Most bizarre and creepy urban legends from different cultures are often scary stories, mysterious stories that frighten us and delight us. They vary from culture to culture and transform into something different with each retelling.
Some urban legends are true and some just happen to be fun to tell around the campfire late at night. These spooky tales are guaranteed to scare you and your friends.
1. Arizona’s Skinwalker
The Navajos of Arizona have a frightening legend about a creature who can shift into different animal forms. They’re called skinwalkers, or yee naaldlooshii in the Navajo language.
This creature is feared because it can take any form and walk on all fours. They’re also incredibly sneaky, according to the legend. They can steal the faces of people and absorb their energy. They also have the ability to freeze your body and fill you with fear if you lock eyes with them.
Skinwalkers are a twisted version of witches in Navajo culture. They’re malevolent and can even kill their own close-blood relatives. They’re also believed to be able to shapeshift into any type of animal, including wolves, coyotes, and bears.
They have long shaggy hair and reddish-brown skin with a massive arm that matches the size of a large cantaloupe. Their paws are thick and sharp, making them excellent hunters.
A family in Arizona had a chilling encounter with this mysterious creature that borders their ranch. They encountered a wolf-like creature that grabbed onto their cattle and tried to get away.
After shooting the creature with a.357 magnums, the owners decided to sell the property. But before they did, they experienced a wide variety of unexplained and paranormal activity on the ranch.
These strange phenomena include UFO sightings, cryptids, disembodied voices, crop circles, poltergeist activity, and cattle mutilations. There are also reports of high levels of radiation on the property.
2. Pennsylvania’s Seven Gates of Hell
In York County, Pennsylvania, a small township known as Hellam Township is home to one of the most bizarre and creepy urban legends of all time: The Seven Gates of Hell. According to this story, there are seven gates that, when crossed in the right order, open a doorway to hell.
The origins of this story are a bit of a mystery, but there are two main versions that are popular: The first, which is the most well-known version, tells of a mental asylum in the 1800s that was erected on Toad Road in Hellam Township. It was a highly remote location, and due to its isolated nature, the facility had a tragic accident one evening in which it burned to the ground.
Another version of this story says that an eccentric physician who inhabited the property installed seven gates along a walking path that lead from the facility to a forest. The first of these gates was visible during the day and the other six were only visible at night.
Regardless of the real-world origins of these gates, they are certainly a sight to behold and a major draw for local thrill seekers. But before you head out to search for them, remember that they’re on private property and trespassing is not permitted.
3. Ohio’s Frog
Every person has at least one ghastly urban legend that they tell to their friends on a dark night. These tales are often terrifying, but sometimes they can be true.
Some of the most bizarre and creepy urban legends come from different cultures, including Japan. The most popular of these is a monster with a goat’s head and wings that look like a bat. The creature also has horns, cloven hooves, claws, and small arms.
Another scary legend from Japan is Tomino’s Hell. This ghastly story claims that if you read Tomino’s poem aloud, it will bring terrible accidents and death to you.
While we’re on the topic of monsters, Ohio is home to a few scary cryptids that might be more familiar than you think. This includes a monster from Lake Erie and an elusive sasquatch-like creature called Orange Eyes.
In Loveland, a strange bipedal frog has been spotted hanging out on roads at night. It’s said to stand up on its hind legs, wave a wand over its head, and shoot sparks to deter humans.
This creature is believed to be a member of the gray tree frog family. It has green leathery skin, webbing feet, and a stick-like toe cap that lets it cling to walls and trees. The creature was first spotted in 1955. It’s said that three or four of them were seen in the Loveland area near the Little Miami River.
4. Beaver Dunes Park
Most people know at least one of these spooky stories that send chills down their spine. We all love to hear them around a campfire or tell them to our friends on a dark night, but not everyone knows that some of these tales are actually true!
Whether they’re based on a tragedy or a neighbor who lives out of the ordinary, these stories often get told to frighten children and adults alike. Some are even made into movies.
The spooky urban legend of the Broaddus family in Westfield, New Jersey is one example. Shortly after they moved into their new home, they began receiving creepy letters from someone called The Watcher.
These letters were full of chilling messages that started getting more and more specific about the family’s nicknames and hobbies. The eeriness grew until the family couldn’t stop reading them.
Another spooky urban legend that hasn’t been seen in years is that of the Crosswick Monster, a serpent-like creature that used to stalk the area. It is now thought to be a spirit of the town’s founders who died when they were young and were never seen again.
This ghost town is also home to a haunted cemetery. Several spooky sightings have been reported at the cemetery, including a white lady and an ephemeral white farmhouse. It is also said that if you visit the cemetery during the dead of night, you’ll see the ghost of Bigg Lizz. She’s a massive woman who was a slave and a spy for the Union troops. She was killed in Greenbrier Swamp and is now a haunted spirit who seeks revenge on her evil master.
5. Texas’s Candy Woman
Urban legends are a storied staple of our culture. They’re spooky, enticing stories that send chills up our spines. These stories are often based on true events but sometimes have their origins in fiction.
This is especially true in the case of the most bizarre urban legends from different cultures. Some of these tales are so eerie that even the most casual horror fan might find them terrifying.
In Texas, for example, there’s the Candy Woman, who lures children to their deaths with candy. To this day, locals in rural towns still report missing children who have been found stuffed with candy on their windowsills.
The Candy Lady has been portrayed in several films and mini-series, including one that recently premiered on Hulu. Jessica Biel delivers a powerful performance as the titular character.
But there’s something about this story that makes it a little too familiar. And that’s because it’s based on a real crime that took place in Wylie, a small town in Texas.
It was in Wylie that a young wife named Betty Gore (Melanie Lynskey) was brutally killed in her home by her own wife, Candy Montgomery (Jessica Biel). The two women had been married to each other for several years, and they were both very much into their sexual lives.
Regardless of whether or not the Candy Lady actually did kill Betty, it’s a tragic story that will stay with you for a long time. It also taps into a lot of relevant themes, such as mental illness and infidelity.
6. Germany’s Ghosts of University Professors
The position of a professor is a key component of the German higher education system. While scholarly reputation may be transnational, the making of the professorship is decidedly national, with specific academic career structures, procedures, and regulations.
As a result, a German professor is distinctly different from a US professor and has unique characteristics that make it difficult to compare. The most important differences are reflected in the appointment process and its legitimacy.
Traditionally, committees appoint professors by assessing their qualifications for the job. This largely relies on academic expertise and research achievements. It has also been found that a number of additional criteria have increased the legitimacy of these decisions, including unanimity among committee members and third-party endorsements from external peers (Musselin, 2010).
While a professorship in Germany is an attractive career option for students and scientists alike, it remains an expensive and complicated path to obtaining a position. A young scientist must first write a dissertation called a Habilitation and then apply to become a professor at the same university where it was completed.
In recent years, the German government has been trying to reform the country’s research system and improve the chances for younger scientists to obtain a professorship at an early age. These initiatives include the creation of junior professorships, which provide a more independence-friendly environment for young researchers. They also provide funding for selected universities to hire a greater number of junior faculty positions.
7. Loch Ness Monster of Scotland
The Loch Ness Monster is a large marine creature that is rumored to live in the waters of Loch Ness, Scotland. Its appearance varies, but it is usually described as a seal-shaped animal with a long serpentine neck and flippers.
It is a popular Scottish legend that has been spotted by many people since historical times, but its existence remains a mystery. Some have tried to prove its existence with sonar readings and scuba divers, but these methods have failed.
According to historians, the first recorded sighting of the monster was in 565 ad, when Irish monk St. Columba spotted the beast and ordered one of his monks to swim across the Loch.
In this incident, the monster rushed at the swimmer in a most terrifying way and roared in anger. Columba cried out to it, “Go back!” and the creature fled.
The modern myth of the Loch Ness Monster started in 1933 when a road adjacent to the lake was built, offering an unobstructed view of the water. In April, a couple saw an enormous animal they compared to a “dragon or prehistoric monster” cross in front of their car and disappear into the water. This became the first reported sighting of the monster, and numerous sightings followed.
8. Beijing’s Ghost Bus
The ghost bus is a popular legend among Chinese people. It’s the story of a mysterious bus that vanished and became a local legend in Beijing.
According to the story, a young man and an old woman were waiting for a midnight bus on November 14, 1995, in Beijing. When the bus finally arrived, they boarded the vehicle.
As the bus traveled, an eerie silence was felt inside. Then, after a few stops, the bus began to empty of passengers. The two old women and the young man remained on the bus along with three strange men who were dressed in odd clothes.
Once the bus reached its final destination, Xiang-shan (Fragrant Hills), all the passengers were gone. The young woman and the old man went to the police station to report the strange incident, but no one believed them.
A few days later, the police discovered the missing bus in a reservoir near Beijing. They found three badly decomposed bodies inside the bus: a driver, a female conductor, and an unidentified man. The only thing they could determine was that the bodies were decomposed very quickly. It was believed that the bus had not been able to carry enough petrol to get to the reservoir.
The chupacabra is an urban legend that’s spreading quickly in the Americas. It’s believed to be a blood-sucking monster that drains the blood of domestic animals.
This cryptid is said to live in Puerto Rico, Mexico and parts of Latin America (mainly Mexico). In many cases, it’s seen wreaking havoc on livestock like goats.
It’s a four-foot-tall beast with spines down its back, big red eyes and fangs. Some eyewitnesses say it hops like a kangaroo.
Often, the creature is seen in a gruesome manner, killing livestock with puncture wounds on their necks and drinking their blood. It’s a myth that spreads quickly across countries and communities, but the true origin of the chupacabra has not yet been determined.
Some scientists believe that most of the alleged chupacabra sightings are actually coyotes with mange, a skin disease caused by mites that burrow under the animal’s skin. This itch causes the animal to lose its hair and creates itchy scabs on its face.
10. Sydney Harbour Bridge
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is a landmark that has been part of the fabric of Australian society for generations. It has become a symbol of the country’s identity and the backdrop for its famous New Year’s Eve fireworks display.
The construction of the bridge began in 1923 and it took almost a decade to complete. It opened to the public on 19 March 1932, and a massive celebration took place that night.
A large number of people flocked to the bridge for its opening, including New South Wales Labor Premier Jack Lang. However, before the ribbon was cut, Francis de Groot of the New Guard right-wing paramilitary group rode up on his horse and slashed it in half with a sword.
The construction of the bridge was made possible by using a series of giant “creeper cranes” that would move forward on the arches as they were being built. Workers joined the top and bottom halves of each arch together in 1930.
11. Umm Al Duwais
One of the most bizarre urban legends from different cultures is that of a jinn who takes the form of a beautiful woman to lure men into her web. This story is told in many different countries and is often used as a way to warn people of evil or danger.
In the UAE, however, the tale of Umm Al Duwais is particularly infamous. It is believed to have originated from the Northern Emirates region and has now become so popular that it has inspired a horror film.
According to the local version of this legend, she appears as a gorgeous woman to seduce men into her web, but when she is reeled in completely she then changes into a terrifying monster who eats the lecherous men she has enchanted.
A new generation of young filmmakers, artists and writers – most of them female – have taken a closer look at the tale of Umm Al Duwais, and are questioning her motives. They argue that her killings may have been caused by her jealousy or a desire to protect women.
12. Indian village of Kuldhara
Kuldhara is one of the most haunted villages in India and its history has been etched in myths and rumors. It was once a flourishing village in the Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan.
The ancient Paliwal Brahmins were the original inhabitants of this village which was established around the 13th century. They were a well-known group of people who adapted smart farming and rainwater harvesting techniques to grow crops in the desert environment.
Today, the ruins of this deserted village are maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). A major portion of an old, little temple is located in a cluster of houses and has recently undergone renovations.
Tourists can walk around the reconstructed houses and get a glimpse of how beautiful the layout was in the past. They can also walk through the temple and check out the tiny recesses that are used to house miniature lamps.
As the sun sets in the sand dunes, the gates of Kuldhara close down as locals believe that spirits still roam in the streets after sunset. It is a popular ghost tourism destination and the government of Rajasthan has decided to develop it into a tourist spot.
The ape-like creature known as Bigfoot is believed to roam the woods of North America, but like other cryptids, there’s little physical evidence that confirms its existence. Instead, Bigfoot sightings and claims of hearing shrieks, howls, growls or other sounds are often based on eyewitnesses’ memories.
But even eyewitnesses’ memories aren’t always reliable, so they’re not a good source of evidence in many cases, Live Science previously reported. For example, people may misinterpret their memories or forget important details.
Another problem is that noise recordings that seem to indicate a Bigfoot are sometimes attributed to other animals, such as foxes or coyotes. In addition, ape-like creatures often emit strange odors that humans find unpleasant.
In some regions, these creatures are said to roam dangerously close to human civilization. In fact, they have been spotted collecting food from gardens planted by people in rural areas.
In the Himalayas, the Yeti has long been fabled creature. Often referred to as the “abominable snowman,” it is said to be a small, hairy animal with disproportionately large feet.
According to folklore, it walks upright, pulls at bushes, and is covered in reddish brown or black fur. It is said to be able to become invisible at will, and its blood has magic properties.
The Yeti are said to live in the mountains and roam around in search of human prey. It can also resurrect dead animals left in the woods overnight.
It is a popular deity in Tibetan and Bhutanese Buddhist monasteries, where it is believed to protect those who worship it. It has also been depicted in artwork that focuses on rebirth and reincarnation.
The Yeti has been a part of Himalayan folklore since ancient times. It was a part of the pre-Buddhist beliefs of several Himalayan people, including the Lepcha and Bon people.
15. The Watcher of Westfield
You may have seen the Netflix miniseries “The Watcher” (based on a real story), which has captured the attention of millions of people across the world. It’s a terrifying tale that takes a few liberties with the true story but has a lot of viewers intrigued.
The story began when a New Jersey couple purchased a mansion for a whopping $1.3 million in Westfield, a small town 45 minutes from New York City. The town has been compared to Mayberry in the TV show The Andy Griffith Show because it’s a popular destination for families looking to live close to the city.
However, the family soon started getting eerie, frightening letters signed by “The Watcher,” who claimed he’d been watching over their home for more than 100 years. He threatened them with kidnapping and wrote ominous notes like, “Do you need to fill the house with the young boy whose blood I requested?”
These letters made Derek Broaddus, the owner of 657 Boulevard, terrified of the possibility that he could wake up in the middle of the night and find his house full of hooded people and other strange creatures. He and his wife Maria eventually moved out of the house, but their nightmare never ended.
The newest owners of 657 Boulevard, Andrew and Allison Carr, have also faced a slew of visits from police since they moved in earlier this year. According to the New York Post, they’ve had 58 police visits so far in their new home.
17. The Hook Killer of Staten Island
In the 1970s, the Staten Island community was terrorized by a serial killer. This escaped mental patient with a hook for a hand would take naughty kids from their homes and drag them to the mangled ruins of an abandoned hospital.
The story became so widespread that children began to believe it was true. They called him “Cropsey.” It was a story that haunted and traumatized a community for years.
It was a tale that terrified parents too and kept their children close to home, in bed at night, or under the watchful eye of a parent. It was a gruesome legend that had roots in the truth and one that continues to keep people up at night, especially on Staten Island.
A new documentary from Staten Island filmmakers Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio explores this twisted urban legend. They grew up with the Cropsey tales and wanted to find out more about them.
They teamed up with the families of the missing children and consulted with former Staten Island police detectives, who helped them research the cases. Their film, Cropsey, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival this month.
It’s a harrowing look at the real case of Andre Rand, who wreaked havoc on Staten Island for decades. He was convicted of two kidnappings and will not be eligible for parole until 2037. He’s also believed to be responsible for the disappearances of Holly Ann Hughes, Alice Pereira and Tiahese Jackson.
18. The Red Bison of Bladenboro
One of the most bizarre and creepy recent urban legends and legends comes from a town in southeastern North Carolina. The tale is centered around a panther-like creature that kills viciously and indiscriminately.
The beast supposedly made its first appearance on December 29, 1953, when a local woman heard her neighbors’ dogs barking and whimpering. When she went outside to investigate, she saw a large cat-like creature skulking in the dark.
What she saw was the first of several terrifying encounters with the beast. In all, eight dogs were reported killed, including a family of kittens. Various types of animals were also found mutilated and drained of blood.
In a mad rush to solve the mystery, hundreds of hunters poured into the town of Bladenboro. A fully armed pack of fraternity brothers from UNC-Chapel Hill swarmed in to help, while tracking dogs from Wilmington to the east were dispatched to hunt the creature.
It was a terrifying flurry of activity, and by the time the hunters departed in mid-January, reports of animal attacks had diminished significantly. But a week later, a new tale about the beast came to light: A human being was actually attacked by something similar to the monster in the woods that drained the local dogs of their blood.
The creature was dubbed the “Bladenboro Vampire Cat,” and it remains one of the most enduring myths surrounding the state’s sleepy textile town. Nevertheless, the beast is still around today, albeit in a lesser form than it was during its most infamous moments.
19. The Evil Woman of Texas
From the creepy to the ghastly, these are some of the most creepy urban legends from different cultures.
This myth about a werewolf-like creature who walks on all fours and haunts his childhood home is based on a real man, Gerald Bettis, who was rumored to experiment on stray animals.
The Kushtaka is a Native American legend that describes a cross between an otter and a man. These creatures are said to make sounds that mimic a dead children’s playground and wives to lure fishermen, though they’re also helpful tricksters.
These slithery, shape-shifting creatures are said to eat human flesh. If you taste their meat, you’ll turn into one of them.
They’ve killed many people and even made the town of Saugatuck, Michigan, into a tourist destination. They can be seen walking through the woods at night.
This is a common ghost story in the U.S., but it’s particularly eerie in Westfield, New York. It’s not uncommon for people to hear a scream or see shadows chasing them down the street.
There’s also a haunted house in the town. It’s known for its paranormal activity, including a woman in a red dress and a frog that will stand up on its hind legs to scare you away.
Another local urban legend is about a witch who slew her husband by poisoning candy left out on his windowsills. She’s a ruthless self-centered schemer who will stop at nothing to deceive, con and steal.