Urban legends tend to focus on a current fear or cultural phenomenon of the time. From the unbelievable to the possible, urban legends satisfy a human desire to find entertainment and thrills within one's deepest and darkest fears.
Ten Terrifying Urban Legends
These particular urban legends have thrilled people for several generations, and they continue to be some of the most common legends told at slumber parties and on camping trips.
Don't Answer the Phone
Late one night, a babysitter was by herself downstairs after putting the children to bed. The phone rang. Thinking it might be the children's parents, she answered it.
Instead of identifying himself, the caller merely breathed heavily into the phone for a few moments. She hung up, but the phone rang again. The babysitter answered it, only to hear the same breathing, followed by laughter.
The babysitter was alone in the house with the children and frightened, so she called the operator and asked that the call be traced.
When it rang a third time, she heard the same breathing and laughter before the caller hung up. The operator called back almost immediately, frightening the babysitter by telling her the call was coming from inside the house.
The babysitter ran outside while the operator called the police. When they arrived, they discovered a man had murdered the children and was waiting to murder the babysitter if she came upstairs.
Flashed From Behind
A college student was traveling home from school. As she entered one particularly long, dark stretch of forest, a car that had been following her suddenly raced up close, and the driver flashed his lights. She accelerated to pull away, but the car kept pace and again flashed its lights. She accelerated again, but the car behind her kept up and continued flashing its lights.
Within moments, the student saw flashing blue lights from an approaching police car. She pulled over to the shoulder and so did the car behind her. She watched as the police car pulled up behind them both. The officer quickly exited his car, and then raced towards her. The officer pulled her quickly from the car and before she could ask what was happening, he ran back to the car, and with his gun drawn, opened the back door and shouted, "Get out of the car slowly with your hands in the air." As the college student watched, a large man holding a knife got out of the back seat of her car. As he was being handcuffed, the man who had been following her told the college student that he was flashing his lights every time the man would rise up from the back seat to stab her.
The Clown Statue
A babysitter was working one night at a house filled with clown memorabilia, including multiple statues, kept in one room. While the children were playing in this room, the babysitter became aware of a life-sized clown statue sitting in a rocking chair. It was extremely lifelike and appeared to be following them with its eyes as they moved around the room.
Finally, the babysitter became concerned by its presence enough to call the parents and request that it be removed from the room. Upon hearing its description, the mother ordered the babysitter and children to leave the house immediately and head for the neighbors' home.
When they arrived, they spoke again to the mother who assured them the police were on their way. Apparently a mentally ill neighbor had been threatening to murder the family. He had dressed as a clown and was laying in wait for them in that room.
Glass in the Fried Rice
A couple had a tradition of ordering Chinese food every Friday night from their favorite local restaurant. One particular Friday night they ordered their usual, which came with a large order of fried rice.
By the middle of the night, they were both overcome with excruciating stomach pain and severe bleeding. The husband became so concerned the he called 911 for help. Two ambulances arrived and as they loaded the husband and wife into the vehicles, they also collected samples of the Chinese food the couple had eaten the night before.
Neither the husband nor wife made it to the hospital; they both died of internal bleeding en route. An analysis of the Chinese food turned up fragments of glass throughout the fried rice. A subsequent inspection of the Chinese restaurant revealed a disgruntled employee had broken a drinking glass, chosen a random batch of fried rice, and poured the tiny glass fragments into the rice. The employee was arrested for the two deaths.
The Dead Dog
A child who woke during the night would frequently hold her hand out to her dog to lick so she would go back to sleep. One night, she was awakened multiple times by what sounded like a dripping faucet. Each time she awoke, she put her hand down for her dog to lick. When morning came, she went into the bathroom to find out what was causing the dripping. In the shower, she discovered her dead dog hanging from the curtain rod, with his blood dripping into the drain. When she returned to her room, she discovered a note which read, "Humans can lick, too."
The Curse of Amen-Ra
Some report that the Titanic carried a cursed mummy. An American museum purchased the mummy of Amen-Ra and were shipping it from England to the United States aboard the Titanic. The mummy had previously brought grave misfortune upon all who owned it. The Titanic was no exception, for Amen-Ra's curse brought death to over 1,500 passengers aboard the ill-fated vessel.
Shipyard Workers Warned of Disaster
Although the Titanic was an English ship, she was built in Ireland. When the hull numbers were painted onto the ship, the Catholic crew stared in disbelief at the reflection the numbers made on a piece of metal in the shipyard. The numbers, when read backwards in the reflection, appeared to spell the words NO POPE. They quickly warned their supervisors that the ship was cursed, for the devil had put his stamp on the numbers, but they were laughed at and told to get back to work. Later, they wished they'd been more persuasive.
In the 1977, America was captured by the "true" story of a haunted house in Amityville, New York. The legend of the house, as told in the book The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson, told the story of the Lutz family who unwittingly purchased the haunted house as their dream home in a peaceful Long Island town. They were blissfully unaware the house was the home of the infamous DeFeo murders. Within days, the Lutz family was terrorized by all sorts of frightening demonic and poltergeist type activity including floating red eyes outside of the windows, a pit to hell in the basement, black ooze coming out of the toilets, and a voice that told them to "GET OUT!"
While it has never been conclusively proven that the story of the Amityville Horror is untrue, subsequent owners of the home have had no experiences in the house, and the Lutz family now says that their story is "mostly true." There are a number of experts who believe the story is a hoax, while a number of others feel that the house is, indeed, haunted. Chances are, the story of the Amityville Horror has some elements of truth that have been embellished in the retelling over the years.
Resurrection Mary walks up and down the streets past graveyards all over the United States in her prom dress seeking a ride home.
The original Resurrection Mary legend originated in Chicago. In the 1930s, a number of motorists driving down Archer Avenue passed by Resurrection Cemetery and claimed a young woman jumped onto the running boards of their cars, only to vanish as abruptly as she had appeared.
There is a good chance the legend arose from a real tale of a young woman from the 1930s who had been dancing with a boyfriend at a nearby Chicago ballroom. Unfortunately, the boyfriend was being a boor, so the young woman decided she'd rather brave a walk home in the cold and dark rather than spend another minute with the lout. She was struck by a vehicle and killed while walking along Chicago's Archer Avenue. According to the legend, she was buried in the Resurrection Cemetery in a white dress and dancing shoes. Shortly after the event, reports of her ghostly appearance to passing motorists began to surface.
Resurrection Mary sightings in Chicago continue to this day, leading some to believe that Mary is, indeed, a ghost that walks outside of the Resurrection Cemetery. The story of Mary is a tale told now as an urban legend - happening to a friend of a friend driving along an unnamed dark road near an unnamed cemetery.
The Small Woman in Grey
This story is centered on a general store in a small town. Two gentlemen who ran the store one day had the monotony of their daily chores interrupted by a woman dressed all in grey who entered the store, picked up a glass container of milk from the dairy case, and then promptly walked out the door. Frozen for a few moments by the audacity of this woman, the two men finally collected their wits and dashed out the door after her, but she was already gone. Two days later, the incident occurred a second time.
The third time, the men were prepared. When she entered the store, they watched as she picked up the container of milk and again walked out the door. This time they raced after her, chased her down the street, and finally down a dirt path at the edge of town where they lost sight of her. However, upon further exploration, the two men discovered an old cemetery where they could hear a baby's cry coming from the ground in front of a gravestone and a fresh grave site of a mother and infant who were recently buried together. The men found shovels and quickly unburied the coffin, the crying becoming more clear as they dug. Finally, opening the coffin, they discovered the same small woman in grey they had spotted in the store, only here she was dead. In her arms were a live, crying infant and three empty containers of milk. The child was inadvertently buried alive, and the spirit of the mother had kept the baby alive for several days until she was found.
Growing Scarier with Time
Each urban legend typically has several versions to it, each subtly different from the others. These differences account for dramatics added by each retelling of the tale. Therefore, it is not unheard of for some stories to grow even more frightening with time.