The 5 Scariest Urban Legends

The Urban Legend can have its lineage traced all the way back to the earliest form of storytelling, when terrifying tales were traded around fires, either as a warning or for mere entertainment. The Urban Legend is a contemporary legend, a modern form of folklore or mythology which reflects the era’s fears or trepidations. While originally, like the original talks of folklore, they were passed around by word of mouth, modern technology has seen the distribution of tales taken on by the new forms of communication and media. The latest of these being used are the chain-email and the use of various social networking sites, which have been able to add an extra fear dynamic in the added clause that if the note is not forwarded to a certain number of people, some form of paranormal revenge will befall the ill-fated reader.

Most Urban Legends change over time and have variations depending on where it is told. They usually have happened to a ‘friend of a friend’, giving it proximity and removing that feeling of being remote to the story, adding that extra fear factor. They are the scourge of the playgrounds and the invader of the wine fuelled dinner party. They are the tale of that misfortunate, distant acquaintance. They are the always terrifying Urban Legends.

The Urban Legend can have its lineage traced all the way back to the earliest form of storytelling, when terrifying tales were traded around fires, either as a warning or for mere entertainment. The Urban Legend is a contemporary legend, a modern form of folklore or mythology which reflects the era’s fears or trepidations. While originally, like the original talks of folklore, they were passed around by word of mouth, modern technology has seen the distribution of tales taken on by the new forms of communication and media. The latest of these being used are the chain-email and the use of various social networking sites, which have been able to add an extra fear dynamic in the added clause that if the note is not forwarded to a certain number of people, some form of paranormal revenge will befall the ill-fated reader.

Most Urban Legends change over time and have variations depending on where it is told. They usually have happened to a ‘friend of a friend’, giving it proximity and removing that feeling of being remote to the story, adding that extra fear factor. They are the scourge of the playgrounds and the invader of the wine fuelled dinner party. They are the tale of that misfortunate, distant acquaintance. They are the always terrifying Urban Legends.

Bloody Mary

01

LINK


As told on the Internet, Feb. 16, 1994:

“When I was about 9 years old, I went to a friend’s for a birthday/slumber party. There were about 10 other girls there. About midnight, we decided to play Mary Worth. Some of us had never heard of this so one of the girls told the story.

Mary Worth lived a long time ago. She was a very beautiful young girl. One day she had a terrible accident that left her face so disfigured that nobody would look at her. She had not been allowed to see her own reflection after this accident for fear that she would lose her mind. Before this, she had spent long hours admiring her beauty in her bedroom mirror.

One night, after everyone had gone to bed, unable to fight the curiosity any longer, she crept into a room that had a mirror. As soon as she saw her face, she broke down into terrible screams and sobs. It was at this moment that she was so heartbroken and wanted her old reflection back, which she walked into the mirror to find it, vowing to disfigure anybody that came looking for her in the mirror.

After hearing this story, which was told very scarily, we decided to turn out all of the lights and try it. We all huddled around the mirror and starting repeating “Mary Worth, Mary Worth, I believe in Mary Worth”. About the seventh time we said it one of the girls that was in front of the mirror started screaming and trying to push her way back away from the mirror. She was screaming so loud that my friend’s mom came running into the room. She quickly turned on the lights and found this girl huddled in the corner screaming. She turned her around to see what the problem and saw these long fingernail scratches running down her right cheek. I will never forget her face as long as I live!!”

A tale that makes the audience fears their own reflection. It always comes down the old adage of ‘curiosity killed the cat’. There is something inherently scary about the idea of something coming out of a mirror or television screen, like it is some parallel world, or perhaps a world that is the opposite to ours, as used by such films as The Ring. The idea of an opposite, parallel universe gives us our closest representation of hell. Bloody Mary brings forth the idea that the evil spirits of the world are captured within the glass that capture our own images, and creates the fear that not only they can be called forth into our world, but that perhaps, after death, we will find ourselves trapped behind the glass.

The Body in the Bed

02

LINK

As told by Autumn Murphy…


“A man and woman went to Las Vegas for their honeymoon, and checked into a suite at a hotel. When they got to their room they both detected a bad odour. The husband called down to the front desk and asked to speak to the manager. He explained that the room smelled very bad and they would like another suite. The manager apologized and told the man that they were all booked because of a convention. He offered to send them to a restaurant of their choice for lunch compliments of the hotel and said he was going to send a maid up to their room to clean and to try and get rid of the odour.

After a nice lunch the couple went back to their room. When they walked in they could both still smell the same odour. Again the husband called the front desk and told the manager that the room still smelled really bad. The manager told the man that they would try and find a suite at another hotel. He called every hotel on the strip, but every hotel was sold out because of the convention. The manager told the couple that they couldn’t find them a room anywhere, but they would try and clean the room again. The couple wanted to see the sights and do a little gambling anyway, so they said they would give them two hours to clean and then they would be back.

When the couple had left, the manager and all of housekeeping went to the room to try and find what was making the room smell so bad. They searched the entire room and found nothing, so the maids changed the sheets, changed the towels, took down the curtains and put new ones up, cleaned the carpet and cleaned the suite again using the strongest cleaning products they had. The couple came back two hours later to find the room still had a bad odour. The husband was so angry at this point, he decided to find whatever this smell was himself. So he started tearing the entire suite apart himself.”
“As he pulled the top mattress off the box spring he found a dead body of a woman.”

This has to be counted as one of the most terrifying of the Urban Legends because it is one of the only of the creepy crop that actually has factual validation. Although there are no incidents that mirror this one exactly (none having been reported in Vegas), there have been numerous reports of stories similar to this appearing in newspapers around America.

In 1999, the Burgen Record reports of an incident of two German tourists, who had complained of a terrible, rancid smell in their room. Despite complaining, the couple ended up staying the night, sleeping above the decomposing corpse of a Saul Hernandez, 64, who was found in a similar hiding place as the body in the Urban Legend in the Burgundy Motor Inn in Atlantic City, another American gambling Mecca.
The most recent story paralleling the Body in the Bed was reported in March, 2010 in Memphis. ABC Eyewitness News reported:

“On March 15th, investigators were called back to room 222 at the Budget Inn, where the body of Sony Millbrook was found under the bed. Police say she was found inside the metal box frame that sits directly on the floor after someone reported smelling a strange odor. The box springs and mattress fit into the top of the bed frame.

Room 222, according to investigators, had been rented 5 times and cleaned many times by the hotel staff since the day Millbrook was reported missing.
Homicide investigators say Millbrook appears to have been murdered.”

It is the terrifying truth behind the metropolitan myth that makes this one of the scariest Urban Legends being told today.

The Clown Statue

03

LINK

“I have this friend of a friend who used to babysit as a teenager. Her clients were pretty wealthy and live in this absolutely huge house out near the country, on the outskirts of the town they live in. I think she’s a doctor and he’s a partner at some law firm, so we are talking huge income. It’s really nice out there, peaceful, but a bit out of the way.

The house is a bit ridiculous; an unbelievable number of rooms. You can easily get lost in the place. They’re a bit anal, especially about the house. They have a large number of inherited family heirlooms lying around the place, and the father is quite the ‘no nonsense’ father, if you know what I mean?

Anyway, this one night they go out for some posh-do dinner party and leave this girl to look after the kids. As I said, he’s pretty anal and doesn’t want her wandering around the house where she might damage some antiquated piece of armour or whatever, so he says she has to stay in this one reception room. It has a kitchen attached to it and has this huge screen TV, so it’s fully decked out to keep her entertained.
So they leave and, being a strict household, they soon obediently go to bed. She takes up residence in this specially designated room and starts watching TV, making herself a snack and what not. Before long she starts to feel uncomfortable. There, in the corner of the room, is this ugly, bulky clown statue. It looks like some grotesque antique piece from the 20’s or around that period and it’s all grimy, covered in what looks like oil.
She can’t help getting the feeling it’s watching her. It’s been said that we have this inbuilt ability to sense being watched, but it is not uncommon for it to play tricks on you. She tried to ignore it, but she can’t shake the sense that those eyes are burning into her. In the end she relents and takes her phone to the toilet in the hall outside. In her head she was telling herself that she’s insane, thinking the statue can hear her, what a ridiculous thought, but she leaves anyway.

‘Hey. It’s Sarah. Look, I’m really sorry to call you up like this but that clown statue you have in the reception room, it’s really making me uncomfortable. Would it be ok to move to another room or just stick a blanket over the thing of something?’

After a long pause he replies.

‘Okay Sarah, I need you to get the children from the room, get them into your car and take them to the nearest house. When you are there, call the police.’
I think it’s safe to say after hearing ‘call the police’ you aren’t about to ask questions. She grabbed the kids and ran.

It turns out the kids had complained of a clown had been watching them sleep in their room. The father put it down to silly stories and had basically disregarded what they had said until the babysitter had seen the thing too. Apparently a Psychiatric Unit had closed down recently in the area and not everyone had stable places to go. The story goes that the police seemed to try and hide their concern, though not very well after hearing the mention of a clown costume before heading over to the house. After a thorough search of the building, they failed to find the clown. It turns out that the patient had been treated for vivid and dangerous fantasies prior to release, but had not been able to complete his course before the closure of the unit.
They didn’t catch him.”

The fear of clowns, or Coulrophobia, is a relatively widespread fear, and relates back to the famous Stephen King novel, It, in which seven children are terrorized by an entity that mainly appears in the form of ‘Pennywise the Dancing Clown.’ The twisted smiles and make up of clowns have come so much more to represent twisted and insane evil over the innocent child’s entertainer in recent years, most famously in Batman’s arch-nemesis, the psychopathic Joker. It is perhaps the mask and facade of innocence that the make-up represents that makes the clown so scary.
There is also the link with pedophilia or sexual assault. This Urban Legend is terrifying for babysitters, playing on the fear of intruders, both as the invader that they are supposed to protect the children from, as well as being a potential threat to the babysitter herself. There are variations of the tale that both pose most threat to the children, or to the sitter. Either way, this is an Urban Legend that has haunted babysitters for years and deserves a place as one of the scariest of the Urban Legends.

The Killer in the Backseat

04

LINK

“A woman leaves her work late, realising that she has nothing for breakfast in the morning she stops off at a garage on the way home to pick up some supplies before heading home. The job that the woman does sometimes calls for her to put in long hours of overtime and by the time she leaves work the road is pretty deserted. After a stretch of encountering no cars on the road, a car comes up quite fast behind her. It shines its indicator before starting to pull out from behind her, looking as if it is going to overtake before hitting the breaks and swerving back in behind her.

The driver of the other car starts to flash its lights crazily behind her, dazzling her vision somewhat. In a panic, she starts to speed up. Desperately, she reaches for her phone, but at the speed she’s going she’s scared that she won’t be able to handle the car if she tries to make the call.

The driver behind starts to become more erratic, flashing their lights even more and driving right up behind her. He even ends up bumping her from behind several times, which causes her to lose her phone. She speeds home, jumping every red light, which the car behind does to. Finally reaching her house she springs out of her car and runs for the front door just as the other car come careening into the drive behind her.
Just as she puts her key into the door the driver of the other car screams.

‘For God’s sake, lock the car door!’
Without thinking, she does it. Just as the electronic lock clicks, she sees the face of a man materialise at the window of the back seat, staring intently at her and banging lightly on the window.”

This tale easily deserves its place as one of the scariest of the Urban Legends. It has led countless people to check their backseats every time they drive at night (including me). The interesting moral to the story is that it isn’t always the most obvious source of fear that actually presents you with danger.

There is another common variant that sees a creepy looking petrol station attendant trying to coax the driver out of the car. It is a tale designed to make people re-evaluate their prejudiced and preconceptions, as the attendant that causes so much fear is actually the individual trying to save the driver in an incredibly delicate and volatile situation.

The basic bottom line is the hidden fear. You feel safe locked in your car and the danger always lies outside. As long as you lock yourself in, you are safe from any threats. This flips this common conception on its head, seeing the victim locking themselves in with the danger.

Humans Can Lick, Too

05

LINK

Email example as circulated in May 2001:
Subj: DON’T DELETE THIS!!! (it scared the crap outta me)

“Once there was a beautiful young girl who lived in a small town just south of Farmersburg. Her parents had to go to town for a while, so they left their daughter home alone, but protected by her dog, which was a very large collie. The parents told the girl to lock all the windows and doors after they had left. And at about 8:00pm the parents went to town. So doing what she was told the girl shut and locked every window and every door. But there was one window in the basement that would not close completely.”

“Trying as best as she could she finally got the window shut, but it would not lock. So she left the window, and went back upstairs. But just to make sure that no one could get in, she put the dead-bolt lock on the basement door.”

“Then she sat down had some dinner and decided to go to sleep for the night. Settling down to sleep at about 12:00 she snuggled up with the dog and fell asleep.”

“But at one point, she suddenly woke up. She turned and looked at the clock…it was 2:30. She snuggled down again wondering what had woken her…..when she heard a noise. It was a dripping sound. She thought that she had left the water running, and now it was dripping into the drain of her sink. So thinking it was no big deal she decided to go back to sleep.”

“But she felt nervous so she reached her hand over the edge of her bed, and let the dog lick her hand for reassurance that he would protect her. Again at about 3:45 she woke up hearing dripping. She was slightly angry now but went back to sleep anyway. Again she reached down and let the dog lick her hand. Then she fell back to sleep.”

“At 6:52 the girl decided that she had had enough…she got up just in time to see her parents were pulling up to the house. “Good,” she thought. “Now somebody can fix the sink…’cause I know I didn’t leave it running.” She walked to the bathroom and there was the collie dog, skinned and hung up on the curtain rod. The noise she heard was its blood dripping into a puddle on the floor. The girl screamed and ran to her bedroom to get a weapon, in case someone was still in the house…..and there on the floor, next to her bed she saw a small note, written in blood, saying: HUMANS CAN LICK TOO MY BEAUTIFUL.”

“Now it is time for you to lock all the windows and doors. This letter is the only chain letter that is true. This did happen many years ago, and the man who killed the dog was never caught. If you delete this letter you will suffer the same fate as the girl in the story did, years after the dog was killed. She was raped and killed in the same town and same house as the dog. Do not dismiss this letter, because if you do, a horrible thing will become of you, everyone will soon know your name. But only because it will be the headline of your local newspaper for a long time. It will read… Small Town Murder On The Loose! You cannot chance your luck on a chain letter so serious as this. Give up your chance to send this letter to 23 people and you will be giving up your chance to live. You were warned. I hope that I will not see any murder stories in the papers anytime soon. And now I bid you a good day. And one more thing… you only have 23 minutes… sorry.”

This is a perfect example of the evolution of the Urban Legend that has developed the added requirement of action on the behalf of the reader. It has proved a popular phenomenon amongst users of the social networking sites, and has been a popular chain email, mainly amongst the younger users who believe that not sending on a piece of electronic is going to end in your death.

The interesting thing about this phenomenon is its similarity to the Nightmare on Elm Street films. That if something is not performed then the killer will come back in some supernatural form to get a new victim. It plays into all the factors that surround the killer of the film, those of paedophilia and preying on child victims, a common theme amongst the scariest of these metropolitan myths. Most of these chains warm that the attack will come at night, while you sleep. Sound familiar?

With media and technology changing so quickly it will be interesting to see the next step that the Urban Legend will take and what additions will be added to make them all that more truly terrifying.

Author: David Crudge Copyrighted © paranormalhaze.com

20 Responses to “The 5 Scariest Urban Legends”

  1. Its rubbish

  2. Yeah none of is even close to real.

  3. humans can lick too was so scary i loved it

  4. That One creeped the freaknn crap outta me!! I think thats the one im going to choose to tell in my drama class! Its gonna be dark in there so it will be pretty creepy!!

  5. That is not the story of bloody Mary. The story goes; There once was a young beautiful girl, and one day she was kidnapped and buried alive in woods. She tried so hard to get out it drove her insane, and she scratched her eyes out. She was found dead in her grave a few days later. To summon her, you turn off the light, get a lighted candle, turn on the tap (usually done in bathrooms), and chant her name 3/13 times. Then look in the mirror, she should be there and if she has a rose/teddy bear you are going to live and if she has a knife you are going to die.

    Laurabarron13 June 24, 2011 at 8:24 pm
  6. on the humans lick 2 it made the fact that at night i stay huddled in a ball AWAY from all edges of my bed seem rational (which i know it's not) and all so i SO gotta try every single mirror tirck on my b-day with my friends or mom or even both but i like all of the legends & the car 1 reminded me of ALOT of horror movies. The clown 1 reminded me of some of my friends, the movie “Strangers”  and made me look around my room, stop reading 4 a minute and open my window (which meant i also had 2 pull up my blanket cuz i like my room dark) but hey those were all really worthy of the top 5, or at least most of them i personally think that i could easily come up with one that could knock out 1 or 2 that makes some phobias seem even move rational (like the clown 1 made people who're scared of clowns seem rational) P.S. sorry 4 being so long

    ParanomalPrincess118 July 18, 2011 at 9:42 pm
  7. i used to be scared of these things until my Mum told me that it was just pretend

  8. Of course its rubbish no one would think its real

    Ghostlover818 July 30, 2011 at 5:26 am
  9. There are several different versions. This is one of the more known ones.

  10. that “Humans can lick too” seem a bit inconsistent to me… either that or it's just me.

  11. Humans can lick? hmmm.

  12. there are plenty of stories of how bloody mary came to be i being a huge fan of this story should know

    Micahel K Donnelly October 8, 2011 at 2:25 am
  13. There was only one of these that happened in real life. A mother who disappeared ended up dead under a hotel mattress at the Budget Inn in Memphis,TN.She wasn't found till almost 2 months after her dissappearance.
     http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010

  14. Who and where to condense this summer on holiday, slice your information.

  15. Humans cab lick too…. Thank you captain obvious!, I didn’t know that!

    I Love Harry Styles June 24, 2012 at 5:58 pm
  16. Hmmm…I had always heard Bloody Mary was the ghost of Mary Tudor of England, the one who declared that all Protestants be burned alive or tortured to death for not practicing Catholicism. I think I read somewhere that as punishment for all the lives she took in her reign as Queen of England, she was unable to depart this world for the afterlife, because religion was the most important thing to her, so denying being a part of any of it was the worst punishment, I guess. Anyways, in her bitterness, she continues to linger between life and death and torment the living through the most easily accessible passageways between realms: mirrors. Note: I am a practicing Wiccan, and magic is sort of my hobby. Certain objects or areas can act as “gateways” between, say, the Heavens and the Mortal Realm, or the Realms of the Dead and the Mortal Realm. Mirrors are one of the easiest ways for spirits to cross over, because they have no physical form to transport, so no enchantment to prevent leaving your physical form behind, see? So to all those who live in haunted places or are followed by spirits, and you DON’T want to see them, never look in a mirror while talking to them. It’s just not smart.

  17. clown statue and people can lick to makes me lock ever window every door shut all the blinds and sleep with the tv on scary stuff man!!!

  18. So gay.. Bong Cheong Dong ghost is scarier than this stories

  19. this was ok. not dat scary. when i first read it, i was like, dafuq?

  20. Those were not scary at all, although i loved the humans can lick to story

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