These horrifying urban legends you heard as a kid aren't actually true
Remember when your mom told you to be careful about any Halloween candy that’s missing its wrapper because it might be poisoned? Or when your college friends told you that ultra-creepy “true story” about a campus murder that was predicted by a psychic and you couldn’t fall asleep with the lights off for a week? There are SO MANY scary myths that have become household fables over time —but most of them are just untrue.
Thanks to Snopes, we’ve compiled the most widely-believed horror myths that are 100 percent made-up. Grab some Halloween candy and a hot chocolate —and just know that a lot of those scary stories your family members and friends told you are probably not true.
Myth: The Amityville Horror is based on a true story.
Millions around the world claim that The Amityville Horror, a film adaptation of Jay Anson’s 1977 book, is based on a true story — in fact, it’s arguably the basis of the story’s appeal. According to Snopes, even Melissa George (who played Kathy Lutz in the film) wanted to be involved because “if you’re going to do a scary movie, you might as well do The Amityville Horror, a true story, a famous book, a well-known moment in American history.”
Except here’s the thing: It’s totally not true! Yes, Ronald DeFeo, Jr. did kill his whole family, but it wasn’t because of demons; then, Defeo’s lawyer and the Lutzes came up with the haunting part of the story after drinking a lot of wine. And, well, they certainly did make a lot of money from it.
Myth: Children have been poisoned from Halloween candy while trick-or-treating.
Many may remember their parents getting nervous over their kids’ Halloween stash, thinking a cruel stranger may have poisoned the Tootsie Rolls. But it turns out that whole thing didn’t exactly happen the way everyone thinks.
There have been several cases of poisoning specific children with Halloween candy, like the infamous 1975 case of Ronald Clark O’Bryan, who poisoned his son with a cyanide-laced Pixie Stix to make it look like he was poisoned via his trick-or-treating candy. However, there have not been cases of “Halloween sadism,” where random people decide to poison candy and deliver it to kids they don’t know. All parents can breathe a sigh of relief.
Myth: There have been cases of a “bug bite” erupting with spider eggs.
You’ve probably heard of some variation of this one, mainly because it’s so disgusting that it tends to be kinda memorable. And maybe it’s made you even more terrified of spiders, or terrified of sleeping — for fear of a spider laying its eggs in your cheek. An understandable fear, TBH, but an unfounded one. Luckily, according to arachnid experts, spiders will not lay its eggs in or on a human. Think about it: If you’re a momma spider, you wouldn’t place the future of your offspring within something a bajillion times your size that can move, and thus, kill your precious babies.
Myth: Houdini died from being punched in the stomach.
A commonly known “fun fact” is that Houdini died due to a ruptured appendix, which happened when someone challenged his strength and then punched him hard in the stomach. Afterward, Houdini suffered severe stomach pain and eventually died from diffuse peritonitis, an infection typically occurring after abdominal rupture. However, research since has widely suggested that it’s rare for that to happen, and although the reason for Houdini’s appendicitis still is unknown, it’s highly unlikely that a punch could have possibly done it.
Myth: Criminals have waited underneath their victims’ cars until their victim approaches, then slashed their victims’ ankles.
There has been an ultra creepy story about this going around for years. People have claimed that the assailant slashes their victims’ ankles so that they will fall, then slashes their wrists and drives away with their car. Well, rest easy and know that there are no documented cases of this actually happening, according to Snopes.
Myth: Some people have been distributing Halloween candy that is laced with ecstasy, or is ecstasy in disguise.
Nope, not true. As Snopes points out, it is true that some ecstasy looks like candy, but it’s not purposely intended to be given to children, and many have conflated the childlike appearance of certain kinds of ecstasy with a purposeful intent that does not exist. So we can all know that those SweetTarts are actually just SweetTarts.
Myth: A “Russian sleep experiment” that was conducted in the 1940s made patients go mad.
Remember that ultra creepy story that was all over the Internet about that supposed experiment involving Soviet researchers that kept five people awake for fifteen consecutive days? OK, if you’ve never heard of it, you should read it (or listen to it, if you prefer). Many believe it’s real, but it’s actually just a super well-written CreepyPasta story. Even knowing that, it still raises the hair on the backs our necks.
Myth: Travelers have been drugged, only to awaken in an ice-filled bathtub with a missing kidney.
This rumor started back in 1997 with an email that made the rounds of the Internet, but we still haven’t shaken it almost twenty years later. The email is a warning to business travelers that a “new crime ring” drugs travelers, harvests their kidneys, and leaves them alone in an ice-filled bathtub with a note telling them not to move and to call 911. And if that’s not creepy enough, the email has several replies attached to it that are supposed “testimonies” from others who have seen it happen. Yeah, no cases of it — just an urban legend, according to Snopes. But at least it’s a super creepy story to tell at a Halloween party!
Myth: A psychic predicted that a murder would happen on Halloween on a college campus.
There have been various incarnations of a story about a psychic going on a popular television talk show to predict a Halloween murder on a college campus. Almost all details vary depending on where it’s told, but nope, this is untrue, though it’s been taken seriously in many schools, who advised their students (especially in 1998) not to leave their dorm rooms alone on Halloween.
(Image via Shutterstock, American International Pictures, Giphy)