People are fascinated by scary urban legends because they often highlight some of the worst aspects of humanity in a format that is just as entertaining as a beloved ghost story or other paranormal activity. The very best scary urban legends contain basic story-lines seemingly plausible on the surface, yet freaky enough to keep people engaged. In some cases, people truly believe in these myths and spread them around as if they were fact instead of fiction. It’s very common to hear people claim that a friend of a friend actually knows someone within the story; attempting to convince you the urban legend actually originated from a credible news story.
In a few situations, these cautionary tales have been inspired in some way by real-life events but, as a rule of thumb, all of the best urban legends are primarily fictional with minor details tweaked to suit each particular audience. Telling any of the following 10 stories at your next Halloween party will definitely capture attention and you might even be able to convince a few people that your story actually happened. Just remember, it happened to a friend of a friend.
10 Creepy Urban Legends
1. The Russian Sleep Experiment – This urban legend has a complete recipe for success. For starters, it’s based in the 1940s, which already makes it difficult for people to easily disprove, and it features enemy forces many people are still afraid of. According to this legend, a team of Russian researchers made the decision to offer five prison inmates the opportunity to participate in a 30-day experiment in exchange for gaining their freedom.
These individuals were locked inside of an airtight chamber and given a highly experimental stimulant gas so researchers could closely observe the effects of dealing with an extended period of sleep deprivation. The prisoners are said to have responded fairly well for the first four days but it should not be surprising to anyone that being sleep deprived past this point would cause psychological and physical issues.
It’s hard to know if people would truly began screaming, running frantically and using their own feces to block a two-way observation mirror after nine days without sleep but it definitely seems improbable the researchers would have waited for three more days to pass before making the decision to open the chamber. The story gets even more convoluted when the prisoners are offered the opportunity to escape the chamber but decline.
According to legend, the researchers ended up waiting a full 15 days before finally opening the chamber. They found one man dead and four others extremely mutilated from self-inflicted wounds. More disturbingly, people who tell this tale claim the four survivors laughed while their wounds were stitched and were ultimately slaughtered by the chief researcher. He too was driven mad by his test subjects’ endless taunting that they had become the madness lurking inside all men.
2. The Call is Coming from Inside the House – This popular urban legend has been passed around since the 1960s and traditionally involves a teenage babysitter being terrorized while watching three children. In fact, the story is so well-known it has inspired movies and television shows. The basic plot involves a teenager receiving a series of ominous sounding phone calls from an individual who keeps asking her if she has checked on the children. At first, the police are reluctant to assist her because no actual threats have been made. However, they eventually consent to trace the next call the babysitter receives. Sure enough, when they next call comes in, the police trace it and determine the call’s actually coming from inside the house and they urge the teenager to leave immediately. Within a few minutes, a police officer shows up to save the day. Unfortunately, the officer is too late to protect the three children who have already been mercilessly slaughtered in their bedrooms.
3. The Man with a Hook for a Hand – This is another classic urban legend dating back to at least the 1950s. The story was created to warn teenagers about the danger of premarital sex and was even published in the Dear Abby column in 1960. The basic plot involves two teenagers having a make-out session at a place known as Lovers’ Lane. Just when things are getting hot and heavy (no pun intended), a news bulletin interrupts the radio broadcast warning that a murderous madman with a hook for a hand has escaped from an insane asylum inconveniently located only half a mile away.
Naturally, the girl asks the boy to take her home but he ignores her initial pleas and instead locks the car doors; reassuring her everything is okay. The girl is unconvinced and is determination to leave so the boy eventually relents and takes her home. After the girl steps out of the car, she begins screaming in an uncontrollable manner. Concerned, her boyfriend runs around to her side of the vehicle to find out why she is so frightened. A bloody hook is hanging from the door handle, and they both realize how close they came to becoming the murderer’s latest victims.
4. The Clown Statue – Another variation on the intruder inside the house who terrorizes the babysitter can be found within the urban legend of the clown statue. The story says a teenager is hired to babysit for an extremely affluent family who own a very large house with a lot of rooms. After the teenager puts the children to sleep, she contacts their father and asks if she can have permission to watch TV in a different room other than the one that she was told to stay in. When asked why, the babysitter explains that a clown statue is extremely creepy and she would prefer not to be in the same room with it. The father urges her to grab the kids, go to the neighbor’s house and call 911; refusing to give her any more details until she has completed the first two steps of this task.
After the babysitter and children are safely secured next door, the father tells her they do not have a clown statue and he had ignored previous claims by his children that they had seen a clown in the house. When the police arrive, they discover a midget dressed as a clown has been staying in the enormous house for several weeks. Even more disturbing is the revelation this man is a sexual pervert who had deviant intentions toward the babysitter and the children.
5. Dorm Room Murder – Two female college dorm mates are featured in this legend which seems to make a point that having fun is sometimes more important than studying. The night before a big midterm, the more studious of the two girls made the decision to stay home and study while her dorm mate went to a huge party. The partier came back at around 2 a.m. and quietly crept into bed without turning on the lights so she wouldn’t wake up her more serious minded friend. However, the next morning she was shocked to find the straight ‘A’ student still asleep. When she investigated, she discovered her dorm mate had been murdered and the girl’s blood had been used to write a message on the wall:
“Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the lights?”
6. Killer in the Backseat – This urban legend is so well-known many people believe it’s actually real. However, it’s entirely possible this legend was inspired by a real-life event which took place in New York City in 1964. There are a couple of variations often passed around about this story but the most popular one features a woman driving home alone, late at night, and feeling terrorized by the actions of another motorist who keeps flashing his lights, honking his horn and trying to get her to pull over.
Eventually, the woman makes it home and decides she’s going to attempt to run into her house and call 911 before the other motorist reaches her. She’s shocked when the man who has been chasing her screams at her to lock her door and call the police. When an officer finally arrives on the scene, he sees a silhouette of a man holding a knife inside of the woman’s backseat. The motorist who had been chasing the woman had seen the same thing when his vehicle’s headlights illuminated her backseat and he followed her in an attempt to save her life.
7. The Body Under the Bed – Unlike most urban legends, there are actually several news stories about similar incidents but none of them contain all of the same so-called facts passed around whenever this particular story is told. As the story is told, a honeymooning couple in Las Vegas was disturbed by an awful odor inside their hotel room and complained to the front desk. The couple was offered a free lunch and housecleaning but this didn’t take care of the problem.
Frustrated, the man complained again and housekeeping once again cleaned everything. Unfortunately, the smell continued to persist, so the man removed the top mattress of the bed in an attempt to find the source of the smell. This is when the dead body stuffed inside the box spring was revealed, and the couple ran out of the room.
8. Buried Alive – This legend is based in a time period before embalming fluid was used to prepare the deceased for burial. The person who tells this story typically states that even though their great-great grandmother passed away, their great-great grandfather refused to believe it and insisted she was still alive. Despite the husband’s pleas, the doctor and other family members moved forward with burial preparations and the woman’s coffin was placed inside a grave.
For the next few nights, the distraught widower had vivid dreams his wife was trying to claw her way out of the coffin because she had been buried alive. After insisting this might actually be real, the doctor decided to dig up the coffin in order to set the man’s mind at ease. Instead, the doctor was horrified to discover several claw marks on the inside of the coffin indicating they had actually buried the woman alive; ultimately killing her by suffocation.
9. The Choking Dog – According to this popular legend which has been circulated for at least 30 years, a large dog, typically a Doberman, was found choking when its intoxicated owners returned home from a night of clubbing. The man in the story is too drunk to do anything to save the dog’s life but the woman is able to get her pet to a veterinarian whom she is personal friends with. Instead of staying with the dog, the woman returns home to attend to her husband.
Approximately 30 minutes later, the veterinarian calls the woman and urges her to get out of the house and call the police. After the police arrive, they do a quick search of the premises and find a thief missing one finger passed out from blood loss in one of the upstairs bedrooms. The Doberman had been choking on the finger that he bit off of the intruder.
10. Bloody Mary – Teenage girls have been scaring each other with this myth for decades. Reportedly, chanting the name Bloody Mary into a mirror multiple times will cause a terrifying female face to appear, invariably causing everyone to scream and run out of the bathroom. In some versions of this story, a brave girl makes the decision to try to call on Bloody Mary on her own which almost always leads to deadly consequences. The legend of Bloody Mary maintains she causes blood to pour out of the bathroom faucets until she is able to materialize and murder the person who was unlucky enough to have made the decision to find out whether or not urban legends are actually real.
What about you? Do you have any scary urban legends you’d like to add to this list? If so, please post them in the comments below, we’d love to read them.
Now that you’ve got the spooky story department covered; check out our list of favorite Halloween night movies to place the coup de grace on your night.