Time to Get Your Fright On
Urban legends distinguish themselves from scary stories since they are often claimed to be true, just to add an extra layer of fear. We’ve all heard of some of the more common tales like that of the Hook Man, the ghost hitchhiker or alligators in the sewers but each culture has its own tales of terror.
Unsurprisingly, for truly terrifying tales, we head to Japan. Kuchisake-onna, referred to in English as the “Slit-mouthed woman” can be considered to be a Japanese alternative to Bloody Mary. The story goes that she was once a beautiful woman who was mutilated and then killed by her husband who slit her mouth open from ear to ear. Now she is an evil spirit who targets children walking alone at night.
According to legend, she will approach the children wearing a surgical mask so she doesn’t scare them away. She will stop a child and ask them “Am I pretty?” If the child answers yes, she will remove her mask and ask “How about now?” If the child says yes again she will slit their mouth just like hers. If at any point the child says she is not pretty she will cut them in half.
Originally, the story said that there was no way to escape her. Try to run away and Kuchisake-onna would simply appear in front of you wherever you go. Over the decades, though, various modifications were made to the legend which gave the kids a fighting chance. If the child gives an ambiguous answer when she asks if she is pretty or not, she will apparently be confused and unsure of what to do, allowing the child time to run. If the child anticipates her actions and they themselves ask if they are pretty, she will again become confused and walk away.
2. La Llorona
A very popular legend in Mexico, La Llorona has transitioned to Hollywood as well, making appearances in shows like Supernatural and Grimm. She is sometimes referred to as the Woman in White, although the Weeping Woman is more accurate. Story goes that she was once a woman desperately in love with a man who will not have her. In an attempt to be together, she drowned her children, but was still refused. Then, finally, with no lover and no children, she drowned herself in the same place. However, when she reached the gates of Heaven, she was turned away until she came back with her children. So now she is a spirit trapped in the living world, crying out for her missing children.
La Llorona can be as scary as you want to make her. In some tales, hearing her wailing is a death sentence as she will come after you. The most gruesome version of La Llorona kidnaps children that remind her of her own lost offspring and drowns them in an attempt to bring them with her into the afterlife. Weirdly enough, this is the version most widespread as parents use it to scare kids from wandering alone at night.
3. The Black Volga
Phantom vehicles are a staple of urban legends and the Black Volga is still quite popular to this day throughout Eastern Europe, particularly Russia and Ukraine. It involved a black Volga limousine with white rims that would drive around and abduct children to drain them of their blood. What exactly happened with the blood depends on the story. Sometimes it was used to treat rich people with leukemia while other times it was used for demonic purposes. The driver of the Volga also varied. Sometimes it was an actual person, like an evil priest or a Satanist while other times the driver was a maleficent creature like a vampire, a demon or even the devil himself.
This idea of an evil black car has persisted for decades although, for the sake of keeping things modern, the Volga was eventually replaced in the stories with something a bit more stylish like a BMW. There is a bit of truth to this urban legend as people were usually afraid and avoided black Volga limousines. In the Soviet Union, the Volga was a very expensive and exclusive car, reserved only for important government officials.
4. Aka Manto
Back to Japan for this one. I think that we can all agree that bathroom time is sacred and is a place where we all want to feel safe and secure. Unfortunately, this is exactly where Aka Manto gets you. Also known as the Red Cape, Aka Manto prowls public toilets, usually in schools. But let’s say that one day you need to use a public toilet. You’re doing your business when, all of a sudden, you hear a scary voice coming from the next stall. It asks you if you want red paper or blue paper. Say red paper and you are cut into pieces so that your clothes are stained red. Say blue paper and you are strangled so that you turn blue. Say any other color and you get dragged down to hell. Apparently, the only way to save yourself from Aka Manto is to say that you don’t want any paper.
Other versions of the story have the evil spirit ask if you want a cape or a vest instead of paper. The outcome is different, but the same. Aka Manto will kill you in various ways to replicate the color desired. So, the lesson here is to never ask for any colored paper from strange voices in the toilet.
5. The Bunny Man
We’re going to Virginia to meet the Bunny Man. The name might not be the most intimidating moniker in the world, but the Bunny Man is a deranged maniac who likes to kill people with an axe. Like many good scary stories, this one started with an insane asylum. However, the asylum had been shut down and the residents were being transported to other places when one of the buses crashes. Some of the inmates were killed in the crash while others made their escape. Eventually, all were captured except for one.
It’s not long until people started finding the skinned, half-eaten carcasses of rabbits hanging from trees in the nearby forest, prompting the police to name the escape inmate the Bunny Man. Soon enough, the Bunny Man claimed his first human victim, hanged in the same way from a tree near an overpass dubbed “Bunny Man Bridge”. It is only after this happened that the police find out that the Bunny Man is one Douglas Grifon, institutionalized for killing his family on Easter Sunday.
Now, there are a couple of reasons why this one is definitely creepier than any of the other tales. For starters, it has a real life origin. It goes back to a couple who was supposedly attacked with a hatchet by a man wearing a rabbit costume. The man accused them of trespassing and broke their windshield with the axe. He was later identified and charged. Even creepier is the fact that “Bunny Man Bridge” is also very real. It is actually named Colchester Overpass and, because of its association with the urban legend, it has become a popular attraction for ghost enthusiasts and thrillseekers.