20 Terrifying Torture Devices That Will Give You the Creeps
Humans can be quite sadistic. Throughout the centuries humankind has come up with many inventive ways to torture people. Many of these creations came about during medieval times. Incredibly, at one point in time torture was legal. It was seen as an appropriate way to punish people for breaking the law or those who were witches. It then became widely used as a way of getting information out of people, especially during the many wars that took place during the Middle Ages. These days torture is frowned upon, even though it is still used by many countries, including America. While the torture devices may have changed, they are still no less terrifying.
Torture devices such as the rack and the iron chair might not be in use, but they have been replaced by waterboarding and music torture (it is much worse than it sounds). In an attempt to shed more light on these barbaric methods of information gathering and punishment, here are 20 terrifying torture devices that will give you the creeps.
1. The Rack
If you’ve ever watched a movie set in the Middle Ages and there’s been a torture scene, there’s a good chance it involved a torture rack. Arguably the most famous medieval torture device, the rack was a wooden bench with wrist and ankle straps. Once the victim was strapped down, the roller at one end (sometimes both) was pulled by a lever, stretching either the arms, legs, or both.
This was a nasty and painful torture device that often resulted in arms and legs being pulled out of their sockets. Shoulders and knees would be dislocated and bones snapped. Sometimes those doing the torturing would also tear out fingers and toenails or burn the soles of the victim’s feet. Horrible stuff.
Guy Fawkes is one of the most famous people who was believed to be put on the racks. While popular throughout Greek and British history, the last known use of the rack was by the Russians in the 18th century.
2. Brazen Bull
This Greek torture device was designed in the shape of a bull, hence its name. The victim was locked inside the bull and a fire was set underneath. The flames of the fire would heat the metal bull and roast the poor unfortunate soul inside to death. Legends say that an acoustic device was attached to the bull that converted the victim’s screams into sounds of a bull. It’s safe to say the Greeks had some fucked up ideas.
The story behind the brazen bull comes from a story in Bibliotheca Historical by Diodorus Siculus. Perilaus of Athens built the bull for Phalaris, the tyrant of Akragas, Sicily. Expecting a reward for his efforts, Perilaus was tricked into getting inside the bull where he was almost cooked alive. But before he died, Perilaus was released from the brazen bull. The real kicker came when he was then thrown off a cliff to his death.
A favorite of the American armed forces, waterboarding was a water torture that sounds horrible. While the American government has always claimed torture was a last option, it appears to be much more prevalent than many believed. The aim of waterboarding was to make the victim or prisoner feel like they were drowning. A piece of cloth was placed over the mouth and then water was poured onto the cloth. The whole experience was meant to feel like you were drowning. Waterboarding could cause several serious injuries and even death if the water was continuously poured down someone’s throat.
Regarded as one of the more severe tortures, it has been used throughout the centuries, from the Spanish Inquisition and the Vietnam war to the Algerian War and World War II. It become public knowledge when President Barrack Obama outlawed the torture, despite it helping with the manhunt and eventual death of Osama Bin Laden.
4. Breast Ripper
This medieval torture device was as painful as it sounds. Also known as Iron Spider or simply The Spider, this primitive device was heated before being used to tear off a women’s breast. It was mainly used as a form of punishment for women who had cheated on their husbands. The breast ripper was certainly a very crude-looking torture device, resembling a pair of metal tongs. That said, you wouldn’t want it anywhere near your breasts if you were a woman as the damage it can do was terrible.
5. Judas Cradle
This one was brutal. Invented by the Romans and commonly used by the Spanish throughout the 16th century, the Judas cradle was an archaic form of medieval torture. The victim was restrained over a chair with a pyramid-shaped seat. They were then slowly lowered onto the Judas cradle, with the point of the pyramid slowly entering either the anus or vagina. This could go on for days and often resulted in death due to septic shock caused by the pyramid, as it was never washed.
The Judas cradle was a torture instrument used mainly for religious purposes as a way to gain a confession. It was another medieval torture device that’s thankfully not in use anymore.
6. Tucker Telephone
This inhumane torture method was invented in the 60s by Dr. A. E. Rollins, the resident physician at the Tucker State Prison Farm, Arkansas. It was a crank telephone containing a generator with two wires. One would be attached to the inmate’s big toe and the other to the area Rollins wished to electrocute. Then the Tucker telephone was cranked and electricity would shoot through the victim’s body.
The end result was often unconsciousness, while reports of organ damage and mental issues were also noted. While it was outlawed in 1968, it was believed that American soldiers used a version of the Tucker telephone during the Vietnam War to torture prisoners for information.
7. Iron Chair
There have been many different variations of this horrible torture device over the centuries. The iron chair originated during the middle ages and was a simple metal chair that a person would be strapped into. The chair would then be pushed closer and closer towards a roaring fire. The idea was to scare the victim into a confession. It was much more of a psychological torture device as opposed to other examples on this list. The victim was rarely pushed into the flames or set on fire.
Variations of the chair also contained 500-1,500 spikes to add to this nightmare experience. This way the victim would already be in pain before the heat of the flames began to have an impact, making them more likely to talk sooner.
8. Tongue Tearer
This method of torture is very similar to the breast ripper. Instead of ripping off a women’s breast, it was used to tear out someone’s tongue. The poor soul who suffered this torture had their mouth forced open as the prong-type tongue tearer was placed around the tongue. You know what happened next.
This was another very primitive torture device that was also quite successful at getting the job done. Some versions of the tongue tearer also had spikes so that the tongue would be shredded as it was pulled from the victim’s mouth.
9. Pear of Anguish
The name of this torture device should be enough to make anyone worried about what it involves. Also known as choke pear or mouth pear, the pear of anguish was a metal device shaped like a pear. The pear part was made up of sections of metal that could open up like a flower blooming. The device was shoved into a person’s mouth, vagina, or anus and then opened, causing great pain or suffocation, depending on what orifice it was forced into. Although there are examples of the pear of anguish, many experts question whether it was a plausible torture device.
10. Scavenger’s Daughter
The scavenger’s daughter was invented during the reign of King Henry VIII. It was a torture device often used on prisoners who ended up in the torture chamber in the Tower of London. It was an A-shaped frame that a person would be attached to. The metal rack could then be folded in different ways, causing the body to bend at strange angles, causing much pain.
Many famous prisoners of the Tower of London underwent this form of torture, including English Catholic priest Thomas Cottam and Irishman Thomas Miagh.
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11. Head Crusher
The head crusher was another torture device that doesn’t leave much to the imagination. A metal cap was placed over the victim’s head while a metal plate was positioned under the chin. As the handle on the side of the device was turned, the metal plate would slowly push the chin up into the metal cap. The pain was said to be excruciating as the head was slowly crushed. Even if someone survived, the long-lasting damage could be fatal. Bones were crushed and sometimes a victim’s eyeballs would pop out due to the pressure.
12. Rat Torture
If you have seen the action flick 2 Fast 2 Furious you might have an idea about this torture. Rats were placed on a person’s stomach and some form of metal bowl was put over them to trap them. The bowl was then heated, causing the rats to scratch at the skin to try and escape. While it was first noted during the 16th century, many South American military dictatorships were believed to have used this form of torture during the 70s and 80s.
13. Crocodile Shears
Crocodile shears were similar to a pair of scissors. Made up of two long metal shears, when closed together they created a circular tube. The inside of the tube was lined with spikes. The crocodile shears were heated in a fire before being applied to a male’s penis and clamped shut. This would first burn the penis and also pierce it. If that was bad enough, most of the time the torturer would then rip the crocodile shears away from the penis, severely mutilating it, or worse, ripping it right off.
This torture was usually reserved for those who had tried to assassinate a king or queen during the Middle Ages. If the victim didn’t die within a few hours from blood loss, many would perish from an infection that festered at the site of the torture.
14. Knee Splitter
This unpleasant torture technique from medieval times was used during the Spanish Inquisition. It was basically a clamp with two metal rods that had spikes attached. A person’s knee was put between the two metal rods and then the handle was turned and the two rods crushed the knee. Although it was called the knee splitter, this torture device was used on other parts of the body to devastating effect.
15. Breaking Wheel
This is another basic method of torture that proved very effective. Used by many European countries, the breaking wheel was a torture usually inflicted upon murderers and robbers. Often performed in public to humiliate the victim, the breaking wheel was another painful method of torture. The criminal would be strapped down and the wheel dropped on various parts of their body to break their bones. Then the body would be tied to the wheel and erected like a crucifix. The executioner would either torture them some more, behead the victim, or throw the wheel with the attached body into a fire.
16. Cat O’ Nine Tails
Here is one form of punishment that rarely resulted in death but would cause the victim extreme amounts of pain. The cat o’ nine tails was made up of nine chords of knotted rope attached to a handle. It was used as a whip on a victim’s back, ripping open the skin and causing lots of anguish.
It was often used by the Royal Navy and British Army as a form of corporal punishment. While it has been outlawed in most countries, there are believed to be a few that still carry out a flogging now and then.
17. Coffin Torture
Another favorite method of torture from medieval times was the coffin torture. The poor victim first had the embarrassment of being stripped naked before being placed in a cage roughly the same size as their body. This meant they couldn’t stand and were forced to sit uncomfortably in the cage. The cage was then hung somewhere publicly to warn other people to abide by the laws. The person was usually left in the cage to die, which came about due to dehydration. Once dead, the body remained in the cage where the birds would pick at the bones. Nice.
18. Scold’s Bride
Scold’s bride was another psychological torture mainly inflicted upon women. It was an iron mask that was worn over the face that had a bridle-bit that would slip into the mouth to stop the person from talking. While more uncomfortable than painful, the scold’s bride was a humiliating torture. Victims were often paraded about the streets while wearing the muzzle, and some even had a bell attached so people would know when they were coming.
19. Cold Cell
This was a method of torture favored by the CIA. The prisoner was placed in a small cell where the air conditioner was turned on full blast. This could be for a couple of hours, a few days, or even months on end. It was rumored this torture technique was experienced by Viet Cong officer Vhuen Van Tai. Captured during the Vietnam War, he was placed in a windowless cell where the air conditioner was facing him and turned up to the coldest setting. But unlike many who experienced this torture for short periods, Tai was believed to have spent four straight years being stuck in a cold cell.
20. Music Torture
This one might sound harmless, but can you imagine listening to Nickleback non-stop for days on end? Music torture is rather simple; a prisoner is subjected to the same song or genre of music over and over for hours at a time. The type of music varies from death metal to pop hits from the likes of Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys. It’s enough to make anyone want to give in and admit to the crimes they committed.
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