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Creepy Changing Painting

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"I'm not being funny or nothing, but that picture just moved!"

Sometimes, an inanimate object such as a painting or statue might inexplicably change off camera. For example, in one shot a statue of a man may be smiling, and in another shot the statue will be frowning. This can be used as a Funny Background Event, but is often used in horror, and can possibly be a source of Paranoia Fuel.

Sub-trope of Anomalous Art and Spooky Painting, Sister Trope to Offscreen Reality Warp. Compare Living Photo when the characters are looking at the photo and it comes alive in front of their eyes rather than at their back. May overlap with Expressive Accessory. See also Portrait Painting Peephole.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Delicious in Dungeon, the first living painting the party encounter is a portrait of a woman whose eyes follow them from panel to panel.
  • In GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class, Awara has made one, albeit tear-off rather than actually supernatural.
    Awara: When you hang this on the wall, it looks like a normal painting... but if ya tear it away from the bottom page by page, like this... The Mona Lisa in the painting starts to move little by little... until she eventually creeps up ta ya.
    Homura: Is anybody interested in making pleasant art!?
  • In Natsume's Book of Friends Natsume buys a painting of some trees at a swap meet that sinks roots into his walls, gains a silhouetted figure, and starts draining his life energy after he brings it home.

    Comic Books 
  • The Don Rosa Donald Duck story The Magnificent Seven (Minus Four) Caballeros features a statue who is quite affronted at the thought of sharing Junior Woodchuck information with a non-woodchuck. Don Rosa quite likes these sorts of bonuses.
  • One issue of the Comic-Book Adaptation of Rocky and Bullwinkle had a pawn shop in whose window was displayed a bust that seemed to grin one moment and scowl the next. It turned out to be connected to the auction in that story.
  • In an issue of The Vault of Horror, a story called "Southern Hospitality" features a painting of an old Southern gentleman who stabs the antagonist through the eye with the sword he's holding.

    Fan Works 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami features this in an interesting way. When her dungeon is under direct attack by the dark god Crowned Death things start falling apart or warp in eerie ways as his rot-everything power infects them. Strangely, it is noted that parts of her Dungeon under observation are more reluctant to succumb to the effect.
  • The children's drawings in Something Always Remains tend to do this.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Airplane!, the inflatable "Otto" pilot doll changes expression several times. And the Angel on the dashboard covers her eyes in fear when they're about to land.
  • The Arrangement: Done with photographs, as just one of several surreal effects in the movie. Florence stumbles across some hidden photos of Eddie and Gwen cavorting at the beach. She tears them up and then flings them down on Eddie's desk. The images in the pictures are then shown to move. (The movie doesn't definitively say whether or not Eddie is a wizard.)
  • Played for laughs in By The Sea. When the General smokes a cigar in a hotel corridor, a picture on the wall shows a woman frowning. When he drops his cigar ash on to a table, the woman in the picture looks horrified. He then sweeps it up, and the picture smiles.
  • Carry On Screaming!: Bung tells Slobotham that they must leave the spooky house with dignity: then they hear laughter, and notice that a statue has changed to a grinning expression, and they run away.
  • The film version of Catch-22 has a scene in Major Major's office, which has a photograph of FDR on a wall. As Major Major talks with Sgt. Towser, he paces in circles around the room, causing the photo to disappear from view and then reappear, replaced in succession with pictures of Churchill and Stalin.
  • The old man's headstone portrait in Cemetery Man changes expression from serious (at first) to smug (when Francesco realizes that She is the old guy's widow) to anger (when She and Francesco are having sex on his grave).
  • Cloud 9: When Kayla accidentally destroys the Summit Valley billboard, the smiling expressions of the three people on it change to them shockingly looking at the hole.
  • In The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow, an Occult Detective examines a photo of four figures at a campsite for evidence of paganism. The campsite photo first appears simply examined in detail, then the camera zooms in to a degree and angle impossible to achieve if the photograph remains two-dimensional, craning to reveal the reflection in a car's sideview mirror as though the viewer had stepped inside the photo rather than looked at it. From that point onward, elements change through the course of various dizzying zooms, with facial expressions altered, limbs positioned differently and other figures revealed in reflected surfaces and hidden behind trees. The film is vague as to how much the changes represent the investigator piecing the story together, and how much is the explicit manifestation of the paranormal.
  • Ghostbusters II: Vigo's painting does this a couple of times in addition to his more over-the-top stuff.
  • Ghosts of War: One of the soldiers finds a framed basement in the chateau. He shines a light on it, and sees it's of the house's old family. The light goes out, so he shines his flashlight on the photo... only to see that the family is gone.
  • Played for Laughs in Hopscotch. Kendrig is being hunted by the CIA because he's writing a book exposing their dirty tricks. In a Refuge in Audacity, he hides out in the summer house rented by his CIA boss. A scene has Kendrig typing out the manuscript and addressing a photograph of his boss on the desk, which changes from a smile to a frown.
  • House of the Witch: The kids find a collection of framed photos on the fireplace mantle of the foyer in the house. One of them takes a photo off the mantle to get a closer look at it. During the inspection, the faces in the photoes become freaky with solid white eyes, scaring the holder and making them drop the photo on the floor.
  • The painting in the hotel foyer from In the Mouth of Madness does this, showing a couple going for a romantic walk along the river degenerating into tentacled beasts.
  • Mrs. Munson talks to her dead husband's portrait in The Ladykillers (2004) by the Coen brothers, and while the portrait never talks back, it does react to the events around it (most obviously with an expression of surprise at an explosion, and a satisfied smirk at a Karmic Death).
  • In The Man with Two Brains, Steve Martin asks his late wife (by talking to her portrait) for her approval to marry an incredibly hot new wife. The painting starts spinning while you hear her moaning "No. No. NO. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO". When it stops, Martin says "Anything. Any little sign at all." He really wants Turner.
  • In MouseHunt, the portrait of the old owner of the string factory subtly changes expressions, most notable when his son has Sex with the Ex in the office with the portrait watching in lewd appreciation.
  • Münchhausen: Not played as creepy, but as part of the light comic fantasy setting. In the opening scene, a portrait of the Baron winks at the camera. When the Baron admires Cagliostro's portrait of a nude woman as seen from behind, Cagliostro has the woman in the portrait turn to face them. And at the end, a portrait of the Baron comes alive and blows out a servant's candles.
  • In One, Two, Three, Jimmy Cagney is throwing a wild bash for three Russian commissars in the Russian zone in Berlin. While the music is playing, his hot secretary/mistress is dancing on a table and people are stomping, a giant picture of Khrushchev slips out of its frame revealing the picture of Stalin it is covering.
  • Played for Laughs in Mel Brooks' Robin Hood: Men in Tights with the sheriff's cardboard cutout.
  • In Sullivan's Travels, a the portrait of the wife's husband changes expression throughout the scenes as it watches his wife flirt with Sullivan.
  • Tales from the Hood: The wall painting of Miss Cobbs (the voodoo priestess) in Metzger's house changes when the killer dolls are released one by one, with blank shapes appearing in their place.
  • In Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, Laura Palmer describes her feelings of loneliness and isolation by saying that "the angels won't save you because they've all gone away." In a later scene, she glances at a painting of an angel serving food to some children... and the angel suddenly vanishes right before her eyes. It returns in person after Laura is murdered, to comfort her and, presumably, guide her to some kind of afterlife.
  • Les Visiteurs du Soir: Baron Hugues looks up at the painting of his beloved late wife and is startled to see it turn into a live-action painting of Dominique. It's Dominique's dark magic, she being an agent of the Devil who's looking to seduce the Baron.
  • A very minor case in Young Frankenstein. A scowling portrait of Victor Frankenstein is highly visible in Fredrick's room. When Frederick finds his grandfather's instructions and decides to continue his work, a lightning-illuminated close-up shows the portrait looking very pleased. Related is the joke of Igor's hump moving from one shoulder to another.


By Author:

  • Stephen King supplies a couple of examples:
    • Rose Madder has a changing painting in which that's not the weirdest thing about it.
    • The Road Virus Heads North gets steadily nastier as the changes continue.
    • Billy Summers: While Billy is using a cabin close to where the Overlook Hotel used to be as his writing room, he notices how a picture of the hedge animals that used to be outside the hotel keeps changing, with the animals moving positions or getting closer to the camera. Much like how the actual hedge animals did in The Shining.

By Work:

  • The Bigend Books have an example in the hotel Hollis stays while in London. It's actually several paintings the staff keeps swapping.
  • The holographic cover of Mickee Madden's Everlastin' inverts this trope: it shows a man standing next to a painting of a woman in a field but it's the man and not the painting who changes, fading in and out on the cover to indicate that he's actually a ghost.
  • In Bram Stoker's short story "The Judge's House," the dusty old painting on the dining room wall turns out to depict—surprise!—the house's former owner. Until one dark andnote  stormy night, when the student renting the house sees that the painting is empty...
  • The Mezzotint, by M. R. James, is about a mezzotint engraving which depicts a supernatural creature gradually creeping into an English manor, and making off with the family's only heir.
  • An iconic example is The Picture of Dorian Gray. The eponymous portrait changes when no one looks at it, and its first change is a subtle alteration in the expression. Most of the remaining changes are more obvious. The character depicted by the portrait doesn't change at all—in appearance, anyway.
  • The Power of Five: There's one in Jane Deverill's house in Raven's Gate. It's supposedly of her distant ancestor...
  • The portrait of Julia Stone in E. F. Benson's "The Room in the Tower" is creepy even before the reader discovers that the whole painting can move around, and it houses the now-undead Julia Stone.
  • In The Witches, one of the children is cursed to live in a painting. No one ever sees her move, but she lives her entire life in the painting, even aging gradually into an old woman, and then disappearing altogether.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Fear Her": Creepy Child Chloe Webber, possessed by an alien, has the power to trap people in her drawings. The people in those drawings sometimes move around.
    • The Weeping Angels, first seen in "Blink", are creepy moving statues.
      • In an extension of this, "The Time of Angels" reveals that "captured images" of the Weeping Angels become Angels themselves.
  • Jonas: In "Home Not Alone", Macy has a picture of herself looking proud as the president of the Jonas fan club; when her picture is replaced with Stella's and is thrown out, the picture shows Macy frowning.
  • An episode of Mysterious Ways had a crying stained glass window as its miracle of the week.
  • In the pilot episode of Night Gallery, the first segment "The Cemetary" features one. After murdering his ailing uncle, the nephew realizes that his uncle's painting of the family cemetary (where the uncle is buried) is changing every time he sees it, and it's showing his uncle rising from the grave...The butler, who both wants to avenge his old master and take the inheritance from the nephew, is gaslighting him with multiple paintings to drive him crazy. It works, and the nephew falls down the stairs to his death in the grip of insanity. As the butler gloats in triumph some time later, he watches in horror as the painting starts changing on its own right before his eyes. It's showing the nephew rising from the grave...
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray was parodied in one sketch on Spitting Image: as Tony Blair moved his party to the right, his portrait changed to show him wearing a red tie and taking advice from trade union leaders.
  • In the Supernatural episode "Provenance", things in a haunted painting move and change, although events in real life evoke a reaction in the painting.
  • One of the pranks in an episode of Trigger Happy TV featured a person disguised as a statue in a park who would sneeze every so often when people came near.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): "The Dummy" features a ventriloquist who notices while shaving in front of a mirror that his Demonic Dummy keeps on changing the tilt of its head every time he glances at it in the mirror. Then he looks directly at the dummy, and it winks at him. He responds by throwing something at it, causing its face to seemingly break.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "The Hunters", Dr. Klein studies the paintings found on the walls of the recently discovered prehistoric cave. After a week, she notices that one of them has changed. According to a photograph, a figure who was previously on the right of a depiction of a ceremonial altar is now on the left. She assures the sheriff that she can tell that the paintings are genuine because of her extensive experience in the area. That night, Dr. Klein realizes that all of the figures have disappeared from the walls, having entered the real world. One of them kills her with a spear. When the sheriff enters and discovers her body, he sees that the figures moving on the walls before his eyes. Dr. Klein's body then disappears from the cave and a figure representing it appears on one of the walls. In order to defeat the threat posed by the ghosts of the prehistoric hunters, the sheriff washes the figures away.
  • In one episode of Warehouse 13, Pete, Myka and Claudia were stuck in a house where the changes they made in the room changed the painting of that same room. And vice-versa.

  • In Daft Punk's official audio version of "Get Lucky" on YouTube, they use the album cover of the group playing their instruments and dancing in front of the setting sun. At the 2:20 mark, they suddenly start dancing and playing their instruments, then stop 15 seconds later, but in slightly different poses than they had at the start of the video.

    Video Games 
  • In Five Days A Stranger:
    • There is a painting in the dining room of Roderick Defoe. Each day, the man in the painting gets older and older. By day four, it's a corpse. By day five, the painting is blank except for a blood splatter.
    • Another example is the landscape painting in a different room. Every so often, a dark, vaguely-human figure appears on the horizon. It's subtle enough that most people don't notice. The painting was done by Matthew Defoe, one of the first deaths linked with the manor's past. Its origin is explored further in Trilby's Notes.
  • Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Heartbreak features one of these on the entrance wall of Boo Mansion.
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent: Paintings found in Castle Brennenburg change depending on the player character's sanity. Under normal conditions, the portrait of Baron Alexander depicts him as an old long-haired gentleman; if the player's sanity is low, then the portrait's face becomes melted and monstrous - possibly revealing Alexander's true face. The castle's other paintings also appear to change depending on your sanity level; this usually manifests as distortion in the figures' faces and the addition of skeletons in the scene. This makes for excellent Paranoia Fuel, just like everything else in the game.
  • Pretty much all of the paintings in Ib, considering it's all about a Creepy Changing Artist.
  • Played for horror in Clive Barker's Undying where, near the beginning of the game is a large painting of all the Covenant children. Using the Scrye spell on it makes everyone except Jeremiah turn into their demonic forms on the picture, the exact same forms you have to bossfight one-by-one later in the game. As for Jeremiah, he's simply decapitated in the picture... foreshadowing the exact manner in which he dies. Both times.
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum, there is the visitor center. A hall, seen entirely in first person, with no access to detective mode , which leads to a window through which you can only see a mannequin dressed like the Joker with a TV for a head, showing messages by the Joker himself. Creepy enough? Each time you turn and look back at it, it changes poses! Of course, that happens because that's no mannequin, but the REAL Joker sitting there just to mess with you
  • In Ai To Yuuki To Kashiwamochi, the opening game screen changes slightly every time you play the game. At first it's just Yuki, Ai's boyfriend, inching closer to take her hand. Then the sweets on the screen begin changing into medical supplies. Then Ai gets a frightened look on her face as Yuki begins gradually dragging her off the screen. Then Yuki's human appearance changes to that of a skeleton. Then the screen goes completely blank with both Yuki and Ai gone...
  • In the Old Chateau in Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, there is a room with a painting that looks normal if you look at it up close, but stares at you with glowing red eyes if you look away from it. In the remakes, it will also laugh or moan.
  • In The Sims 3, with the "Supernatural Expansion" you can buy paintings that change during nighttime. Such as a young woman turning into an old hag, a face of a man which turns into a skull, and so on.
  • In Super Castlevania IV in the gallery level there are two types of paintings that are notable. Both of similar looking old woman. One if you pass it, it will mumble something inaudible which summons bats to attack you. The other will reach down and try to grab you. Unless you try to pass them they both seem like perfectly normal paintings.
  • A game on the official website for Garfield called Scary Scavenger Hunt had a painting in one of the early rooms that depicted a man sitting in a chair, but the picture shows too little to know who it is. Upon revisiting the screen you may notice that the painting was reversed, mirrored, or flipped upside down, or eventually, simply an empty chair.
  • In Paranormal, paintings and murals around Mattel's haunted house swap positions or transform into much scarier images between one night and the next.
  • In one of the demo trailers for BioShock Infinite, one of the paintings in a bar that Booker DeWitt goes into to escape Saltonstall's barrage of cannon fire inexplicably changes. In the final release of the game, one of the statues in Columbia changes appearance right in broad daylight.
  • Antichamber: The entire game. Many things change ever-so-subtly (or perhaps not-so-subtly) when you look at them a certain number of times, when you look at them for a certain period of time, when you're looking at them from a certain angle, or even when you're not looking at them at all!
  • In AGD Interactive's Kings Quest III remake if you try talk to the painting of Manannan...
    Narrator: If it could talk, it would likely be politer than the real thing.
    Painting: Don't count on it!
    • Keep in mind, the painting isn't saying this to the protagonist, but the player. Even more of a jump scare, is the fact that in the original version it was just a regular painting, catching old time fans. And then, the painting turns completely black when Alexander turns the real Manannan into a cat.
    • Additionally, after you have turned Manannan into a cat, the portrait appears empty, and attempting to speak to it results in a meow.
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons introduced these in the 1.2.0 update. Some of the paintings you can buy from Redd turn out to be fakes, and some of those fakes turn out to be haunted and will change slightly every so often. One painting opens and closes its eyes, while another goes from smiling to frowning and back again.
  • In Eternal Darkness, after each level (interpreted as Alex Roivas reading a page of the Tome of Eternal Darkness), her sanity will have decreased a bit more and more. A serene mountain landscape hanging on the hallway will warp into a hellish landscape of torment when this happens.
    • It can also happen in the cathedral level; if Paul's or Peter's sanity level drops very low, one of the pictures in the side room near the cathedral's entrance will turn into a picture of a zombie.
  • Two in Spec Ops: The Line: In one chapter there is a giant tarp with Col. Konrad's face on it stretched across a building, which you can see from the beginning of the level. When you get closer to it near the end of the level, it has changed into a mundane advertisement for a pre-sandstorm circus act. In another, a double staircase you must climb is set around a tree which is in full bloom. When you reach the top and turn around, however, the tree is completely barren. Both of these are good indications that your character, Cpt. Walker, doesn't have the strongest grip on reality to begin with, and foreshadows just how mentally unstable he's going to become.
  • Certain posters in Five Nights at Freddy's will change, and they change more often the further you get in the game. Children's fan art will become crying faces (or vanish entirely, leaving 'IT'S ME' written on the walls), management's posters will turn into newspaper articles about a mysterious Serial Killer who lured children into a back room and murdered them, wearing an animatronic suit, and the poster of Freddy in the left hall will occasionally change to show Freddy pulling his head off, or a yellow version of Freddy's face without eyes, which will trigger a slumped-over yellow Freddy suit to appear in your office, where he'll crash your game unless you bring up the monitor again.
  • The photo of the couple in Serena will change according to what/how much the protagonist has remembered. There's also a framed poem on the wall that will change depending on the current tone of what he's discovered.
  • I'm On Observation Duty has anomalies that you have to keep a watchful eye for, including some that alter the content of paintings within the houses you watch. Rarely, you may be able to spot them change right in front of your eyes instantaneously!
  • In The 7th Guest, several paintings in the Stauf Mansion change in various ways, from one where a pair of hands attempt to push through the canvas, to a picture of a boy that talks and bares some vampire fangs at you, and a large portrait of Henry Stauf himself which, after a puzzle of altering his face is solved, shows Stauf's head slowly warping out of the painting and trying to attack the player. In the VR remake, the spirit lamp shows many of the paintings throughout the house change into macabre versions when shone. Also, the portrait of Stauf in the upstairs hallway changes as the player progresses, slowly becoming angrier.
  • Seeing as it's a surrealist horror game from the point of view of a painter who's slowly going insane (or possibly retracing an already completed descent into madness), Layers of Fear contains a lot of creative variations on this trope, to the point that the line between this and Chaos Architecture begins to blur as everything is slowly consumed by paint. It comes to a head in the Wife ending, where just after the artist thinks he finally completed the perfect portrait of his wife, her image slowly warps out of the canvas and laughs at him, while changing into a deformed, charred figure.
  • The first stage of Mug Smashers have you beating up some punks outside a pub, and in the background there's a beer advert featuring a blonde woman. It's hard to notice since you're fighting off various mooks, but look closely and the woman's face on the ad is blinking whenever you take a hit.
  • An easy to miss example in Blood (1997). Several levels feature a painting that seemingly depicts baby Jesus being held by Mary. Take the time to observe it, and you'll see that Mary mummifies from a young woman to a skeleton, and then back again. Not that surprising, considering you only traipse through areas that are, or have been, under the Cabal's influence.
  • In Super Mario 64, the start of the first Bowser level has a portrait of Princess Peach at the end of a long hallway, which turns into a portrait of Bowser as you get closer.
  • Dr. Luis, Big Bad of South of Real, has a fondness for Francisco de Goya. That would be bad enough on its own, but the Goya paintings change as the protagonist delves further and further into the mansion they grew up in. A highlight is the painting in the kitchen... Saturn Devouring His Son. The revelation in that kitchen distorts the painting. It's also related to said painting.
  • The penultimate battle in Tough Turf where you fight The Dragon in his penthouse has a portrait in the background whose eyes suspiciously follows your movements while you fight.
  • Grim Tales 11: Crimson Hollow has portraits of the Black Family to collect. When you look at them on the collectibles screen, they change from a normal portrait to a gruesome illustration of the subjects' fate and back again.
  • In A Hat in Time, there's a portrait in Queen Vanessa's Manor of a person who strongly resembles Hat Kid which starts off with no face. When you come back to it later, it now has two eyes and a stitched mouth carved into it and the person is holding Hat Kid's Dweller Mask in her hand.
  • Beyond Vigo, Ghostbusters: The Video Game has at least five of these as Cursed Artifacts.
  • In the PlayStation game D, once the player, as Laura, has started the second disc (after the Indiana Jones-esque boulder escape) Laura can walk over to an innocent looking painting of an indifferent-looking girl. Upon pressing the action button, the girl in the painting will inexplicably smile (with a non-lipped laugh) before the painting flips to a clue for the next in-room puzzle before it goes back to the same girl who goes right back to looking indifferent.
  • In The Curse of Monkey Island, a grog advertisement in the Goodsoup hotel changes slightly every time you enter the lobby. Guybrush notices something off, but doesn't place it until many examinations later - its eye seems to follow him!
  • Towards the end of Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game, Edward Pierce finds a portrait of himself facing away from the viewer, drawn by Sarah Hawkins before they had ever met. As he leaves to investigate further, his body crosses over the canvas, and his drawn self has turned to face the viewer once it's uncovered again.
  • Song of Horror: The Presence can affect certain protographies and make them change what's displayed, almost in real time.
    • In chapter 1, you can find a photo of Husher's family. If you look in the back, there's a message saying "DO NOT LOOK AT THIS PHOTO!". Turn it around and you'll find out it changed to the decomposing face of a dead woman. You find out later that that's Berenice Prestegard, a researcher that was investigating the titular cursed song before being killed by the Presence and returning as a herald of it.
    • In chapter 3, the Archives of the Art Department that Husher worked at contains a set of slides with disturbing images. When seen in a projector, they change what's depicted according to the order in which they're seen; the main puzzle of the section is determining in what logical order you need to see the slides to unlock a door at the end of them. Said door materializes in the wall the slides are being projected at, leading to a parallel world.

    Web Original 
  • SCP-1891 of the SCP Foundation does this to other paintings. Specifically, it's a painting of a stooped human. The painted human somehow moves to other paintings and gradually transforms everything depicted into machinery.
    • Go to SCP-087's page, look at the main picture. Now click on the exploration logs, read them, then go back and look at the picture again. You will have an idea of what those class-D subjects felt like.
    • SCP-895 isn't this, however the page image, ment to be from a live camera feed outside 895's containment area is, and it's used to amazing effect.
  • The Magical Library in Whither has a changing book. On The Fair Folk.

    Western Animation 
  • When Coconuts goes to fight Sonic in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, he briefly kisses a portrait of Robotnik. Once he's done the portrait has an expression of disgust.
  • Big City Greens: The B-plot has the girl Greens and Remy play a child's game called One-O, given that it was the only thing of Bill's destructive items that seemed to be safe. By first glance, the front of the box depicts a family and their dog playing the game and having a good time, but when Remy looks at it after the Greens begin to get in a war over the rules, the faces of the family on the box suddenly change into angry, feuding expressions, realizing how destructive the game is and it's supposed to cause feuds.
  • Education for Death: A Nazi-run classroom is shown to have smiling portraits of Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring and Joseph Goebbels hanging on the walls. When Hans gets in trouble for expressing sympathy for a rabbit that got killed by a fox, he looks up and sees their faces staring down at him in disapproval. Finally, after Hans tearfully rescinds his answer and denounces the rabbit as a weak coward that deserved to die, the Hitler portrait is smiling once again and winks at the audience.
  • The Loud House: At the very end of the episode "Spell it Out", Lucy looks at the picture of her Great Grandma Harriet in her youth and thanks her; once she leaves, lightning flashes to blot out the screen a bit and Harriet's expression changes from frowning to a smile.
  • Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol: While the transforming door knocker is par the course, after the ghostly visitations end and Scrooge!Magoo leaves to visit the Cratchit house, the door knocker winks at the audience.
  • Early villainess Hexadecimal in ReBoot had a drama mask for a face, which could change expressions, but only when offscreen. Hex could invoke this by passing her hand in front of her face.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "Home Sweet Pineapple", after SpongeBob's pineapple is destroyed by nematodes and he considers moving back in with his parents, it cuts to a portrait of Mr. and Mrs. SquarePants smiling. Then when Patrick denies it, the picture is seen again, only this time the parents are frowning.
    • In "Sentimental Sponge", SpongeBob uses Gary to clean a portrait of an old-looking Patrick, causing it to change to one of him smiling and looking fully clean.
  • VeggieTales:
    • In one episode, Larry the Cucumber has a paper bag mask which changes expressions based on the wearer's expression. Bob the Tomato notices it, and is very freaked out by it. It is later hinted that the mask doesn't change because of the wearer's emotions, but the wearer's emotions change because of the mask.
    • This also happens in the first episode. Junior stares at his family photo before his mum, dad and him (in the photo) turn into franken-asparaguses causing Junior to run up the stairs and into his room.
  • In the Tex Avery cartoon Who Killed Who?, a police detective looks inside a dark room with a flashlight. The light passes a picture of a woman in a swimsuit and fur coat. He quickly returns to it for a second look, but now the woman has covered herself up with the coat.

  • The queue of The Haunted Mansion has something like this. In the queue of the Walt Disney World version, there is a headstone with the engraving of a woman's face. Every so often, the woman's (Madame Leota) eyes will open, dart around for a few seconds, and then close. The queue also contains several paintings that morph into a different painting, such as a painting of a woman morphing into a tiger.
    • There's also the stretching gallery, where the paintings grow to reveal more of the scene, and the Ghostly Ball sequence, which has a pair of pictures of two duelists, back to back, that come to life, turn, and shoot each other.
    • Several wedding portraits in the attic scene serve a purpose in warning the guests of the ghostly bride, Constance Hatchaway. If you look at them long enough, you can see her grooms' heads starting to disappear, alluding to how they were killed.
  • The allegedly cursed painting "The Hands Resist Him" allegedly had the people in the paintings frown, and one person even allegedly pulled out a gun.
  • The Haw Branch Plantation in Amelia, Virginia, long rumored to be haunted, features the portrait of a young woman named Florence Wright. The portrait, which was originally painted with pastel colors, was kept in storage for twenty years, and when taken out was said to have seemingly changed color to a faded, charcoal-like gray. After the portrait was placed above the fireplace in the library, its color gradually returned. A psychic later claimed that the portrait had been inhabited by a spirit, presumably Wright’s, and that she restored its color after it was finally put in a place she liked.
  • Religious figurines and paintings are often accused of crying or bleeding when no one is looking.
  • Party City, Walgreen's, and other stores sell these at Halloween, thanks to the magic of lenticular printing.
  • An '80s issue of National Geographic (the December 1988 issue, to be exact) had a variation on this. Its holographic cover had a whole globe on it, but when you tilted it slightly, the globe had bits broken out of it, symbolizing the Earth as fragile and in need of protection. Not exactly creepy, but definitely deeply unsettling.
  • On this very site In the forums for Halloween 2012, a system was implemented for the forum avatars that had this effect. When first viewed the avatar pictures are normal, but when you scroll offscreen then return to them, the picture is replaced with a random picture of something scary. Among these include a Weeping Angel, demonic Regan, the Slender Man, and Cthulhu. There were also a few humorous ones like a sprite of Cofagrigus and a Weeping Angel with a "ಠ_ಠ" smiley for a face. It was popular enough to inspire the special image for this very page.

That's it, scroll right down. You need to go to the very bottom of the page. Got it? Now then, back up. Good. Look closely at the Mona Lisa. Notice anything?


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Weeping Angel Artwork, Creepy Changing Portrait


Thomas and the Magic Railroad

Sorry Mr. Conductor, but fiddling with the Fat Controller's hat is no laughing matter.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / CreepyChangingPainting

Media sources: