The 5 Scariest Urban Legends

Posted on 05/21/2010
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The Urban Legend can have its lineage traced all the way back to the earliest form of storytelling, when terrifying tales were traded around fires, either as a warning or for mere entertainment. The Urban Legend is a contemporary legend, a modern form of folklore or mythology which reflects the era’s fears or trepidations. While originally, like the original talks of folklore, they were passed around by word of mouth, modern technology has seen the distribution of tales taken on by the new forms of communication and media. The latest of these being used are the chain-email and the use of various social networking sites, which have been able to add an extra fear dynamic in the added clause that if the note is not forwarded to a certain number of people, some form of paranormal revenge will befall the ill-fated reader.

Most Urban Legends change over time and have variations depending on where it is told. They usually have happened to a ‘friend of a friend’, giving it proximity and removing that feeling of being remote to the story, adding that extra fear factor. They are the scourge of the playgrounds and the invader of the wine fuelled dinner party. They are the tale of that misfortunate, distant acquaintance. They are the always terrifying Urban Legends.

The Urban Legend can have its lineage traced all the way back to the earliest form of storytelling, when terrifying tales were traded around fires, either as a warning or for mere entertainment. The Urban Legend is a contemporary legend, a modern form of folklore or mythology which reflects the era’s fears or trepidations. While originally, like the original talks of folklore, they were passed around by word of mouth, modern technology has seen the distribution of tales taken on by the new forms of communication and media. The latest of these being used are the chain-email and the use of various social networking sites, which have been able to add an extra fear dynamic in the added clause that if the note is not forwarded to a certain number of people, some form of paranormal revenge will befall the ill-fated reader.

Most Urban Legends change over time and have variations depending on where it is told. They usually have happened to a ‘friend of a friend’, giving it proximity and removing that feeling of being remote to the story, adding that extra fear factor. They are the scourge of the playgrounds and the invader of the wine fuelled dinner party. They are the tale of that misfortunate, distant acquaintance. They are the always terrifying Urban Legends.

Bloody Mary

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As told on the Internet, Feb. 16, 1994:

"When I was about 9 years old, I went to a friend's for a birthday/slumber party. There were about 10 other girls there. About midnight, we decided to play Mary Worth. Some of us had never heard of this so one of the girls told the story.

Mary Worth lived a long time ago. She was a very beautiful young girl. One day she had a terrible accident that left her face so disfigured that nobody would look at her. She had not been allowed to see her own reflection after this accident for fear that she would lose her mind. Before this, she had spent long hours admiring her beauty in her bedroom mirror.

One night, after everyone had gone to bed, unable to fight the curiosity any longer, she crept into a room that had a mirror. As soon as she saw her face, she broke down into terrible screams and sobs. It was at this moment that she was so heartbroken and wanted her old reflection back, which she walked into the mirror to find it, vowing to disfigure anybody that came looking for her in the mirror.

After hearing this story, which was told very scarily, we decided to turn out all of the lights and try it. We all huddled around the mirror and starting repeating "Mary Worth, Mary Worth, I believe in Mary Worth". About the seventh time we said it one of the girls that was in front of the mirror started screaming and trying to push her way back away from the mirror. She was screaming so loud that my friend’s mom came running into the room. She quickly turned on the lights and found this girl huddled in the corner screaming. She turned her around to see what the problem and saw these long fingernail scratches running down her right cheek. I will never forget her face as long as I live!!"

A tale that makes the audience fears their own reflection. It always comes down the old adage of ‘curiosity killed the cat’. There is something inherently scary about the idea of something coming out of a mirror or television screen, like it is some parallel world, or perhaps a world that is the opposite to ours, as used by such films as The Ring. The idea of an opposite, parallel universe gives us our closest representation of hell. Bloody Mary brings forth the idea that the evil spirits of the world are captured within the glass that capture our own images, and creates the fear that not only they can be called forth into our world, but that perhaps, after death, we will find ourselves trapped behind the glass.

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