Urban legends are stories that are meant to scare us and typically serve as a warning or have some type of moral lesson attached. Every state has their own urban legends, some states even share legends, changing the details to fit their locale or whichever narrative is needed, but the core plot stay the same. The ones I have chosen for this list are the creepiest found in the USA, and some of them are based on real-life true stories! Can you figure out which ones?
Turn on the Light
After partying most of the night, a co-ed decides to spend the night with a boy she met at the party. She returns to dorm room to retrieve her keys, careful not to wake her roommate. In the dark room she can hear the sleeping roommate’s heavy breathing and assumes she’s got a cold. When she returns the next day, she finds her roommate’s dead body and the note written in blood on the wall, “Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light?”
This story is sometimes told with the co-ed being more studious and returning to retrieve a book for an all-night study session, but the end-result is always the same. This legend has been around 50 years or more and most likely was started by a parent worried about their college-bound kid.
Moral of the Story: Screw your roommate’s feelings, always turn on the damn light.
One night, a woman who lives alone with her nice little dog, hears on the radio that an escaped lunatic is on the loose in her town. She locks up the house tight and goes to bed with her faithful canine companion, who stays close by her bedside all night. When the woman wakes the next morning, she finds her pooch slaughtered and note written in blood on the bathroom mirror, “Humans can lick too.”
Some variations of this legend feature an old woman and sometimes, a young girl. Sometimes she wakes in the middle of the night, hearing a dripping sound, and sometimes, the pet is alive and well at the end. Like the ‘Turn on the Light’ legend, the killer rubs the survivor’s nose in the fact that they barely escaped death.
Moral of the Story: You’re never going to be in control of your own death and maybe you should get a cat.
Decades after their release, we still enjoy watching scary classic horror films. Some movies on my list are considered to be pillars of the horror genre, created sub-genres of their own and set the bar for generations of filmmakers to come.
15. House on Haunted Hill (1959) Vincent Price, Carol Ohmart
An eccentric millionaire offers five strangers $10,000 if they can spend one whole night with him and his estranged 4th wife in a haunted house.
Some actually consider this film comical or fun, but taking into account that audiences were not as knowledgeable about horror films gimmicks, as they are today, this movie was quite scary for its time. Director Williams Castle used camera tricks, shadows, ugly witches and skeletons to create the quintessential haunted house movie.
14. The Body Snatcher (1945) Boris Karloff, Henry Daniell
A ruthless doctor and his young student get into trouble with their murderous supplier of illegal cadavers.
Based on the short story of Robert Louis Stevenson, a fictional account of the real life surgeon Robert Knox and the murderous exploits of his corpse suppliers, Burke & Hare, this film was dark, disturbing and featured some fine acting from Boris Karloff. Some people even consider Karloff’s role as the Cabman and grave robber John Gray better than his turn as Frankenstein’s monster. This was the last movie that Karloff and Lugosi would appear in together.
13. Nosferatu (1922) Max Schrek, Greta Schroder
An ancient vampire named Count Orlock leaves his home in Carpathian mountains by ship, terrorizes the crew, and eventually settles in the little town of Wisborg, where he sets his sights on the beautiful wife of his real estate agent.
Unlike Dracula, Max Schrek’s vampire wasn’t suave or sexy. No, this creature was more like animal that prowled around in the dark before pouncing on victims. Like other German Expressionist films, this is a silent film, however, not original, as the filmmakers were almost sued out of existence by the Stoker estate for ripping off the Dracula story.
Why we love them: Creepy cute art blends the best of two worlds. Diana Levin’s colorful and whimsical style mixed with the dark Gothic tones is a feast for the eyes. In addition to drawing some delightfully creepy versions of pop culture and fabled characters, her own original character drawings are exquisite. Diana’s creative art inspires the imagination, which might explain how partner Shawn Givens comes up with all those spooky stories for their book series, The Ghoulish Grimoire.
Happy Friday! I wasn’t going to share a Halloween bucket list until early next month, but after thinking about it, October is only a few days away and there’s only 31 days to celebrate. So, here it is. Have a happy and safe Halloween season!
It’s that time again. Time for all the kiddos to go back to school. Hollywood has long picked on teens to sell their worst nightmares to the delight of horror fans all over the world. Just when you thought there was nothing scarier than teenage angst and rampant acne, here’s ten Back to School thrillers that will make you glad that you’ve already graduated.
Prom Night (1980)
Chance of being killed is absolutely a good reason to skip the prom.
Four high schoolers, who made a pact in grade school never to reveal their involvement in the accidental death of a friend, are stalked by a masked killer on Prom Night, the anniversary of the death.
Unless you’re a diehard Idris Elba fan (which I am), I suggest watching original over the 2008 version. With Halloween and The Fog under her belt, star Jamie Lee Curtis secured the title of Scream Queen with Prom Night. The movie’s disco soundtrack became more popular with fans than the movie itself, but a copyright lawsuit killed its chances of US release. Original soundtrack was only released in Japan, making it a rarity among collectors but bootlegs are easily found these days.
Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
No one sleeps through the night in this neighborhood.
Four teenagers are stalked through their dreams by the vengeful spirit of a janitor, and alleged child murderer, who was killed by the teen’s parents, years ago.
This film gave birth to one of horror’s most iconic killers, Freddy Krueger, played by the charismatic Robert Englund, and superstar Johnny Depp, in his film debut; and, it also saved New Line Cinema from bankruptcy, when the film made a killing at the box office. The screech of Krueger’s clawed glove is second most hair-raising sound in horror, the first being, the infamous chainsaw.
Halloween is coming and along with it, peoples’ unwarranted opinions. If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s the Halloween haters, people who want to outright ban Halloween from existence. Haters really bring us down, they spread lies and misinformation and steal our precious time and energy. Now, you could get stabby and go to jail, or, you could deal with them like a grown-up. The first step is figuring out who’s who and what they want. Then, you can draw up an effective game plan to get the fools off your back!
To be fair, most dentists don’t hate Halloween, it keeps them in business after all, but they do hate cavities, and candy causes cavities. No one on the block wants to be known as a detriment to children’s dental health. So, if your local gums doctor is making you feel guilty, here are two easy solutions: 1) offer healthier snacks, i.e., pretzels, graham crackers or organic fruit snacks, and 2) offer alternative treats, i.e., money, Halloween themed little puzzles, games, toys, buttons, erasures, pencils, crayons, stickers, temporary tattoos, yo-yos, and my personal favorite, glow sticks and glow bracelets.
Like dentists, Christmas lovers don’t really hate Halloween either. They just love Christmas more! Their season is coming and they’re anxious to get to it. Just like we are now, wanting summer to end early, they can’t wait to push out the Great Pumpkin and usher in Santa Claus.
Halloween and Christmas have a lot in common. So, talk about that. Let them know you completely understand where they’re coming from. Share your ideas. Many décor ideas, recipes and traditions are easily swappable between the holidays. Halloween and Christmas go together like peanut butter and jelly, just look at Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas.
If never fails, every year, social justice rears its ugly head and throws up all over your Halloween decorations. There’s always that one hipster guy who tries to guilt you, by suggesting Halloween is just corporate scheme to sucker consumers into buying, buying, buying, to line the overstuffed pockets of some fat cat on Wall St. If you live in America, there’s just no good counter-argument to capitalism gone wild.
However, if you find yourself in this debate, kindly mention, that between the millennials’ penchant for simple, less costly celebrations and families searching for fun and safe alternatives to trick-or-treating, Halloween is coming full circle. Home parties and parades are making a comeback. The excess and indulgence of years past are dying out and communities are coming together for events, like Harvest celebrations, carnivals and trunk-or-treating. Now more than ever, people are aware of Halloween history and celebrating the old traditions.
Sometimes the biggest enemies are our own kind. Halloween snobbery accounts for more disgruntled posts from Halloweenophiles than any other complaint. Everyone needs to keep this in mind, there is no right or wrong way to celebrate Halloween! This goes for those trying to impose age limits on trick-or-treating. There are none. Teens can absolutely go trick-or-treating, and I for one, would rather see that than hearing about teens hanging out in some back alley, where they’re much more likely to find trouble.
Halloween is a global holiday, and everyone has the right to celebrate in a way that fits their beliefs, lifestyle and personality. It’s truly the one holiday where diversity thrives. It’s a little ridiculous to try and make people only adhere to your beliefs and customs, when honoring the spirit of Halloween is all about sharing love for the holiday with others.
No one should apologize for expressing themselves on their favorite holiday, but if you are a person who likes to recreate gory horror movie scenes in the front yard, you must understand that children don’t process scenes of violence and horror in the same way adults do. There is such a thing as too far, especially if kids don’t understand what it is that they’re seeing. Now, most people aren’t complete sociopaths or too egotistical to compromise for the sake of the neighborhood. I mean, Halloween season comes once a year. Do you really want to start a bitter feud over painted foam and casting rubber?
When confronted over gory yard displays, hear your neighbors out. Don’t be dismissive, rather try to have good open communication. If you’re nice, neighbors might be more willing to compromise with you as well. You could agree to cover up certain scary props with a sheet until Halloween night. Maybe the lights are too bright or animatronics are too noisy and neighbors can’t sleep. You could agree to give your neighbors a reprieve by turning everything off early, or running the yard display only two or three times a week, instead of every night.
The true Halloween hater. The person who uses religion as the basis for wanting to ban Halloween. They believe Halloween perpetuates sin, corrupts the innocent and celebrates demons and witchcraft, and is all about worshipping the devil. This is all nonsense and just another chapter in the centuries’ old persecution of pagans.
For that reason, there’s little you can say to change their minds. So, it’s important to stop the spread of lies and misinformation instead. When confronted by angry churchgoers, inform them, that there have been more concerted efforts to bring back more traditional harvest celebrations and family-friendly Halloween, alleviating all talk about devil worship and witches. Remind them that pagan celebrations were already accepted by the church centuries ago, that’s how we got Halloween in the first place. And, if they start complaining about all the sex and gluttony associated with Halloween, well, that’s about the time you explain the idea of psychological projection.
Honestly, I never really understood the hatred. I mean, if the original purpose of Halloween was to ward off evil spirits, then, bible thumpers should be thanking us for keeping everybody safe!
Just remember, in all situations that keeping your cool is number one priority. Have a happy Halloween season!
Halloween lovers and horror fans (aka screamers) gathered over the weekend at the Long Beach Convention Center to kick-off the unofficial start of the 2018 Halloween season, as Midsummer Scream returned for its third year. This spectacular convention celebrates Halloween, haunts and horror. Here’s a recap of convention highlights:
Hall of Shadows
The Hall of Shadows was split this year between haunters, vendors, filmmakers and special effects on one side, and the interactive scare zone on the other, where SoCal’s top haunters previewed their upcoming spooky haunts for fall.
The Hall main stage featured everything from zombie burlesque to the classical quartet Nostalgic Nebula. The flexible and talented Decayed Brigade, SoCal Sliders, returned with a brand new show. My personal favorites were Murder House Production’s Trick ‘r Treat maze and The Haunt Store’s display of those awesome AtmosFX projections.
Six Flag Unleashed showed off their glow-in-the-dark world, with the most talented folks on stilts I’ve ever seen.
Warner Bros. Studio Tours showed off costumes and props from It and The Nun, in promotion of the upcoming Horror Made Here: A Festival of Frights, starting in October.
The Show Floor
This year, there was an abundance of creepy and unique creations from some exceptionally talented artists and creators, where screamers could find everything and anything relating to Halloween and horror.
Screamers over 21 were able to get a blue wristband and purchase adult beverages at bar stations around the convention hall, or one of two cash bar attractions hosted by Sinister Pointe’s Scary Place and Slashback Video, courtesy of Bearded Lady’s Mystic Museum.
SoCal Valley Haunters & Classrooms
Thinking of creating your own decorations for Halloween but don’t know where to start? Well, Midsummer Scream had you covered. On the Show Floor, SoCal Valley Haunters taught screamers how to create their own tombstones, carve foam pumpkins, make lanterns and village displays, with the help of Dept. 56. Down the hall, classes on Halloween floral arrangements, budget decorating, yard displays and more, inspired a whole new generation of Halloween designers.
Theater Macabre, Black Cat Lounge, Screaming Room and Second Stage
Screamers flocked to the upstairs second floor, where they could fall in love with rescue kittens in the Black Cat Lounge, or attend haunt shows and theater presentations from Bob Baker Marionette Theater, Zombie Joe’s Underground Theater Urban Death, and many others. Inside the Screaming room, screamers could watch horror shorts and listen to spooky stories. A nice respite for weary feet.
The Grand Ballroom
The Grand Ballroom, which seats about 2100 people, offered sneak peek presentations on this fall’s upcoming horror theme park and haunted attractions, and two very special panels:
On Saturday, screamers celebrated the 30th anniversary of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark movie, where they were treated to interview clips of cast of the movie and with amusing, funny and witty anecdotes from the Mistress of the Dark herself, Cassandra Peterson.
On Sunday, screamers packed the room again for the 25th anniversary of Hocus Pocus and hear behind-the-scene stories. After an incredible live performance from The Unauthorized Musical Parody of Hocus Pocus, the panel featured actress Thora Birch, who played Dani, producer David Kirschner, screenwriter Mick Garris, composer John Debney, production designer William Sandell and make-up and special effects artist Tony Gardner.
The fabulous Cassandra Peterson spent two days signing autographs at her booth, where Elvira’s Boo-tique and Sweet Hollywood were selling candy, clothing, novelty items and other amazing Elvira wares. I swear this woman has done a deal with devil or something because she does not age! This past year, Cassandra retired Elvira from doing Knott’s Scary Farm and I heard she’s cutting back her schedule, possibly to work on an autobiography? In any event, it’s so great to see her at Midsummer Scream. I hope she returns next year!
That pretty much wraps up my experience. I’m sure I missed a ton of stuff because there’s just so much to do and see.
Midsummer Scream is now my favorite horror convention. I have a feeling this show is only going to grow and get better. Highly recommended for Halloween and horror fans.
Summer camp, beach vacations, cook-outs, pool parties, lemonade, fireflies, hot temps and endless sand, these are the things that make summer memorable. Halloween may be right around the corner, but summer is still in full swing. So, if you’re stuck inside during the heatwave, here are 10 great summer horror flicks to watch.
It Follows (2014)
There’s no mention of summer in this movie. It just feels like summer. Boredom often leads to casual sex, which leads to fear and paranoia, and eventually, leads to the suffering of life-long consequences. One of the creepiest things about this movie is watching the mundane life of Michigan teens. Writer/director David Robert Mitchell never really explains the origins of it is but whatever it is, it’s hella scary.
Summer Camp (2015)
Taking jobs in exotic locations is all the rage during summer. Four Americans sign up to be camp counselors in Spain for the summer but a rage-inducing virus turn the young compadres into blood-thirsty fiends. From the teams that made the mega-hit The Conjuring, and Rec, the wildly successful Spanish zombie films, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill zombie film. No spoilers, but let’s just say, these aren’t your typical “undead” folk.
I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
Who doesn’t love a good summer by the water? When teens return to the scene of the crime from the previous summer, they are haunted (or hunted) by a mysterious stranger. This by-the-book slasher film starred all the biggest 90s super teen queens and heartthrobs of the time. Besides that, nothing special here unless you like watching snobby teenagers get their comeuppance.
Just when you thought it was safe to go tubing down the river… genetically altered piranhas attack summer resort residents. After the success of Jaws, 1970s Hollywood cranked out a slew of numerous man v. nature horror films. This Roger Corman production was a direct rip-off but not quite as spectacular as Jaws. It did, however, help cement the hungry little fishies’ legacy as devilish man-eaters. The movie spawned a sequel and two remakes including the 2010 all-star gorefest, Piranha 3D, which is porn stars, piranhas and Elizabeth Shue, no seriously.
The Lost Boys (1987)
Sleep all day, party all night, never grow old and never die, sounds like a great summer motto, right? Two teens move to Santa Clara, the murder capitol of the world and find vampires. This movie made two Coreys famous and solidified Kiefer Sutherland’s villainous David as one of pop culture’s greatest vamps. Director Joel Schumacher hired acting heavyweights Dianne Wiest, Ed Herrmann and Bernard Hughes to offset the movie’s camp. Horror movies really shouldn’t be this fun. Now what was that main character’s name again?
Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Going away for the summer takes on a whole new meaning. After witnessing a tragic accident, Angela goes to live with her crazy aunt, who eventually sends her off to a summer camp being stalked by a serial killer. After Friday the 13th hit it big in 1980, a slew of low-budget slasher camp-themed movies followed. This is probably the best of the bunch. This cult classic’s cringe-worthy kills still pack a punch and a shocking twist ending, on par with Hitchcock’s Psycho.
Summers are hot and dry like a desert. A small town is terrorized by bloodthirsty sand creatures. Tremors is fantastic homage to the old Sci-fi monster movies of the 50s and 60s. The charismatic pairing of Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward lead an all-star cast in a perfect blend of action and comedy. None of 5 sequels that spawned afterwards quite live up to the originality of the first one, but they’re all still good b-movie camp.
Friday the 13th (1980)
Camp counselors, the unsung heroes of summer, and horror films. Cursed Camp Crystal Lake enlists the help of several young adults to prepare for the opening of summer camp but brutal killer arrives first. Jason Vorhees, the iconic killer drives the first film’s plot but his actual appearance doesn’t happen until the very end. No matter, he gets plenty of screen time in the other eleven movies following. It’s the second highest grossing horror franchise at $773.4 million, following behind The Exorcist. Rumor is the film series will end at lucky 13. Fans shouldn’t hold their breath while waiting for legalities over film rights to get sorted first.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Sometimes, summer is an unbearable scorching hell. In August 1973, after picking up a bizarre hitchhiker, a van full of young people stumble upon a house of terror. Considered a horror masterpiece, it was shot in Texas, during summer, in 115-degree heat, so the sweat dripping off the actor’s faces is real. The killer and several of the film’s details were based loosely on real life cannibal Ed Gein, but that’s as true as it gets. Writer and director Tobe Hooper did manage to coax some the authentic acting and screaming from its unknown cast. It’s the only movie on this list to be banned in several countries around the world (reasons vary, everything from the graphic violence to use of power tools in the title). Leatherface went on to become a horror icon and the mere sound of a chainsaw revving up, still sends chills up the spine.
“You’ll never go in the water again.” Summer of fear. A giant great white shark terrorizes the beach community of Amity Island over 4th of July holiday. Based on Peter Benchley’s novel, Hollywood’s first known summer blockbuster, Jaws is more a study in fear than it is about a man-eating shark. It’s about personal fear, communal fears, societal fears, mass hysteria, imagined fear, projected fear, and of course, fear of sharks. It’s nearly the perfect thriller that continually builds suspense throughout the whole movie. Amity Island’s colorful characters jump to life, thanks to excellent casting choices and the brilliant script has snappy dialogue, including one of the greatest monologues ever written for film, performed by the mesmerizing Robert Shaw. It’s all backed by John Williams’ unforgettable score, which is now burned into the mind of every filmgoer who puts a toe in the water. Many people claim their fear of sharks and swimming in the ocean was born after their viewing of Jaws. No other film in history of cinema has had the impact on our society in the way that Jaws has. It is the ultimate summer horror film.
The Burning – Another summer slasher camp movie with Cropsey (yes, that Cropsey)
Blood Beach – Beach blanket bingo with monsters
The Hills Have Eyes – Don’t break down in the desert
Turistas – Don’t break down in a foreign country
Club Dread – Don’t let serial killers stop your party