Growing up, I was always creeped out by urban legends. Reading about them kept me up at night.
Who hasn't been creeped by the story of the man in the backseat (which serves as the opening for the teen horror film Urban Legend) or the one about the babysitter and the man upstairs (which gave us the first 20 minutes of When a Stranger Calls)?
These stories tend to have horrifying, humorous, or cautionary elements—and there are many iterations of them told around the world. Ghosts and monsters feature too.
People shared some of their favorites with us after Redditor VeryDeep asked the online community:
"What's your all-time favorite urban legend?"
"This one is pretty local..."
"This one is pretty local to Loveland, OH, but I really like the Loveland Frog. Back in the 70s there were a few sightings of a weird "humanoid frog" that would scurry around on its hind legs. Eventually it was shot by police, who discovered that it was a large pet iguana with the tail cut off. Local newspapers played up the story big time."
Creepy humanoid creature on the loose? Mothman would like a word!
"When I was in middle school..."
"The Jersey Devil. When I was in middle school my grade went on a trip to a camp in the Pine Barrens where the jersey devil presumably is. I cried when my parents said they didn't want me to go."
The Pine Barrens is a freaky place.
Don't believe me? Watch that one episode of The Sopranos.
"She's the mistress..."
"La Llorona. She's the mistress of a Spanish conquistador. When he left her to return to his wife, she went mad from grief and drowned the two children she had out of wedlock with him and killed herself."
"She arrived at the entrance to Heaven and God asked her what she did with her children. She lied and said she didn't know. So God doomed her to forever wander the Earth looking for their bodies."
This one is a classic, and there has yet to be a good movie made about her.
"He grew up in the Everglades..."
"My hometown has the Skunk Ape. A distant cousin to the Sasquatch. He grew up in the Everglades and had long matted, moss-covered fur. Stinks like a skunk. Has been seen crossing back roads in the middle of the night and disappearing into the darkness."
Not something I'd want to run into at night. I've seen enough horror films to know that the one rule is to keep driving.
"Rumors of a murderous faceless man..."
"Rumors of a murderous faceless man roaming the streets at night were based on a real-life person who'd suffered an extreme accident that destroyed his face. He wasn't, as it turns out, a murderer; he walked at night because he wanted to get fresh air and be left alone."
Well, that ended well. No reason to spread a rumor about the guy if all he wanted was to enjoy a walk by himself!
"I live in St. Petersburg, Florida and the urban legend here has to do with the Skyway Bridge. There have been about 200 suicides. People that cross the bridge claim to see a blonde woman standing in the middle of the road and even sitting in the backseats of their cars."
"Caring people that got out of their car to help the woman claim that she vanished into thin air. I have crossed the bridge a couple of times and have not seen any sort of thing. I guess she was one of the people that took their own lives by jumping off the 200-foot drop into the water or died when the bridge collapsed ages ago."
So even more reason for me to avoid creepy bridges at night. Gotcha.
"Here in southern Wisconsin..."
"Here in southern Wisconsin, we have the Beast of Bray Road, a large canid/werewolf creature that's been sighted several times."
A really terrible movie was made about this one. The SyFy channel is great like that.
"Steve from Blues Clues jumping off of a cliff because he kept seeing Blue everywhere."
I remember this one! Steve is alive and well, thank you very much.
"There was one in my hometown in Poland about Russian WWII soldiers supposedly buried somewhere in town in an unmarked grave. All the kids believed it. Who knows, maybe it was even true."
Honestly, this one is not at all outside the realm of possibility.
"Sometimes it was a van..."
"Growing up in Chicago the urban legend of Homey the clown driving around in a white van and killing kids was told in hushed tones in the playground at recess. Sometimes it was a van full of clowns and someone's brother always had a run in with them and got away just in the nick of time."
A creepy murderous clown? No thanks. I've had enough of those after seeing It.
Let's face it: It's great to read and learn about most of these because it's thrilling to be creeped out. And chances are there are some excellent urban legends being told in your area. Perhaps you've heard them and if not, best get on it.
Have some legends of your own to share? Tell us more in the comments below!