mask a lot.
  • In the first Animal Crossing game, forgetting to save while in another save file's town will render the character without their possessions... including their face. The poor villager will be stuck with holes where their eyes and mouth used to be until the game is started up again. This is to say nothing of the Gyroids and the NPC rabbit named Coco, who all permanently have this expression in all games.
  • These show up with the hostile ghosts as enemies in the game Nanashi no Game.
  • The ghost from Black Rose now has one of these in the revamped version.
  • Golden Freddy, resident Easter Egg/Legacy Boss Battle of Five Nights at Freddy's and its sequel, has no eyes and a slack jaw, in addition to having his head tilted to the left. Understandably, he's the most dangerous of all the animatronics; in the first game, he can crash your entire game, while in 2, modifying his AI only changes how often he appears; he's always really, really fast and capable of killing you from the hallway, before he's even in the room.note 
  • The iconic creepers from Minecraft are not any sort of ghostly being (probably) but they are decidedly unnatural and otherworldly — they spawn alongside zombies and undead skeletons, after all — and unlike anything players had ever seen before. They walk around with what appear to be empty eye sockets and a gaping mouth that sags at the corners.
  • The first and most plentiful type of monster in Amnesia: The Dark Descent resembles nothing so much as a burlap sack that's been sliced open near the top and given a face. If you were able to get a good look at it — which you shouldn't be — you would see teeth jutting out of its nonexistent lower jaw.

    Western Animation 
  • The Phantom Shadows from the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! episode "A Night of Fright is No Delight" have orange spots for eyes and a gaping orange mouth.