Some of the scariest movies ever made started with seeds planted in the real world.
Freddie Krueger was inspired by a sweater-based tramp who tormented Wes Craven as boy, watching on from his bedroom window while Eli Roth would have us believe that Hostel was inspired by a very real website.
Lights Out is something a little different though: a horror movie with its roots found in the realm of urban legends, and an entity that has haunted people for decades.
Most urban legends are cautionary tales, designed to ward youngsters off any number of nefarious activities. But there are some, just some, that take inspiration from very real events.
To mark the release of Lights Out on Blu-ray and DVD, loaded is looking back at 10 urban legends guaranteed to frighten the hell out of you. Here goes…
A Stranger Calls
A simple enough tale: a babysitter starts getting phone calls from an unknown man asking increasingly personal questions. After hanging up on him, she phones the police and asks them to trace the call. A few minutes pass before they call back to tell her to get out the house – the man has been phoning from inside the house.
You know the old story: if you turn out the lights in your bathroom, look into the mirror and say the words Bloody Mary three times then the spirit of Mary Worth, a woman who was executed for being a witch appears. Do you want to try it for real?
Another tale of babysitting woe, this story concerns one young child minder who decides to call the parents of the child she is looking after to ask if she can cover up the creepy clown statue standing in the corner of the room. There’s just one problem – they don’t own a clown statue. In fact, their children have been complaining about a clown watching them in their sleep…
A woman is driving on a dark road late at night when a strange car begins to follow her, up close, while flashing its lights. Try as she might, the driver can’t shake off her pursuer. Eventually arriving at her destination, she realises that the driver following her has now got out of his car and is shouting something in her direction. Only then does she realise the truth: they spotted a man holding an axe in her backseat.
A couple spending the night in a fancy hotel room are finding the entire experience ruined by a rather foul and particularly pungent odor. After calling reception, hotel staff uncover the grizzly truth – there’s a dead body lying under the mattress.
A lesson against vanity, the story concerns one girl’s quest to have the perfect hairdo. Hearing that the best thing to do is wash her hair in sugar water she does exactly that, wrapping it in a towel before going to bed. The next day, when she fails to appear for breakfast, her mother goes to her room and makes a horrific discover – her daughter has been gnawed to death by rats.
A motorist picks up a female hitchhiker on a quiet country road. After driving her home, he’s shocked to discover that she’s disappeared from the backseat. Knocking on the door of the address she told him to drop her off at, he discovers the truth: she died at the very spot he picked her up several years ago.
A boy and girl are getting hot and heavy in a car parked in some secluded area away from sight when they hear on the radio that a serial killer with a hook for an arm has just escaped the nearby mental hospital. Suitably spooked, the woman asks to be driven home. Only when she gets back to they discover something grizzly – a bloody hook hanging from the outside handle of the car door.
This is the story of two University roommates who are friends but lead markedly different lives. The night before a big test, one of the two heads out to a party. Returning late to their room she decides not to turn the light on and get straight into bed. The next morning, however, she awakes to the bloody corpse of her friend alongside the following words, written in blood, on her dorm room wall:
“Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the lights?”
The Slender Man
The Slender man is that rarest of things: an urban legend born on the internet. An unnaturally tall supernatural being defined by his long, claw-like limbs, and faceless appearance, by the time the Slender Man is seen, it’s already too late, with this menacing spectre spotted in the background of many a photo featuring a now missing child.
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.