If you’re reading this at night, and you’re about to go to bed… Well, I recommend you delay reading this until tomorrow, preferably when the sun is shining – I can’t guarantee that you’ll be able to fall asleep after reading this scary list of urban legends.
I’ve collected a list of what I think are some of the most scariest urban legends out there. These folktales and urban myths come from around the world. Some are centuries old; others are modern. The one thing that they all have in common is that I found them all pretty unsettling.
There were a few urban legends that didn’t quit make the cut but that we found creepy nonetheless. If you want to read more about these, check out our page on Robert the Doll, or our post about the Shadow People
Anyways, without further ado – here’s our list of the Top 10 Scary Urban Legends out there.
10. Slit mouthed woman / Kuchisake-onna
The legend of the woman with the slit mouth originates from Japan, although it is now also quite a well-known myth in Chinese and Korean culture. It is said that there was once a stunningly beautiful woman who was married to a Samurai. The samurai believed her to be adulterous, and in his rage he slit her mouth open from ear to ear and taunted by saying ‘Now who’s going to think you’re beautiful?’ This urban myth was first recorded in 1979 in Japan in Nagasaki, and it caused such uproar that police were forced to increase their presence and schools instructed their students to travel in groups.
Apparently, the slit mouth woman, known in Japanese as Kuchisake-onna, lurks on the streets in Japan wearing a surgical mask. If you have the bad luck of coming into contact with her, she will ask you a question – ‘Do you think I’m beautiful?’ If you answer ‘Yes’, she’ll rip off her mask and scream ‘What about NOW?’.
If you answer the second time, ‘No’, the legend suggests that you will die a grisly death at the hand of the woman and her oversized pair of scissors. The scariest part is, even if you answer ‘Yes’ the second time, so warped is her mind that she will still slit your mouth open, so that you can be just as ‘pretty’ as she is. You can’t just run away either – if you try to escape, every time you turn around still be standing there. Right in front of you.
She is said to almost exclusively hunt children, and reports of sightings have occurred not only in Japan – she was sighted once again in South Korea as recently as 2004 wearing a red mask and following children. If you’re unfortunate enough to run into her on the way home, you should answer he questions noncommittally – ‘You look alright’, or ‘I think you’re average’ – this kind of answer is said to confuse her, giving you time to get the hell out of there.
9. The Slender Man
The legend of Slender Man has been extensively covered on this site already – nonetheless, it’s such a creepy urban legend that I feel compelled to retell it here. The story of the Slender Man first gained notoriety in 2009 as it spread through the internet like wildfire. The Slender man is an extremely tall, lanky man who wears a black suit. He has deathly thin limbs, and the most terrifying thing about him – he has no face. There are reports that the he also has the ability to stretch and bend his arm in supernatural ways, and that his fingers are long, almost like claws, which he uses to scratch at the windows of his unsuspecting victims.
It is said that the Slender Man is often found in the woods or forests, and if you’re out camping or hiking and its past sunset, if you turn around you may catch a glimpse of him, standing motionless in the distance behind you. His victims are reportedly all children, and this is somewhat confirmed by the fact that he has been spotted in the background of photos of young children who tend to disappear with no trace just a short time after the time the photo is taken.
After the myth of the Slender Man became widely known of the internet, people began making connections to older urban legends in other cultures. Similar unnaturally tall, figures have been discovered in cave paintings in Brazil, and in the 1800s, there was a common belief in the existence of someone known only as The Tall Man’, who lured children into the woods. There is also a ‘Tall Man’ in a Romanian fairytale – I’ll leave you this is a description of this figure from the fairytale:
“The tall man stood in a clearing, dressed as a nobleman, all in black. Shadows lay over him, dark as a cloudy midnight. He had many arms, all long and boneless as snakes, all sharp as swords, and they writhed like worms on nails. He did not speak, but made his intentions known,”
We have covered Slenderman a lot on this site:
8. Haunted Majora’s Mask
This is a more contemporary but still extremely unsettling urban legend. The first discussion of this particular modern myth happens in 2007 – a user on the message board 4chan posted the following:
“Okay, /x/, I need your help with this. This is not copypasta, this is a long read, but I feel like my safety or well-being could very well depend on this. This is video game related, specifically Majora’s Mask, and this is the creepiest shit that has ever happened to me in my entire life.”
It’s hard to describe the entirety of what happens in this story – I don’t feel like I could do it justice here by just retelling it – instead, you can read the whole thing here. It’s worth it, trust me.
7. Nam Koo Terrace
This is a less well known, but no less creepy urban legend. It takes us all the way to Hong Kong – there is an abandoned building called Nam Koo Terrace that hasn’t been renovated or redeveloped, despite its prime location and Hong Kong’s lack of sufficient housing space. In fact, the building is owned by a major property developer – who knows why they’ve chosen to leave this particular building in its dilapidated state.
The building is close to a hundred years old, and was once owned by a wealthy family. This family was apparently forced to evacuate in WW2 due to the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong – and it is rumored that this building was used by the Japanese as a location for the ‘comfort women’ – essentially a euphemistic term for local women who were forced into sexual slavery to service the Japanese troops.
The remaining member of the wealthy family moved back to Hong Kong after the war, but died shortly after. Since then, the ownership of the building has transferred to other parties, and is now owned by ‘Hopewell Holdings’. The odd thing is that this company has plans to demolish the building and replace it for a luxury hotel – their plan was even approved by the government, but for unknown reasons, this plan was never executed – and the building is still standing today, and remains vacant and unused.
Now here is the interesting part. Locals have often referred to the building as a haunted house – it is said that the spirits of the comfort women who died there remain in the building, and there are numerous accounts of people hearing screams and strange lights from inside the house.
It is reported that in the 1960s, a young girl came out of the house and started trying to attack nearby police officers with extreme violence. Apparently, there had been an attempted exorcism inside the property prior to this happening.
It wasn’t the last time something strange occurred inside those walls. In 2003, a group of eight teenage girls decided to put this ‘haunted’ idea to the test – they went to Nam Koo Terrace with the intention of spending the night there – perhaps they wanted a glimpse of the supernatural.
Well, they apparently got exactly what they asked for – three of the eight students are reported to have become extremely agitated whilst in the property, and one girl in particular is said to have had a psychotic break – as the girls panicked and fled out of the house, this one girl stayed behind, either unwilling or unable to step outside the confines of the gate. It was reported that this one girl had also taken on a different personality and was speaking in a voice that didn’t sound like her own.
The police were called, and when they tried to lead the girl off the property, she responded with violence – it took two grown police officers to subdue the unhinged teenage girl, and later she and the two other distressed girls were sent to the hospital for psychiatric treatment.
Over the years, there have also been a number of bodes found inside the house or on the grounds – apparently as many as 30 suicides have occurred around the location – some bodies were recovered from the rooms, and some needed to be cut down from trees in the garden.
Apparently, people who go into the house have visions of a bloody drenched or decapitated woman and hear piercing shrieks (even if they cover up their ears) – others have also said to have witnessed a man, dressed all in black, roaming the corridors in the property.
The official stance of the company that owns the property is that they plan to let it stay standing due to its status as a historical building – despite their previous plans for demolishing it.
Keep in mind – while some of the claims about the building may be exaggerated, the story regarding the experiences of the 8 teenage girls has been confirmed – in fact, it was reported by a number of newspapers at the time. You can see the original chinese newspaper article here:
6. Clown statue
The urban legend of the clown statue takes place in the residence of a wealthy family. A teenage girl is babysitting two children, one boy and one girl, as a favor to a family friend. The parents are going out on a date night, and the father asks the babysitter to stay in a specific room to watch TV after she puts the kids to bed – the parents don’t really want her roaming around the house.
The kids have gone to bed, and the babysitter goes into the room to watch TV and wait for the parents to return – but she notices a clown statue in the corner of the room as she’s settling in. Clown statues are inherently creepy, but she tries to ignore it for a while, but the room begins to feel more and more unsettling as time goes on. Her pulse is racing and she’s beginning to panic, so she calls the father and says “I put the kids to bed already – is it alright if I move into another room? This weird clown statue is really unsettling.”
The father immediately tells her to get the kids and to immediately go to the neighbor’s house and call 911.
She asks him if anything is wrong and he tells her to just do it and call back when she’s at the neighbor’s.
So she rushes to get the kid, goes to the neighbor’s house, and asks if she can use the phone to call the police. After all that, she dials the father again and asks him for an explanation.
He tells her that they don’t have a clown statue in the house, and that the two kids have recently been complaining of a clown monitoring as they sleep .He says they’ve been having nightmares about a clown.
The police arrive, and apparently the ‘statue’ is a man – some versions say he was a midget, others say he was a convicted murder or sex offender.
Who really knows the truth about this one? What I do know is that if I ever see a clown statue in the same room that I’m in, I’m getting the heck out of there.
5. Black Eyed Children
In the late 1990s, a journalist named Brian Bethel had an unnerving experience in his town of Abilene, Texas , where he works for the ‘Abilene Reporter-News’, the local newspaper. Whether or not you believe his accounts of his experience, you should know that this is a real person – so at the very least, we know the premise of this scary urban legend is not a hoax – there is at least one person on the record (and a journalist no less) who claims that this happened to him.
Brian posted about this unsettling encounter in a mailing list in 1998, but he has since stated that the actual event probably occurred in the summer of 1996. He was in the town of Abilene, sitting in his car and attempting using the light of a nearby building – a movie theatre – to try a write out a check to pay his internet provider. He hears someone tapping on the window on the driver’s side. He looks up and sees two boys, neither of them older than about 16. They’re dressed in hoodies, standing outside his locked car door.
He rolls down the window, not sure of what to expect, when the hairs on the back of his neck begin to stand on end. An inexplicable dread-like fear grabs hold of him. One of the boys begins to talk to Brian, and the boy explains that he and his friend need a ride – that they wanted to go to catch a movie, but they left their cash at home and needed a ride home to fetch it.
While the conversation seemed innocuous, the paralyzing fear the Brian felt hadn’t dispersed – in fact, the pit of dread in his stomach continued to expand. He couldn’t understand why he was feeling this way, but he was terribly afraid.
As the conversation continued, Brian glanced up at the theatre building. He saw that the last movie of the night had already begun – by the time he drove the two boys home and got back to the theatre, there wouldn’t any movies left for them to see. As Brian thought about this, the older boy, the one was doing all the speaking, started to get more pushy. He was saying that they were just kids, and that it wouldn’t take long. He said that it’s not like they were armed or anything.
This last part only unsettled Brian even more.
Despite his fear, he felt his hand straying towards the lock on the car door – when he realized this, he yanked his hand away. He looked up at the boys to see if they had registered his unnaturally hand movements – and that’s when he claims his blood ran cold.
Both the children had eyes that were fully black as pitch. No iris. No pupil.
That’s when Brian’s panic reached its apex – he muttered an apology, hastily rolled up the window, and drove away with haste. As his car pulled away, the older boy knocked on the window with some force. Brian claims he then said the following:
“We can’t come in unless you tell us it’s OK. LET US IN.”
As Brian hurriedly drove away, he looked back in his rearview mirror. The two boys were gone.
Being a journalist, Brian recorded what he saw, which is why the accounts of his experience are so well preserved, even across different sources.
After Brian’s detailed and thorough recounting of his experience got buzz on the internet, there have many more people coming out of the woodwork who claim to have had similar experiences. Many of them share similarities – it always seems to be groups of two children, though they apparently aren’t always two boys. They always seem to asking for help – some people report that the children knock late and night and ask to use their restrooms. There is even one case of a Marine claiming that he had a similar experience in his barracks. The children also seem to consistently request that they be ‘Let inside’ – whether it’s a car, a house, or a military barracks, it seems they cannot enter where they aren’t invited.
It’s unknown what actually happens if you let the BEK (Black Eyed Kids) in – those who have done so may not be around to give us the details of their encounters. It may be that the entire thing is a hoax. But if that’s the case, why would Brian Bethel, by all accounts a normal person and a successful journalist, put his reputation and credibility on the line by making up a story?
I don’t know for sure whether this creepy urban legend is true or not – on the other hand, I know exactly what to do if two young kids ever tap on my car window in the dead of night, asking for a ride.
I won’t even roll down the windows.
Black Eyed Children (Older Post)
4. The Red Room (Akai Heya)
This is another urban legend hailing from Japan, so you can assume all the quoted text was originally in Japanese. It concerns a Japanese popup ad and a teenage boy. He hears about an internet ad that supposedly leads to death, and being a fan of horror fan, when he gets home he starts actively looking for this supposedly deadly popup, but he’s unable to find anything on the subject. As he’s about to give up, a small red window pops up in the corner of the screen. The ad is very plain – it has red background and plain black text, and only contains the following question: “Do you like?”
Apparently, when the teenage boy closed the popup ad, it reappears. Being tech savvy, he tried running his anti-virus software, but his computer was clean. He tried closing the ad again, but it reappeared in the same way as before.
He tries everything – turning off the computer, unplugging it – everything. But all this is to no avail – the popup just won’t go away. Frustrated, he decides to just close the ad as many times as it takes for it to go away. After doing this a few times, he begins to realize that the ad isn’t the same – it seems to be slowly revealing more letters as he closes it each successive time.
“Do you like th”
“Do you like the r”
“Do you like the red r”
“Do you like the red roo”
“Do you like the red room?”
Apparently, this teenager was found to have committed suicide the next, and the police found his walls covered with blood.
OK, I admit – this story isn’t super scary, particularly because it’s a bit dated. It actually originates from a flash animation( which you can still find here). Here’s the scary part.
A horrible tragedy occurred on June 1st, 2004, in Sasebo, Japan. A young girl, nicknamed ‘Nevada-tan’ by the Japanese online community, brutally murdered an older classmate, named Satomi Mitarai. Satomi was only 12, and Nevada-tan was even younger – only 11.
Nevada-tan apparently committed this heinous act because the Satomi had posted an online comment about her, saying she was a ‘goody-goody. The murder itself was barbarous – the two girls were in an empty classroom, and Nevada-tan used a knife to slashed her classmate’s arms and throatafter which she apparently returned to her own classroom, drenched in the victim’s blood.
Japan was shocked by this incident, and in particular the community of Sasebo was questioning how an 11-year old could commit such a terrible crime, particularly since the girl who committed the crime was considered thoroughly normal. After some police investigation, one potential reason was discovered.
In Nevada-tan’s internet browser, the very first bookmark was the flash video of The Red Room.
3. The Bunny Man
This particular creepy folktale originates from Virginia, and while local Virginians are familiar with the story, it is less widely known in other parts of the US.
In 1904, a local mental asylum was shut down due to public outrage – nobody wanted to live near the asylum, and this damaged the reputation of the nearby area and hurt the local economy. The government made arrangements to have the patients in the asylum transferred, but the transfer bus crashed, and some of the inmates managed to escape into the forest, while others died at the scene. As the authorities acted quickly, tracking down all of the escaped patients except for two – Marcus Lawster, and Douglas Griffen. As the search continued, the locals who lived in the area began to find the carcasses of rabbits on the ground, and hanging from trees. These rabbits were skinned, and some of them seemed to have been partially consumed by whoever killed them.
The authorities eventually tracked down Marcus Lawster – or what was left of him. The corpse of Lawster was found in similar condition to the rabbits – hanging from a tree at at the entrance of a tunnel under a bridge. The police eventually did track down the killer, but he was hit by an oncoming train as he tried to escape the authorities. The killer was the other missing inmate – Douglas Griffen – and it was eventually revealed that he had been committed into the mental asylum because he had killed his own wife and children on Easter Sunday. The bridge was nicknamed The Bunny Man Bridge by locals, and the name persists today.
This is another urban legend that becomes creepier as you read around the subject. The bridge in question, actually called the Colchester Overpass, is still referred to as the Bunny Man Bridge by locals – and for a good reason. If there weren’t any continued reports of strange activity in and around the Overpass, it is unlikely the original story would have survived this long. In 1970, there were reports of Virginians coming across a violent and aggressive man dressed in a bunny costume and wielding an axe. There were numerous reports of this occurring both before and after Halloween in 1970.
Throughout the years, there have been a number of reported sightings of this strange, axe-wielding man in a bunny costume in Virginia, and apparently there have been sightings as far away as Washington D.C.
2. The Smiling Man
The story of the smiling man is quite an unsettling one. This modern urban legend surfaced on the web about two years ago – the first sighting was posted on Reddit by a (presumably) young man who’s name we don’t know. This reportedly happened in 2011, and is a basic recounting of this young man’s experience.
In his account of the story, the young man states that at the time he was living in a major metropolitan city (it seems that it is now known that the city in question is Seattle). He describes himself as a night owl and says that he had gotten into the habit of frequently taking walks at night to pass the time and to clear his head. He had done this for close to four years and never had an issue, not even in the twilight hours – this is despite the fact that he lived in a major city. The encounter happened on a quiet night, and the street that the young man was was walking on was basically devoid of cars and other people.
He had already been out walking for some time, so he decided it was about time to turn around and start heading home. It was as he was turning around when he first saw silhouette of a stranger who appeared to be dancing – more specifically, he looked like he was waltzing. At the same time, he was slowly edging his way towards the younger man. Every three or four steps of the stranger’s dance was punctuated with one step towards the storyteller.
The young man decided that the stranger was probably drunk, and he so he gave the drunk stranger a wide berth and moved to the very edge of the sidewalk to avoid any interaction. As the stranger’s silhouette became more and more visible in the dim city streets, the young man realized that this odd stranger was actually moving very gracefully – almost like a trained dancer – and was unlikely to be inebriated. He noted that the stranger was unusually tall and lanky, and was wearing a faded suit.
As this tall stranger came closer still, he stepped under a streetlamp and the young man finally caught a proper glimpse of his face. His head was tilted backwards, his eyes were wide open, looking upwards at the sky, and he had a unnaturally large, cartoonish grin on his face.
The young man, clearly (and very understandably) unsettled by this odd stranger, decided to cross the street to avoid getting too close to this clearly deranged man. He crosses the street, and when he gets to the other side, he takes a glance back and finds the stranger gone. For a moment, the young man is relieved, but he spots the stranger again out of the corner of his eye, on the other side of the street, directly opposite him – with the same expression, eyes wide open, head tilted upwards, ghoulish smile on his face.
The young man starts to panic – he starts walking at a brisk pace, all the while keeping his eyes on the stranger, who doesn’t move from the spot that he’s standing. Our storyteller glances forward only momentarily to get his bearings, and when he looks behind him again, he sees that the smiling man is looking straight at him from a crouch – the two of them are now on the same side of the street again.
The young man is shocked and how fast the smiling man seems to move – he stands there in shock, and the smiling man starts to tiptoe, with large steps, like the ones cartoon characters do when they’re trying to sneak around – except in this case, the stranger is moving fast.
For whatever reason, the storyteller doesn’t just GTFO– he stands there, and tries to scare the smiling man off by swearing at him, but apparently he was so tense that barely any sound escaped his throat. The smiling man at this point is a half a block away from the storyteller, still smiling and half gazing at the sky with his head tilted backwards. At this point, he slowly turned around, and started dancing away, moving in the same way as he was before. The young man watched him intently as he faded in the distance. Just as his pulse was finally starting to slow down, he sees the distant silhouette getting larger and larger – the smiling man is not dancing anymore – he is running, straight towards the storyteller.
At this point, the young man basically bolts – he runs as fast as he can to an area where there were more people and some car traffic. He gets home safely. But he says he longer enjoys taking long walks at night.
This account of the smiling man is in fact not the only one, although it was the first. In fact, there is a whole subreddit dedicated to the sightings of this strange, unsettling figure (http://www.reddit.com/r/TheSmilingMan). As of yet, it’s unclear it’s not totally clear who or what The Smiling Man is – he could just be a guy hopped up on some drugs, or an insane person. You can see the original post here. There has also been a short film reenacting the original sighting, which does quite a good job if it – you can watch it below:
1. Midnight Game
This urban legend is the only one which you can choose to experience for yourself, if you’re so inclined. The Midnight Game is the popular name for a supposed ancient Pagan ritual. It’s somewhat similar to the creepy Bloody Mary urban legend – you can think of the Midnight Game as the 21st century version of the myth of Bloody Mary.
If you want to try the Midnight Game for yourself (and frankly, I’m not sure why you would), you’ll need the following list of things:
- A candle
- A location with a wooden door
- A few drops of your own blood
- A blank piece of paper
- A lighter, or a box of matchers
- Salt (extremely important)
If you are planning to do this with other people, each person needs their own set of these items. I honestly don’t recommend that you go ahead with trying this – the rumors surrounding this particular, very scary urban legend suggest that this game could very well be lethal, and can also cause permanent psychological damage for those who get out of it physically unscathed.
Again, we highly recommend that you don’t actually do any of these steps – it makes for an interesting read, but frankly it’s not worth the risk. To play the Midnight game, you need to follow these steps:
- It must be exactly 12:00am in your location when you start this ritual, otherwise nothing will happen.
- Write your full name (including your middle name, if you have one) on the blank piece of paper, and also put one drop of your blood on the paper and let the blood soak all the way through.
- Turn all of the lights in your location off. Go to the wooden door, and put the piece of paper in front of the door. Light the candle with a match/lighter, and place that on top of the paper.
- Knock on the wooden door exactly 22 times. The 22nd knock must occur while it’s still 12:00am – meaning you must complete all the steps in less than a minute.
- Open the door, blow out the candle, and close the door again. Once the door is closed, you need to relight the candle as quickly as you can. The midnight game has begun – and you have let the midnight man into the room.
- Your only focus now should be to survive the presence of the Midnight Man. Make sure you keep the candle with you at all times – when it goes out, it means that the Midnight Man is near. In this situation you have about 10 seconds to relight the candle. You should be moving at all times throughout the game. You’ll be able to feel the presence of the Man when he’s close – you’ll start feeling cold, the candle will go out, and you might also hear whisperings or see a black silhouette.
- IMPORTANT: If your candle goes out, and you fail to rekindle it within ten seconds, you need to scatter a circle of salt around yourself.
The game ends at 3:33am. If you failed to relight your candle and you failed with the salt, the common belief is that you will have vivid hallucinations of your deepest and darkest fears – hallucinations which you may never recover from.
At 3:33am, the Midnight Man will leave, after which you will be safe.
DO NOT DO ANY OF THE FOLLOWING THINGS WHILE YOU’RE PLAYING THE MIDNIGHT GAME:
- Turn on the lights
- Use a flashlight
- Go to sleep
- Use another person’s blood for your game
- Substitute a the candle with anything else (e.g a lighter)
- Provoke the Midnight Man
Please note – if you invite the Midnight Man into your life, it’s suggested that he/it never really goes away.
That’s the legend of the Midnight Game. Who knows whether it’s a hoax or not – all I would say is that I definitely would not tempt fate by trying these steps.
If you’re interested in seeing the (modern) source of the Midnight Game, you can read the original instructions here (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/Midnight_Game). The true source is as of yet unknown, but as I mentioned earlier, it is believed to have been a form of Pagan ritual punishment.