While it might be easier to debunk these things in this day and age, the urban legend remains a constant reminder of the power of storytelling and the human imagination. Tales of horrific events and scary home invaders have been around for years, and with each retelling, they seem to grow in horror. Some are based on real stories while others are purely fictional. So which is which? You tell us.
25 Lillian Grey
In a cemetery in Salt Lake City, Utah, there’s a tombstone of a woman named Lillian Grey, and on it reads “Victim of the beast 666.” Many have speculated as to what that means and what horrible fate befell this woman, even if the truth might be as simple as her husband being very anti-government and commissioning the tombstone upon her death.
24 The Choking Doberman
A couple in Australia returns home to find their Doberman choking. The wife rushes the dog to vet while the man, who fainted, remained at home. After the wife returns home, the vet calls and tells the couple to vacate the premises and that police are on their way. Turns out that the dog was choking on a finger he bit off of an intruder, and that the man was still be inside the house. Police arrived and arrested the bleeding criminal.
23 The Slit-Mouthed Woman
A popular Japanese legend tells the story of a samurai’s wife whose mouth was cut from ear to ear by her husband after he discovered her infidelity. Many believe she was cursed for her crimes and lives today, wandering the world and asking those she encounters, “Am I pretty?”
22 Ghost of Stow Lake
This ghost has haunted Stow Lake since at least 1908 when a man named Arthur Pigeon was pulled over for speeding after claiming to have seen her. Legends say this woman murdered or lost her child and refused to move on to the afterlife. Instead she haunts this lake in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.
21 Zanfretta’s Abduction
In 1978, Pier Zanfretta claimed he was abducted by aliens while doing his rounds as a night watchman. He went on to recount, in vivid detail both awake and under hypnosis, his experiences. So authentic were his thoughts and descriptions that many believe this to be one of the best alien abduction stories of all time. Zanfretta wasn’t alone in claiming he saw strange things that night. He claimed to have been abducted a second time a year later.
20 The Avenging Greek Soldier
After World War II, this soldier was returning home to marry his fiancé when he was captured by radical Greeks and then tortured and murdered. Since then, there have been numerous stories of women (mostly widows and virgins) in Greece who’ve met a handsome young soldier. After they’ve become pregnant and bore children, the soldier disappears leaving behind a note claiming he’d impregnated the women so his sons could eventually exact his revenge.
19 The Hook
Like the boyfriend legend, this one claims that a young couple, off alone in the woods, hear a chilling story about a man with a hook hand terrorizing people on the radio. To be safe the boyfriend locks the doors of the car and at the insistence of the girl, drives off. When they return home they discover a hook imbedded into the car door.
18 The Light
Returning to her dorm room during finals week, a college girl decides to leave the lights off so that she doesn’t wake her sleeping roommate. In the morning she discovers her roommate has been murdered and scrawled onto the wall is a note written in blood which reads, “Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light.”
17 Don’t Answer the Phone
This popular narrative has been used in movies and stories for years. In it, a babysitter answers the phone only to hear either heavy breathing or a voice asking her to check on the sleeping children. The caller calls back several times before the babysitter alerts the police who trace the call. The final time he calls, the police call her back and tell her the call is coming from inside the house. In most versions, the children are already dead .
16 Crybaby Bridge
This moniker is attached to various bridges across the United States. Legends usually claim that the location is a place where children have died or been murdered. All these tales claim the same thing; that if you listen, you can hear the sound of children crying – even when none are present. Some have even claimed to have seen crying babies at the bridge.
15 The Boyfriend’s Death
They’re many variations on this tale, but almost all of them involve a couple making out, the boyfriend getting out of the car and then being killed by an unknown assailant. Some popular versions involve the girl killing the boyfriend by accidentally running him over or strangling him with a rope which is tied to the car and the attacker.
14 The Suscon Screamer
On Suscon Road in Pennsylvania there’s a railroad bridge where a bride reportedly hung herself to death. A bridge she still haunts today. Urban stories claim that if you stop there and put your keys on the roof of your car you’ll see her in your mirror.
13 Bob Mackey’s
Bob Mackey was once a country singer of some note and he opened a bar called Bob Mackey’s Music World. Oh, also, there’s apparently a portal to hell there. In addition to being a direct conduit to the underworld, the place also is the location of the death and decapitation of a pregnant woman in the 19th century and the home of a lonely woman who hanged herself and still haunts the place to this day.
12 The Dead Dog
In this horrifying tale, a child is awakened by the dripping of a faucet. She turns it off and lies back down, letting her arm drape over the bed, as was her habit, so her dog could lick her fingers. This scene repeats itself several times until she realizes the dripping isn’t from the faucet. Eventually she discovers the source is her dead dog hidden in the cabinet (or shower or somewhere else) with a note that reads, “Humans can lick, too.”
11 The White Death
As the story goes, once there was a girl in Scotland who hated life and everyone so much that she committed suicide. Her family discovered her death and then over the course of the next few days they too died. What’s even stranger is that all her family members had their limbs torn off. Modern tales claim that she comes to the door of those who know her story and knocks repeatedly before killing her victim so that nobody shares her tale.
10 Char Man
Since 1948 there have been stories of the Char Man in California. His origins are based on a father and son who were caught in a forest fire. The man died, but the boy survived. Some stories claim the boy pulled his father’s skin off. Apparently if you stop at the right bridge in the Ojai Valley, a burned man will come for you and attempt to tear your skin off as well.
9 The Halloween Hanging
Another popular tale is that of a child or high school boy who “accidentally” hangs himself during a play on Halloween. Those witnessing the event don’t know it’s not part of the show and only learn of his fate afterwards. Like many urban legends, this one is based on a true story.
8 The Dog Boy
Few places are as creepy as the Arkansas home known as the Bettis House. Gerald Floyd Bettis supposedly captured stay dogs and cats and tortured them here as a child. As an adult, Gerald imprisoned his parents in the attic where he beat and tormented them. He was arrested after the death of his father and imprisoned where he eventually died of a drug overdose. The Bettis House remains haunted to this day, and all kinds of paranormal activity has been reported there.
7 The Well to Hell
Most consider this to be a hoax, but in 1989, Russian scientists bored a hole into the earth and broke into a super-heated pocket which was well over 1,000 degrees in temperature. Recording devices lowered into the pocket picked up all manners of disturbing sounds, and those on site claimed a winged gas demon flew up from the gas pocket and escaped into the world.
6 Dead Body in the Hotel Room
This urban legend tells the tale of a couple staying in a hotel and complaining about the horrible odor. The hotel staff goes on to discover that the smell is coming from a body hidden under the mattress. Not only is it factual, it’s happened more than once.
5 The Green Man
This is one is certainly true – sort of. Raymond Robinson was a normal child who unfortunately had an accident with power lines, disfiguring his face. His family hid him away for most of his life, but he used to walk the streets at night when no one was out. He became known as the Green Man and he was sighted numerous times and become something of an urban legend in Pennsylvania.
4 The Creepy Clown Statue
This popular story claims that a babysitter was watching some kids and called the parents to ask if she could cover up a creepy looking clown doll. The father told the babysitter to grab the kids and flee the house. Turns out the family didn’t own a clown doll and the kids had recently complained that they were being watched at night by a clown. Some versions of the tale claim the statue or doll is a clown midget who’d been hiding in the house.
3 Elisa Day
This urban legend goes all the way to Medieval Europe. It tells the tale of a woman who was seduced and killed by her lover who took her to the place where the wild roses grow. Numerous poems and songs have been written about it. Many believe Elisa still haunts the place of her death.
2 Bloody Mary
One of the most popular urban legends of all time goes something like this. If you turn out all the lights, look into a mirror and say Bloody Mary three times out load, you will summon the ghost of a woman named Mary Wroth. Mary was an accused witch and she was supposedly executed for her crimes of witchcraft.
1 Amityville Horror
This tale is based on a book about the Amityville house in Amityville, New York. Said to be haunted, this house has a sordid history of terrorizing its owners with horrible noises and spectral effects. Fortunately, recent owners haven’t experienced these things – leaving one to wonder if the demons were driven away or just moved on.