Are These Halloween Urban Legends True? An Examination Of 6 Classics

jack-o-lantern

Happy Halloween, Gentle Readers!

You’ve probably already got your plans all set for tonight — even if it’s just staying in and watching a whole bunch of movies, listening to a ton of podcasts, playing a couple of games, or reading a good book — but let’s do a little something to mark the occasion while we’re here: Tell a few classic Halloween urban legends. Or perhaps more accurately, debunk a few classic Halloween urban legends, because honestly, urban legends aren’t interesting unless you’re digging into where they came from and whether or not they’ve got a kernel of truth buried in there somewhere.

In case you still need a few ideas for how to occupy your time tonight, here’s a list of things to do on Halloween — but why not kick it off by taking a look at a few of the tales below? I’m sure you’ve heard them before. So, which of them are actually true? You might be surprised.

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Creepypasta of the Week: “Trick Or Treat”

doorbell

Previously: “The Cardboard House.”

The selection of Halloween-themed creepypasta available is surprisingly slim. Perhaps it’s to be expected; layering a creepy story on top of a holiday that’s already supposed to be creepy seems a little like overkill, and might even cancel out the creepiness all together. But “Trick or Treat” is quite a successful little story, weaving together well-known traditions, the history of Halloween, and one the most puzzling unsolved mysteries on record. (If you’re keeping up with this season of American Horror Story, you’ll probably know what I’m talking about.)

Like a lot of creepy stories, this one is sort of a cautionary tale. It also brings up a very good point about trick or treating — namely, that it’s actually a little weird we’re so trusting of strangers opening up their doors to a whole bunch of equally strange children on one specific day every year.

Kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

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The Best Spooky Books To Read, October 2016 — And Why They’re Worth Your Time: Part 2, Serial Killers, Unreliable Narrators & More

books-2Previously: Spooky Books: Ghosts & Haunted Houses.

Time for the second installment of the Best Spooky Books To Read, October 2016 edition. Whereas last week we focused on ghost stories, this week, we’re broadening it out a little bit: Murders and Serial Killers, Unreliable Narrators, and Short Stories. As was the case with last week’s selections, the books found here aren’t necessarily “horror” in the classic sense of the word; they span many genres, often even defying genre entirely. But what they all have in common is that they’re “October books” for me — the kinds of books that are good no matter when you read them, but which always pack a particular punch at this time of year. (See the introduction to last week’s post for more about what I mean.)

Ready? Let’s go.

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The Best Spooky Books To Read, October 2016 — And Why They’re Worth Your Time: Part 1, Ghosts & Haunted Houses

booksThere’s a particular kind of spooky book I like to read when autumn rolls around. They’re not necessarily scary per se — but they all have the same sort of air about them: They’re the kinds of stories that beg to be told when the weather starts to get cooler and the nights grow longer and October is in the chair There’s an impulse to write horror fiction off as “just meant to scare you” and nothing more — but as I’ve mentioned before, good horror is about something much more than just what’s going on on the surface. It’s usually talking about something else — something we really should be talking about.

That’s what these books have. For me, at least.

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The Most Dangerous Games: A Small Radio

Previously: Channel Infinity.

Normally I wouldn’t post a second game quite so soon after posting the last one, but guess what? It’s October. And October means it’s Halloween season. And since it’s Halloween season, now seems like a good time to look at “A Small Radio.” I mentioned it briefly last year, but due to a lot of Big Life Changes, I wasn’t able to cover it in time for Halloween 2015. I put it on my to do list for the following year, though, and, well… here we are. 

Originally posted to the Creepypasta Wikia by user MacaroniArtZombeh in August of 2013, this game can only be played on a very particular day; trying to do it at any other time will result in a failed attempt. So I figured I’d put it on your radar now, at the beginning of the month, so you have plenty of time to get ready for the Oct. 30 start date. You don’t need much to get it started — just yourself, an outdoor location, and a cell phone. If all goes as planned, the rest of the supplies will be provided to you if and when you need it.

Then again, though, I’m not totally sure you’ll want to play it. Like several of the other games we’ve looked at here, this one is a recipe for luck… but luck never comes without a price.

As always…

…Well, you know how it goes.

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What To Do On Halloween

pumpkinhead

Watch Something

Here are some suggestions. Have fun, kids.

*

Play Something

Video games are always good. I’ve been saving Until Dawn for the perfect moment, and Halloween might just be the perfect occasion to crack it open. If you’re a PC gamer, Rock Paper Shotgun has an excellent list of mostly mainstream PC picks; for indie stuff, check out this post on Bloody Disgusting. Want something free? The r/horrorgaming subreddit has you covered.

Or, play a different sort of game. You know the kind I mean. I haven’t covered this one yet, but it must necessarily be performed right as the clock ticks over from October 30 to October 31, so now might be a good time to give it a shot.

Or not, depending on how lucky you’re feeling.

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The Best Horror Movies on Netflix, October 2015 — And Why They’re Worth Your Time

film reelHappy October, everyone! I’m still in the process of dealing with all that Major Life Stuff, so I may have to take off for a few weeks again in November — but it’s Halloween season, so obviously I can’t let that go unremarked. As such, I’ll be back to rolling out content throughout the month, some of which will step away a little bit from the formats TGIMM typically employs.

To start, let’s take a look at some of the best horror movies currently available to stream on Netflix Watch Instantly, because there is no better way to spend a gloomy day in October than by queuing up a marathon of weirdness. This list is by no means exhaustive; it also focuses less on the classics (which I assume you’ve already seen — and if you haven’t, hey, Hellraiser, Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen, and more are currently available, so get on that, stat) or big budget films (most of which just don’t really do it for me) in favor of smaller budget, foreign, and/or indie films. Generally I find the lack of a huge budget forces artists to be a heck of a lot creative, and as a result, I think these sorts of horror films are much more interesting than ones with a whole bunch of money behind them. I also realize that “best” is kind of a relative term — I may love these films; you may hate them — but, well… just roll with it. We’ll go through a few different categories as we work our way down: Things I’ve seen, things I haven’t seen but hear great things about, and a couple of bonuses.

Got something in mind I haven’t listed here that we should all give a shot? Leave it in the comments.

Now! Let’s get this (dead man’s) party started, shall we?

Things I’ve Actually Seen:

I’ve watched all of the films in this category, and although they’re certainly not perfect, they all struck me for one reason or another. Whether or not they’re actually “scary” is probably a personal matter (if you’ve seen as many horror flicks as I have, you’re likely hard to frighten), but what they do all do is use the horror genre — and various subgenres within it — in unique ways that comment on something larger than themselves.

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