We’ve all heard them at one point in our lives. The hook on the car door. The killer in the backseat. Alligators in the sewers. We’ve all had our share of urban legends being passed down to us by our grandparents, parents, friends, and neighbors. They frighten us, but also raise a certain intrigue as to how they came to be. These tales of folklore have multiple variations in how they are told and who and what are involved in them so there is never a definitive version of a story. As a result, these tales are great fodder for movie adaptations especially in the horror genre since most of these stories have a rather gruesome origin. In actuality, various urban legends have already been adapted into films such as Alligator (alligators in the sewers), The Pine Barrens (A film about the Jersey Devil that is currently in development by Darren Lynn Bousman), and of course the Urban Legend films. However, there are numerous other urban legends from around the country that just beckon to be exploited by the horror genre. Here are ten urban legends that have the potential to make for some pretty interesting and potentially scary movies if done well:
10. The Slender Man It is a well-known fact that this urban legend is more myth than truth. It actually originated on the Something Awful forums as a made up creation. However, the story behind this ominous figure has plenty of potential for some creepy imagery and suspense. The Slender Man is essentially a tall man with long limbs who wears a business suit and has no face. There are numerous videos about this urban legend on Youtube (including a creepy series titled Marble Hornets), but an actual movie would be extremely creepy if done right. The Slender Man mostly preys on young kids and mostly appears in isolated areas like woods, fields, or alley ways. Whoever sees him apparently goes crazy and paranoid. It can work as a psychological thriller or suspenseful slasher and the focus on kids can be a welcome departure from the usual horny teenagers.
9. Humans Can Lick Too… This is probably one of the creepiest urban legends out there. It consists of a woman alone in her home with her dog. The woman is nervous due to being alone, but she is comforted by having her dog at her side. She heads to sleep, but she keeps waking up due to a dripping noise in the bathroom. Thinking it’s just the faucet, she ignores it and every once in a while drops her hand by the side of the bed to let her dog lick her hand to reinforce her safety. She does this several times until the morning when she had enough and heads to the bathroom only to find her dog skinned and hanging in her shower with the dripping being the blood dripping from the corpse. One the wall, a message written in blood stating “Humans can lick too..”. That alone can be a great thriller ala When a Stranger Calls. Just the creep factor in the licking aspect alone can be very frightening.
8. Boy Scout Lane This is another urban legend that relies on mood to really get under your skin. A group of boy scouts head down a trail in the woods for a camping trip and they all die under various means depending on which story you hear. Some versions say they die because of a forest fire caused by a prank. Others have the bus driver kill the scouts and others have the bus crash and having everyone die. This can be another Blair Witch style film (in concept) where the woods become a character itself and rely on sound and darkness to build the tension.
7. Dover Demon This is more cryptid than urban legend, but cryptids are easily the oldest form of urban legend there is. This creature is in a way the Jersey Devil of Massachusetts. It’s a creature believed to travel dimensions so there’s the sci-fi horror element right there. Just keep it away from the SyFy Channel.
6. The Crying Baby Criminal This urban legend I find to be a fascinating one because it’s not something we see often especially with murderers. A killer plays a recording of a baby crying to lure in his victims. It can actually work as a horror comedy under the right hands. Some other versions of the story have recordings of crying dogs to lure people in. Just food for thought
5. Roanoke Colony The infamous Roanoke colony disappearance remains one of the most mysterious unsolved mysteries in history. How can an entire colony disappear off an island with no signs aside from a carving of “Croatoan” in a tree? While there could be many reasons as to why the colony vanished, there’s nothing that a little twisting of the story couldn’t do to help amp up the mystery.
4. Resurrection Mary This tale is actually pretty sad in comparison to the rest of the stories on this list. It tells the tale of a young woman named Mary who was killed in a car crash. Her parents buried her in a cemetery named Resurrection Cemetery. The legend goes that if you drive alongside the road to Resurrection Cemetery that Mary will appear in a white flowing dress and a ghostly glow and attempt to hitch a ride to the cemetery. When the driver reaches the cemetery, she gets out and disappears into the night. This has potential to not only be a creepy supernatural tale, but it can sort of be manipulated into a romance of sorts. Have a man who after an experience with Resurrection Mary decides to find out what happened and attempt to give her a peaceful rest.
3. The Smith Sisters This story is yet another urban legend where kids are put into peril which a rarity nowadays due to the ever present cliche of keeping the kid out of harm’s way. This urban legend tells the tale of a boy who receives a mysterious e-mail from two girls who claim to be his sisters despite being an only child. The e-mail claims that the sisters were murdered in the exact same house and room that our protagonist lives in right now. The boy finds out through several other e-mails that they are indeed his sisters and that their killer was never caught. He refuses to believe it and he is later discovered skinned alive similarly to the two sisters from the e-mail. This tale can not only feature more kid characters actually doing something other than scream and be annoying, but the subject matter and idea is creepy and plays to the youth’s over dependence of technology.
2. Bloody Mary This urban legend has mostly been relegated into straight to DVD territory with some lackluster titles that don’t fully take advantage of the story. I think we all know the story behind Bloody Mary and she has been adapted to film before, but once again it was all straight to DVD cheesefests. An actual serious look into the Bloody Mary legend can be very scary if they go for a serious tone rather than a cheesy slasher tone that most movies seem to go for.
1. The Bunny Man This is an urban legend that not many people know about unless you live in the state of Virginia or are a urban legend freak like myself. The story of The Bunny Man is so rich with gruesome imagery and creepy potential that it practically is begging to be made to a movie. The legend goes that mental patients were being transported to another facility in the 1920s. The bus they are riding in crashes and most of them escape. The police capture most of the escapees except for two inmates. A few days later, one of the inmates was found gutted in the woods surrounded by dead bunnies. In the coming months, bodies began turning up ranging from children to seniors being gutted and hanged from a bridge with a railroad running on top of the tunnel. The legend remains now that if you head to the Bunnyman Bridge at night that the ghost of a man in a bunny suit carrying an ax will murder you. That right there is fodder for some gruesome fun to me and maybe a potential slasher icon if they did it right. The story has numerous different versions that it can be adapted in many ways from supernatural ghost story to a deranged slasher tale. If any urban legend needs to be made into a movie, this is it.