While most urban legends are far from factual truth, they are built to play upon our deepest and darkest fears. Blending our need for entertainment with the thrills that we get from being truly scared, urban legends have been around for decades!
Whether you were huddled up around a flashlight late at night as part of a sleepover as a child, or simply falling down the black hole that is the internet when you just couldn’t sleep, we have all been enthralled by an urban legend at one time or another.
Below you will find 23 of the scariest urban legends from around the worlds, as curated from the best of AskReddit.
The Burning Bed
“I live in Dansville, Michigan, which is the town the movie The Burning Bed took place in in real life.
Basically the story is about a really big estate called the seven gables. It used to have a massive house on it, and you can apparently still go back on the property and see the ruins. In that house lived a married couple. Well the husband was abusive and beat wife constantly. Ebentually she snapped. She tied him to his bed in his sleep and set the house on fire. I haven’t seen the movie but I heard its a solid 7/10. The property is filled with snakes and quite a few are massasagua rattle snakes.
EDIT: video link of someone exploring the property… https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=smF5FJ8AFR0”
“Clownman. I lived right outside Pittsburgh, PA as a teenager, in a little, poor, town called Swissvale. The next communities over are Rankin and Braddock, which are steel production heyday ghost towns that have been plagued with poverty. A strip of woods, lined by a train track follow the river upon which our communities reside. Right next to the river looms the decrepit abandoned steel mill I believe once called Carrie Furnace. As teenagers do, my friends and I used to cut through the park, across the tracks, and to the river to drink, smoke pots, and hang out. Eventually, we started exploring the steel mill. I loved it. The graffiti and sculptural artists, the wildlife that randomly took over, the bums who made it home, etc all made it a worthwhile adventure. I became comfortable there. Then my friends told me about an abduction and rape of a teenager whose naked and bloodied body ended up strung up on a set of city steps. The killer was an insane man who dressed as a clown with a horrid, bloodstained mask. “He lives in the woods and in the steel mill. He walks the tracks with a butcher knife he hasn’t even bothered to clean. Don’t come here alone”. I got into a fight with a boyfriend one night and stubbornly decided to walk alone from the river – across the tracks, and through the woods. I got to the tracks, turned and looked at the steel mill. Further down the tracks I saw a figure. I couldn’t see a face, but the baggy pants were rather clown like. I ran like you wouldn’t fucking believe. I’ve never felt fear like that before. It was probably a bum. But who takes chances with an urban legend like that?”
It Turned Out to be True
“On the little island I grew up on, there was a story of a “beast” that would come into your home at night and fiddle with kids. And it turned out to be true.
He entered homes at night dressed in a rubber mask and nail-studded wristlets, attacking women and children. It went on for a period of eleven years from 1960 as the beast roamed the island.
Caught in 1971. Story here
And then there was a book. The cover gives you an idea of what the Beast of Jersey looked like.”
“Out by my parents’ place in Jersey, there’s a story about a bridge across this one creek. A little kid drowned there a long time ago when he went into the water to retrieve an object he’d accidentally dropped.
Anyway, if you go at the right time of night and drop something small into the water, like a coin or a pen or a ball, and then go away for a couple of minutes, it’ll be sitting on the railing waiting for you when you come back. The ghost of the kid doesn’t want anyone else to die the way that he did, so he fishes things out of the water to keep people safe.
If you drop it back in again, he’ll supposedly throw it at you for being a jerk and wasting his time.”
“Most of the Kelpie stories I know of have the Kelpie as a beautiful young man who attempts to woo young girls and then turn into a horse who drags them to a watery death.
Basically a variant of many folklore stories warning women of the perils of pre-marriage sex. Like vampires, a Kelpie cannot cross your threshold unless you invite them in, i.e. ‘you’re asking for it’.
On a Scottish note, I love the stories of Selkies – seal men/women. They are seals that sometimes shed their seal coat and you can see them in a beautiful human form, due to their love of dancing naked in the moonlight. Stories have humans stealing the seal coat to trap the Selkie in their human form, usually marrying them and keeping the seal coat from them. The Selkie usually manages to recover their seal coat and return to the sea.
If anyone has had the luck to see a seal in the wild, you can see where these stories come from, they have the most incredible eyes and they just STARE at you, like they know something you don’t.
Similarly the noise they make is quite freaky, when they ‘sing’ they sound like women laughing. I was once on a cliff walk in Scotland that was famous for Bean Sidhe/Banshees. The walk is remote, no roads/houses anywhere near it. Anyway, we start to hear this faint noise of women laughing/giggling, and I start to freak the fuck out, basically close to tears. My husband, who is American and therefore was not subject to stories of Banshees as a child, did not understand my terror. I was so relieved when we came to a beach and could see it was just a group of seal mums and their babies.”
Still Creepy Tho!!!
“In the Northeast U.S., there’s a story about Woodspeople or Man-o-woods. When you’re driving along a road in the woods and catch a glimpse of what looks like a person in the corner of your eye, but when you look directly at it it’s gone, they say you might have encountered a man-o-woods.
They are masters of camouflage and can sense when someone looks at them. They come to a halt so you can’t sense any movement. It’s speculated that they wear bark, mud, moss, and grasses to blend in. They’re supposedly human, but extremely simple-minded; barely verbal. They’re very small in stature and avoid contact with civilization mostly. Nobody knows where they live or congregate, but they usually move on if there’s too much activity around.
They’re also peaceful. Around some farmlands, they will do very simple chores at night or off in the distance. They may sweep a barn floor or stack some wood, but anything more complex is beyond them. They do it in exchange for not bothering them as they sleep in the barn for a night or for some bread and vegetables left out for them to find. They’ve never been known to steal or kill animals or livestock.”
“I don’t remember the name of it but there is a creature in Filipino folk lore that is a beautiful woman who detaches her torso from her lower body at night. Apparently her top half flies around landing on the rooftops where pregnant women are sleeping. It has a tongue that reaches down into the belly button of the pregnant woman and eats her unborn child. The only way to kill it is to find its lower half and put salt on it.”
The Stick People
“I’m Native, and the story of the Stick People always gave me the heebie jeebies at dusk, or if I was alone in the woods. It basically is that there are these Stick People that live in the hills, and they draw children in who don’t pay attention to their parents, children – and even adults – who wandered into their territory, children who are out past their bedtime, or even babes out of their baskets when their mothers have their backs turned to put up laundry on the line.
The Stick People, as told to me, were small, midget like, in size and skeletal. They were were mischievous and wicked, they would steal from you…like the extra sock from your dryer, your lost car keys, or…your children.
As I lived in a very rural area on a reservation, I’d assumed these Stick People lived up in the hills…so every time I’m in the hills now I’m always looking around, and very alert, and not because there are bears and cougars in the area…but because of the Stick People.”
“Skinwalkers. Hands down. During a short term job, I was housed near a reservation and one night, I swore I saw a coyote running across an open space about quarter mile out on it’s hind legs. I told the locals about it and they told me about how things like that happen out here and that I shouldn’t speak of my experience freely to anyone. One of them introduced me to a “healing man” of a tribe to make sure I was “cleansed of bad spirits” in case the encounter marked me in any way. He told about terrifying encounters that other people have had with these creatures and to not think about them or seek them out while I was there or they would know. Seriously creepy stuff. I didn’t have another encounter while I was there thankfully. When I left, the locals told me I was very brave and had a “strong mind”, so yay.”
The Poinciana Woman
“I live in Northern Australia and everyone growing up in my town knows of the legend of the poinciana woman.
A quick google search will elaborate into the many variations to the story but the one I grew up to know is that of a woman who was raped by Japanese fishermen who hanged herself from a poinciana tree when she had discovered she was pregnant. She is said to appear as a beautiful woman to entice men; with long dark hair dressed in a white gown, and is said to be situated at our army reserve.
When I was around twelve, and my younger brother ten, he had been in his room and I was in the lounge room on the computer. He had come barreling out from his room screaming can you hear that! Can you hear that?! before dragging me over to the window.
There was a faint feminine moan/hum, we could hear it moving from the window we stood at, to the one across the room and back in a clockwise direction. The wind had picked up with the noise despite how still the night had been. The sound became so loud that we were on the floor covering our ears crying, when I’ve brought it up recently my brother agrees it was almost as if the sound had been in our heads. This went on for about ten minutes before abruptly stopping. No wind, nothing.
We found out the next day that our older siblings had been at the army reserve that night before they got home, had climbed the concrete pillars to the locked gun turret and had been “taunting” the poinciana woman before they left when they heard footsteps assuming it was security.
What creeps me out most is that not long after this happened, I realized that we had a poinciana tree outside of that window.”
Charlie No Face
“When we lived in western Pennsylvania my uncle would always tell me about Charlie No-Face. He was in some kind of electrical accident as a kid that fried off his nose and his eyes. My uncle told my sister and I that if we were out at night, Charlie No Face would appear and try to steal our faces off.
As it turns out, Charlie No Face was an actual guy named Raymond Robinson and he was in an accident that disfigured his face like that. But the ghost story part obviously wasn’t true.”
It Turned Out to be True…
“In my town, there was always talk of a monster/ghost/whatever living in the top of our primary school. There was always signs, but they were brushed off as things that you would usually find in a school; half-eaten food, damaged tables, etc.
But then weirder things would happen some the ceiling panels disappearing or noises. I totally get why people would see this as a red-flag of something bad happening, but the school was always getting work done on it so I think even the teachers assumed it wasn’t anything too serious. This went on for around 2 years and whilst we we’re on a 6 week break (luckily) it turned out that a guy was living in the ceilings of the classrooms, and he must’ve been coming down for food out of the canteen regularly when it was quiet enough for him not to get caught.
The creepiest thing about all this, isn’t that it was just childish rumours turned out to be true, or that he had been there whilst lessons were happening. It’s that the reason he was caught, was because he fucking died and the caretaker smelt something awful and went up there assuming it was rats or a pipeline leak.
Needless to say, parents were informed and a lot of kids didn’t come back to school after the break.”
“We have one in Venezuela called “El Silbón” (The Whistler) typical of the wetland plains and prairies regions we call “Llanos”.
Description is usually of a very emaciated man dressed in cowboy’s (llanero) rags with a wide brim hat that hides his skeletal face. He roams the countryside and patches of bush at night, with drooping shoulders, downcast stare and a heavy bag full of bones and half decomposed remains slung over his back.
There are two distinctive features, however, that make him particular: he continuously whistles, a high chord progression C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C that goes higher in tune with every note – and is unnaturally tall and strong, with some accounts describing him as towering over 6 meters in height.
His origin is not clear, with some tales stating him as an accursed parricide. But whatever he is, is feared by lone travelers. Specially drunk or unfaithful men that travel through the country. Story has it that his ominous whistle is suddenly heard very loud and close, yet the source cannot be pinpointed – and contrary to logic, when the sound gets lower and appears more distant it is an indication of his immediate proximity.
He will then kill by strangling or by concussion and devour the victims and throw the bones in the bag. Can be seen occasionally wading over the high walls of haciendas/fincas and honest prayer should keep him away.”
Dead Children’s Playground
“Back when I lived in Huntsville my home was ~100 yards away from the “Dead Children’s Playground”. During the day it was just a place parents could drop their kids while they visited buried loved ones, but during the night it’s also a huge fog trap due to a giant rock wall around half of it. Supposedly swings move on their own and you can hear children laughing. We used to go out there at midnight all the time but apparently you have to go at “the witching hour” which I’m guessing is past my bedtime.
“The Stüpp is a type of werewolf from German folklore. It usually waits around crossroads at dusk and after dark and leaps on unsuspecting passers. And that’s it. While other werewolves would promptly tear your face off, the stüpp just stays clenched to the hosts back like a backpack, forever. As the person struggles to get the creature off, it grows in size meaning the more they struggle the greater it grows until the person either has their legs broken or shattered, or they die of exhaustion.”
“There was a cemetery about a mile from where I grew up (in the middle of nowhere) that dates back to around 1850. Everyone who died in the area was buried there for awhile, but it’s been owned by one family for about 60 years, so they’re the only ones who use it now.
One of the graves has a big crow carved out of wood, I think, and painted black. It’s ominous as hell and always creeped me out as a kid. It was always there, brooding over the grave.
We drove by one Sunday on the way to church, and the crow fucking turned and looked at me! I almost shit my pants. It flapped its wings and flew away. I swear to god, that fucking thing was perched there in the same position without moving for years, until one day it flew away. I never saw it again. I still have no idea what the fuck the deal was. Was it a real bird that always happened to land in the same spot and perch there perfectly still while I was watching, day after day, year after year? Or was it a carved bird that I hallucinated flying away? Or was it something else?
Either way, I’m not setting foot in that goddamn cemetery ever. And I’m still irrationally afraid of crows.”
The H Man
“There is a local legend about a campsite I used to go camping at here in upstate New York. Legend says that there is a man they call “The H Man” that lives out in the woods near the campsite. One year a group of boy scouts were camping out there and one of the boys went missing. They didn’t find him until they started packing up to go home, as they were cleaning up and packing up their belongings they found the missing kid. He was dead under one of the mattresses with an “H” carved into his chest. They say when the H man kills campers, he carves an H into your chest. Growing up camping here, all of us kids were terrified of the H man. They said if you go exploring deep enough into the woods you can find his home. Well, there IS an abandoned house deep in the woods we found one time. ( I was shitting my pants ) Creepy thing was, it was sooo deep in the woods but there was no roads leading to it, no paths leading to it. Just a single abandoned house. Sitting in the middle of the woods. If you go camping in Minerva NY, beware of the “H Man”.”
“Statesville, North Carolina, 1891. A crowded train derailed near a tall trestle, killing 30 people. From then on, on the anniversary of the wreck, you could hear the sounds of a train crashing and the screams of the dying.
In 2010, a team of ghost hunters were on that trestle on the anniversary of that wreck. They heard the sound of an approaching train, and then saw a light.
Turns out it was an actual train, and it hit and killed one of the ghost hunters.”
“Mothman. In a 13 months period between 1965-1966, the town of Point Pleasant, WV reported seeing a winged beast with big red eyes. The last report was the beast standing on the Silver Bridge. And then the silver bridge collapsed. The beast wasn’t reported again afterwards.”
“This story relates to the Wendigo. A bunch of friends and I were out one night to do some urban exploring, hiking through woods, etc (what else is there to do when you live in bum-fuck nowhere).
We were walking up a hill towards a connecting public park that was just kind of an open field with walking paths surrounded by dense woods. Standing on the edge of a treeline we looked out into the open field and saw what we all thought was a deer. Not that strange , deer are everywhere. We walk out into the field some more while watching the deer. As we get further out into the field this “deer” stands up on two legs and covers about 100 yards in what seemed like only a few strides. This freaked us the fuck out and we left as fast as we could.
Ive been in the woods nearly all my life and ive never seen anything like that. Scary.”
The Little Girl in the Tree
“There is a tree in my home town and its trunk is shaped in a way that at night time there is a little girl peeking out from behind it and the freaky thing is it follows you until you drive beyond it.”
The White Woman
“I don’t know that it classifies as “creepy” but there was an “urban’ myth in Australia back in the 1840s called The White Woman of Gippsland.
The story goes that a ship wrecked itself on Australia’s South Eastern coast and a European lady who survived was taken prisoner by a local Aboriginal group.
Word of this “white woman” being held by the savages got around and so horrified the relatively small population of white settlers that a posse was raised to set out in search of her.
No such woman was ever found but it did provide the Scottish settler Angus McMillan and others of his ilk to commit numerous acts of genocide against the aboriginal populations inhabiting the fertile agricultural and grazing lands. Not that he really needed an excuse since he’d already been at it for years prior.
Eventually a group of Aboriginals admitted they had the “white woman” in their possession and agreed to hand her back.
She turned out to be a carved figurehead from a wrecked ship.”
“Changelings. It isnt so much a scary folklore – human children and women stolen by fairies and replaced with fairy children or dying fairies – but how people reacted was horrifying.
Changelings were usually used to describe otherwise misunderstood or mysterious illnesses, deformities, or conditions. So, a woman has a healthy child who starts showing signs of autism at 2 years old; must be a changeling.
Which is whatever, but there were ways people thought you could get the changeling to reveal themselves, or even ways to get the fairies to switch the babies back. Some was stupid harmless shit, like cooking egg shells to confuse and surprise the changeling into speaking. Other ways were a lot worse, like beating the changeling, putting it in the fireplace, holding it under water.
There are quite a few cases where mothers killed their children because they were convinced they were changeling – drowning them, burning them alive, beating them to death, and so on.
And it didn’t end until relatively recently. In the late 1800s, nine people became convinced a woman was a changeling following a serious bout of pneumonia, including her husband and father. They beat her, threw urine at her, burned her alive, buried her body in a shallow grave, and then reported her missing to the police, saying fairies had taken her.
They were only charged with manslaughter because they firmly believed they had killed a changeling, not a woman.
Or, at least, that’s what they claimed.”