Urban legends are stories we all love to hear—and love to be scared by. Everyone can relate to these spooky tales that send chills up your spine. They start early, too—as a teenager, you probably heard about that one desolate dirt road in your hometown that locals were convinced was plagued by witches or Satanists. Or there was that dilapidated house high on the hill that was rumored to be haunted.
Every person knows of at least one terrifying urban legend that they tell around the campfire late at night. In honor of this Halloween season, here are 12 sinister tales that are guaranteed to spook and thrill. Worst of all, some of these stories may be true! Tell them to your friends on a dark night and see how long it takes for them to shiver in fear.
There’s an eerie town in Connecticut that locals refer to as a “dark vortex.” Rumor has it that if any visitor steals an artifact from the area, they will have a horrible curse put on them. Moreover, visitors have reported seeing orbs of light, wolfish black shadows, and hearing disembodied voices. The topper is a mysterious group that calls themselves the Dark Forest Association that regularly patrols the grounds.
2. Arizona’s Skinwalkers
Driving through a desolate desert at night is creepy enough. However, throw a shapeshifting, half-human monster into the mix and you’re bound to be scared silly. Arizona’s Skinwalker urban legend has become so entrenched in the state’s culture that, back in 1987, when a Navajo woman was found brutally murdered in Flagstaff, the defense team said that the gruesome attack could have only been committed by a Skinwalker.
3. Seven Gates of Hell
Though the state of Pennsylvania may be scenic, it can also be super spooky. The Seven Gates of Hell is a modern tale that centers around a burnt-down asylum in a heavily wooded area of York County. It is fabled that anyone who passes through all seven gates is sent straight to hell.
4. The Watcher
A New Jersey urban legend that creeped its way to viral fame in 2015, the Watcher is the tale of a young family moving into their dream home in Westfield. Shortly after they had settled in, they began receiving anonymous letters signed by “The Watcher.” The writer claimed that it was his duty to “watch over” the house and filled the letters with chilling lines such as “Do you need to fill the house with the young blood I requested?” Even worse, the inhabitants of the house are still receiving creepy letters to this day.
5. Bloody Mary
One of the most famous urban legends is the myth of Bloody Mary. Go into a room, turn the lights out, and look into the mirror while saying her name three times. Your girl Mary will then appear!
In the earliest versions of this tale, an unwed woman would see the face of the man she’d marry in the glass. However, if she was destined to die alone, she’d see a skull.
The story eventually evolved into something more sinister where participants would see the bloody face of a woman. Do you dare summon her
6. The 13th Child
Way back in 1735, a woman who lived in the expansive woods of New Jersey’s secluded Pine Barrens cursed the birth of her thirteenth child. Born a freak of nature, the bat-winged and cloven-hooved creature has been terrorizing the area ever since. Sightings became so widespread that it’s rumored that the Philadelphia Zoo posted a $10,000 reward for the capture of the beast.
This legendary monster is said to roam the deserts of New Mexico and resembles a bear-sized dog with spikes along its back and glowing eyes. It can fly and sucks the blood of cattle and other livestock. In fact, the name “chupacabra” literally translates to “goat-sucker.”
8. The Licked Hand
If you’re a pet lover, skip on to the next tale, please! This brutal urban legend depicts a scared, young girl who is spending the night home alone for the very first time. While trying to sleep, she hears an ominous dripping noise coming from her bathroom. Too spooked to investigate, she curls up under the covers, reaching down to find reassurance in her faithful dog who licks her hand from the floor. The next morning, she decides to investigate the strange sound only to find her beloved pet slaughtered and a terrifying message written in blood across the bathroom wall: “humans can lick hands too.”
9. Bunny Man
Despite the adorable name, Bunny Man is anything but. A dude from Virginia, Bunny Man dresses up as a rabbit and kills people with an ax. There’s also an entire bridge named after him. Around Halloween time, this guy is said to go around skinning innocent rabbits and hanging the bodies on Bunny Man bridge. Feel free to see for yourself this October.
Vintage video gamers have been talking about this strange arcade game since the early 1980s. Called Polybius, this game supposedly has strange, and sometimes lethal, effects on its players. It can prompt feelings of amnesia, disorientation, and even suicide. Moreover, men would occasionally visit arcades to gather data from the game before vanishing. Was this game some type of awful CIA experiment? Sadly, since arcades are a thing of the past, we’ll never know.
11. The Hook
This classic urban legend tells the story of a serial killer with a hook for a hand. This slasher would attack couples in parked cars in remote areas. One time, a couple heard a scraping sound on their car door and drove off in fear. When they were a safe distance away, they got out to inspect the car and found a hook lodged in the door.
12. The Spider Bite
We’ve saved the more disgusting for last. Lucky you! As the legend goes, a woman traveling in some foreign land returns home with a big pimple on her face. Despite her many attempts to alleviate the zit, it turns into a huge boil. One night, the boil pops and hundreds of baby spiders emerge from the woman’s flesh.
While some of these urban legends are completely made-up, others are based on fact. However, all of them will keep you up at night!