10 Creepy Urban Legends from Around the World

Many urban legends center around drivers alone on a dark night.
Many urban legends center around drivers alone on a dark night.

Urban legends are often fictional stories passed down from generation to generation, and presented as true events. Most include only minor changes to better reflect modern-day circumstances and regional variations. They are often a mix of humour and horror. Although creepy urban legends sound absurd to some and hilarious to others, these types of stories have been around for decades, with some more popular stories shaping human lives from childhood to adulthood. Below are some of the 10 creepiest urban legends from around the world.

10. Killer in the Backseat

Also known as "High Beams," the legend of the "Killer in the Backseat" is a common urban legend told across the US and UK. The killer in this legend always lounges in the backseat of the victim's vehicle, waiting for an opportunity to kill. The legend begins with a woman driving alone at night when a car begins to follow her, driving closely behind her and repeatedly flashing its lights. Terrified, she tries to lose the car. When the chase ends, the driver explains that there was a man in the backseat of her vehicle with a knife. Every time the driver flashed his lights, the man would duck. Although the woman had mistaken the man in the car following her to have ill-intentions, he was actually trying to help her. In some versions of this legend, the woman learns of the killer when a gas station attendant alerts her to the fact that there is a passenger in the backseat of her vehicle. This concept has been used in films and television series.

9. Black Shuck

Black Shuck is the name given to a black dog which is said to roam the coast and countryside of East Anglia in eastern England. The dog is thought to be an omen of death. It is described as having a huge, hairy frame. It was first spotted in 1577 in Bungay and Blythburg. The legend tells that seeing this dog brings death or illness, and it was said to have caused the death of two men when it stormed a church in Bungay. In other descriptions, the animal is said to help lost travelers reach their destinations, contradicting the assertions that it brings bad luck to those who come in contact with the creature.

8. Chupacabra

Chupacabra is a creature that is known for sucking the blood of domestic animals, in particular, the goat. It is claimed to have been spotted in Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the US. The description of this creature is that it looked like a bear, but has spikes on its back that go from neck to tail in a neat row. Other descriptions add that it has scaly skin. However, it has been classified as an urban legend as it is believed that witnesses may have confused the creature with a coyote. Several documentaries have tried to locate the creature.

7. Vanishing Hitchhiker

This urban legend has been told around the world for centuries with many variants. The more common story involves a hitchhiker who vanishes while in a moving vehicle. The hitchhiker flags down a vehicle and boards it. As the vehicle moves on, the hitchhiker engages the driver in banter, then the hitchhiker vanishes. In some variations, they leave behind an item of clothing or an address. When the driver does follow up on that address, they are shocked to learn that hitchhiker is long dead, and they have presumedly given a lift to a ghost. Other variations switch the story, with a hitchhiker being picked up by a car, and they later discover the driver has been long dead. Normally the vanishing person died in a car crash nearby, and appear on the anniversary of their accident.

6. The Spider Bite

This legend originated in Europe during the 1970s, and used peoples' fear of spiders to dissuade them from visiting exotic southern locations, meaning to portray them as unclean and unsafe. In the story, a woman travels to a specific exotic location on vacation. During the trip, her cheek begins to swell, and she returns home to seek treatment. Upon probing, the swollen cheek bursts and dozens of spiders stream out of it. Presumably, a spider had laid eggs under her skin sometime during the trip. The shock causes the woman to go insane. Variations of this tale, known as the Red Spot, are told as cautionary tales to young children, using a little girl as the victim. The young girl, sleeping in her bed at home, wakes up with a red spot on her cheek. Her mother informs her not to worry, as it is just a spider bite. The spot turns into a boil, and bursts, with dozens of baby spiders emerging from the girl's cheek.

5. The Licked Hand

The legend has many variations. One of them involves a young girl and her dog. The young girl receives news about a serial killer on the loose. She locks up the house and goes to bed. When the sounds of dripping from the bathroom terrify her, her dog, lying on the floor next to her bed, licks her hand and she relaxes and falls asleep. The ending of the story varies. Some say that when the parents of the girl return the next morning, they inform her that the dog had been locked up outside. Others tells of the young girl waking up and finding her dog dead in the bathroom. Both variations intend to make the listener wonder who had licked the girl's hand, meaning to make them believe it was the serial killer. Like other legends, it has appeared in books, films, and several television shows.

4. Bloody Mary

This legend has been told in various forms for centuries, although it always involves a dimly lit mirror. Historically, the legend told of young women who would walk backwards up a flight of stairs with a candle and a mirror, to be able to see the face of their future husband. However, there was also the chance that the Grim Reaper would appear in the mirror instead, foretelling that their death was close at hand. Modern day variations of the legend tell of the ritual of Bloody Mary, whereby young girls chant the name Bloody Mary into a mirror in the hopes of seeing the apparition. Bloody Mary, possibly the ghost of the historical figure Queen Mary I of England, is often evil and covered in blood. This legend has been used to make films, video games, and television shows.

3. Black-eyed Children

This legend tells about children between the ages of 6 to 16 who have pale skin and distinctive black eyes. These children thought to be extra-terrestrial creatures, ghosts, or vampires out to suck blood, are found in front of people's homes, panhandling in the streets, or hitchhiking. The tale it thought to have originated in Texas in the late 1990's. The black-eyed children have apparently been sighed in Abilene, Texas, Portland, Oregon, and more recently in Staffordshire, England.

2. The Hookman

Originating the 1950s in the US, this tale was meant to scare young amorous couples. The legend tells of a young couple, who have parked their car to have a bit of fun. On the radio, the couple hears of an escaped fugitive with a hook as a hand. They decide to leave, and when they return home, discover a hook hanging from the door. Different variations include the couple seeing the fugitive but narrowly escaping, hear scraping on the side of the car while parked, the man leaving the car and the girl finding him strung from a tree with his hand scrapping the roof, or the male leaving the car and returning to the car find his date brutally murdered inside. The tale was widely circulated across the US, and has since been featured in multiple horror movies.

1. The Bunny Man

The legend of the Bunny Man originates from Fairfax County, Virginia in the 1970s, and involves a man dressed in a bunny suit attacking people with an axe. One version of the legend states that during a transfer from a mental facility in the early 1900s, one of the inmates escaped. During the search, hundreds of skinned rabbits, as well as a human body, were found strung from the trees in the nearby woods. The police corner the inmate at the Colchester rail junction, but he is struck by a train. Every Halloween holiday saw the reappearance of rabbit carcasses emerge around the railroad area. The Bunny Man was reported to be Douglas J. Grifon, in the mental institution for killing his wife and children, but subsequent research showed no records of Douglas. Even so, this legend has seen the Colchester overpass become an attraction for ghost hunters and curiosity seekers. It has also featured in films and in artwork.


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