Urban legends have been around for ages, but there are a couple of things that differentiate them from regular popular myths. They are unique in that they consist of supernatural factors, and are native to a town or village’s folklore. The word “legend” implies that these stories delve deep into the culture, and more often than not, the actual source of the story is hard to pinpoint because it’s been around for so long.
Unlike similar lines of thought, such as fairy tales, few morals or guiding principles are to be found in urban legends. However, there is definitely intrigue, and a strong sense of local history, mixed in with a touch of fear and suspense!
Let’s have a look at some of the creepiest urban legends ever told!
1. The Curse of Amen-Ra
This urban legend centers on the sinking of the Titanic, and how the curse of an Ancient Egyptian princess’ mummy was the cause for it’s downfall.
On the night before the Titanic sank, a man by the name of William T. Stead, an English journalist, sat with some of the other passengers, and recounted the curse of Amen-Ra.
He told of how the princess, Amen-Ra, was buried long before the time of Christ, and once her burial ground had been discovered, those who had opened her coffin, had found an inscription cursing all those crossing her path. From that day onwards, wherever her corpse and coffin resided, it would leave a trail of misfortune and a string of inexplicable deaths.
As luck would have it, the corpse of Amen-Ra was being transported to an antiques collector that had purchased it, and was stored aboard the Titanic just as William T. Stead spoke of her curse. Barely 24 hours later, the majestic Titanic came to a bitter and tragic end.
Her coffin can now be found at the British Museum, which leaves many to question whether the mummy was even on the Titanic to begin with, since the coffin was obviously not. There remains plenty of speculation, but either way, it is never a good idea to underestimate the power of an ancient curse!
2. Witches and the Undead in Nigeria
You’ll find that some of the strangest (and creepiest!) urban legends emerge from Africa, and the ones coming straight out of Nigeria in particular are extremely interesting!
Unlike the eerie, ghastly figures we know so well, the ghosts of Nigeria are not interested in haunting the living. In fact, they pretend to start a new life, far from their place of birth or where they resided while actually alive.
Apart from the urban legends of how ghosts live their “lives” in Nigeria, there are plenty of otherworldly creatures deeply entrenched in Nigerian culture, who take on a different guise in the country’s popular memory.
Witches are prominent figures, and are said to come out to play after midnight. They are believed to be the cause of any misfortune that befalls a person or family, and certain rituals must take place in order to banish them, and the curses they inflict on unfortunate souls.
Snakes are also perceived to be incredibly evil within Nigerian culture. Children are told not to hiss at night; otherwise the snakes will find a way into their beds and bite them.
And while mermaids are seen as beautiful and enchanting creatures of the sea, to Nigerians they are deceiving monsters that lure men into lairs with their mesmerizing beauty, only to later to reveal their ugly nature. The reality of their true form is not entirely clear, but according to legend, once they have shown themselves to their victims, they are bound to them forever.
This is more of a modern day urban legend created via the Internet.
Slenderman is said to be an extremely tall human-like being with no facial features, and has appendages resembling tentacles capable of stretching out to great distances. He is depicted as an extremely sinister and dangerous entity. The biggest danger presented by Slenderman is how he selves into his victim’s minds, painfully driving them to the brink of insanity.
When angered, he will attack his victim with such force that they disappear into unknown realms, never to be seen again. His presence can be sensed when an awkward or strange disturbance hits electronic devices such as cell phones.
This urban legend creeped its way into the real world when the wildly popular case of two 12 year old girls made headlines, with their terribly misguided plan to invoke the Slenderman. They hoped to appease him by taking their friend into the woods, stabbing her 19 times, and leaving her corpse out in the enveloping darkness.
However, the urban mythos of the Slenderman remains a source of popular fascination, and has led to the creation of a documentary and other artistic works.
This urban legend originates in Japan. The story is that Kuchisake-Onna was a normal woman who committed the cardinal sin of cheating on her husband. In a rage after making the discovery, he proceeded to slice her mouth open from both ends. Naturally, she died immediately after the mutilation took place.
As legend would have it, she emerged from the grave, blinded by vengeance over the act committed against her. She is said to wander the streets, asking all she comes across if they think that she’s still pretty. If anyone answers “no”, she would proceed to stab them with a p
air of scissors that she carries around with her. However, if the answer is “yes”, she would remove her mask and then ask, “How about now?” if the answer is “No” again, then she would kill that individual right there and then.
If the answer would have been, by some strange occurrence, “Yes”, then she would be kind enough to make sure that that person were blessed with the same beauty and cut him or her in the same manner – from ear to ear.
5. The Russian Sleep Experiment
This urban legend is definitely questionable, but it has been assumed that its roots are set in an actual series of events that may or may have not occurred.
The “sleep experiment” was carried out by Russian scientists on a number of prison inmates forced to spend their sentence in a sealed chamber, in which a two-way mirror allowed scientists to observe the effect lack of sleep would have on them. They managed to deprive them of the need to sleep by releasing a gas designed to do so.
The experiment took place over the course of fourteen days, and what happened within this time is the kind of stuff gory, gruesome horror movies are made of.
They naturally began to suffer from paranoia and eventually hallucinations, leading them slowly into insanity. When the scientists saw that the inmates had lost complete control, they decided to cut the experiment short and refilled the chamber with fresh air. However, this did little to heal their condition, and what the scientists came to behold once they entered the chamber would be sure to haunt them for the rest of their lives.
Instead of relishing the fresh air that was finally provided them, they begged that the gas be turned back on. One man was found lying in a pool of blood, while the others had somehow managed to disembowel themselves. The scientists were mortified at the creatures that stood before them, and in utter and absolute terror, asked them what they had become, to which one of the inmates answered, “We are you. We are the madness that lurks within you all, begging to be free at every moment in your deepest animal mind. We are what you hide from in your beds every night. We are what you sedate into silence and paralysis when you go to the nocturnal haven where we cannot tread.”
Eternal Supply of Urban Legends
The world is full of hundreds, maybe thousands of deeply rooted urban legends that are an intriguing mix of fact and fiction, blurring into one another. They have been around for so long because, in a way, they attempt to give meaning to inexplicable occurrences. They serve as a reminder that there is always more to our world than the naked eye can see.