The first urban legend I ever heard was the legend of the hook man.
I was probably five or six and by that time, I was already addicted to scary stories and movies. My dad would turn the living room lights down and tell the story. My brother and I hung on every single word. Sure, little things changed here or there, but for the most part the key elements of the story remained the same.
Have you heard of the Hook Man?
Let me summarize it for you.
A young couple out on a date is parked at a lover’s lane, kissing in a car. They’ve been interupted once or twice by a bizarre scraping noise. The girl wants to leave but her lover begs her to stay, insisting that it’s nothing.
He turns the music up to block out any unwanted noises to put his date as ease.. They continue kissing until the music that is providing the soundtrack is interrupted by an urgent news bulletin. The radio station announced that a man with a hook for a hand has escaped from the local mental institution. The girl is scared, genuinely concerned because their kissing turnout is only a few miles from the escapee’s mental institution.
The boy insists that they’re fine and they continue kissing. Again, the girl hears a strange scraping sound. But this time it sounds closer. She panics and demands to leave. Her date reluctantly obliges her demand. He’s frustrated and guns the engine, speeding off while silently cursing the girl’s rabid imagination.
When they pull up to the girl’s house, the boy jumps out to get his date’s door. When he crosses to the passenger side he freezes. In the passenger door of his car is a bloody hook.
I know. I know. It gave me chills as a kid.
What is an urban legend?
The dictionary says this about urban legends: A modern story of obscure origin with little or no supporting evidence that spreads spontaneously in varying forms and often has elements of humor, moralizing, or horror.
Many urban legends, as stated, are cautionary tales. Take the Hook Man for example. It’s clearly there to warn teenagers against having sex or parking their cars past curfew at night. But just as the definition states, it’s spooky and creepy. And I’d be lying if I said that I’d never thought of that story growing up when I was out past my own curfew.
What’s your favorite urban legend?
In my experience, most people have heard of urban legends, whether or not they realize it. Here are a few of my favorites that you may recognize.
- Bloody Mary
- The Killer in the Backseat
- Killer in the House or Babysitter and the Man Upstairs
- Spiders (or infestation) in your flesh
- Poisoned candy
- Phantom vehicles
- Body under the bed
- Pretty much anything with clowns (shudder)
- Pop rocks and soda causing death
- Gangs driving with headlights off, only to attack you if you flash your lights to warn them
- Murder taking place in the same room as you, with the lights off (usually referred to as “Aren’t You Glad You Didn’t Turn on the Light?”
- Killer under the bed / under the car
- Waking up in a pool of ice after having your organs harvested
Most of these famous urban legends can be found in every state, the legend probably told as taking place in your very town. And yet, many states and towns also have their own lesser-known urban legends based on local areas, crimes, or history.
Movies Inspired by Urban Legends
Some of my favorite movies involve urban legends. Here’s a list of creepy movies to check out.
- When a Stranger Calls
- Urban Legend, Urban Legends: Final Cut, Urban Legends: Bloody Mary
- Scream, Scream 2, Scream 3, Scream 4
- I Know What You Did Last Summer, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
- Campfire Tales
- Documentaries: Killer Legends, Cropsey
What’s Your Favorite Urban Legend?
Let me know your favorite urban legend or movie inspired by urban legends? Let me know in the commets below.
Want more urban legends? Here is a writing prompt inspired by the Hook Man!