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6 Unsettling Urban Legends and Horror Stories You Must Definitely Read!

Ancient Theory

Author: Ancient Theory

Published: February 19, 2023 / Updated: February 21, 2023

While most urban legends have their roots in fiction, some have arisen based on real events.

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6 Unsettling Urban Legends and Horror Stories You Must Definitely Read!

Hundreds, if not thousands urban legends and horror stories are being told worldwide, each more interesting and captivating than the last. 

Some are inspired by real events, and others are simply works of fiction. People love telling stories about frightening or mysterious places. 

While many of these urban legends and horror stories are only popular in the areas they are associated with, some have become known worldwide.

The Cursed Phone Numbers

The Cursed Phone Numbers

It is no secret that in most cultures around the world, there are superstitions surrounding numbers. It is, therefore, no mystery that these deeply rooted superstitions in many cultures have given rise to some of the most terrifying urban legends and horror stories.

In China, for example, the number 4 is associated with misfortune, bad luck, and even death.

Another relevant example is given by superstitious Italians when it comes to the number 17. In the past, before the popularization of Arabic numbers, most Europeans used Roman numerals.

Thus, 17 in the Roman language is “XVII.” Rearranging the letters, one can obtain the word VIXI, which, translated from Latin, means “my life is over.”

However, according to many urban legends and horror stories, some phone numbers are just as ominous and attract terrible curses upon their owners.

The first such phone number is 090-4444-4444.

The urban legend of the phone number 090-4444-4444 originates from Japan, where it is known as Sadako’s Number.

This myth is a bizarre one.

The number itself is too long to be reached directly (it contains two more digits than an ordinary Japanese phone number). However, according to a Japanese urban legend, multiple people have received calls from this number.

Apparently, everyone who was called from this number recalls the same thing. The first call lasted only a couple of seconds, and there was nothing but a static noise in the background.

Then, a second one followed precisely 24 hours after the first call. This time, people could hear noises and strange whispers.

In Japanese, the letter 4 translates to shi, and the same goes for the word death.

According to this Japanese horror story, those who answered the cursed phone calls and heard the whispers were found dead a week later.

The malevolent entity in the Japanese horror movie The Ring (Ringu) is named Sadako, and the curse spreads through a short film. Those who see the film are marked by Sadako and receive a phone call telling them they only have seven days to live.

In an interview, screenwriters and the director Hideo Nakata revealed they got some inspiration for their movie from the cursed phone number urban legend.

Another phone number said to be cursed is 0888-888-888. Around this number, too, have arisen some terrifying urban legends and horror stories.

One of these has its origins in Bulgaria, a small European country.

There it is said that the number 0888-888-888 was issued for the first time in 2000, and its first holder was struck down by a mysterious illness. After a few months, another recipient of the same phone number was robbed and killed in broad daylight.

Two strange cases could easily be interpreted as mere coincidences. However, they were followed by three other accidents in which the owners of the same cursed number lost their lives: a car accident, a death from a heart attack, and a suicide veiled in mystery.

The Bulgarian press picked up the story, immediately finding the connection between the five suspicious deaths – the mysterious phone number.

Obviously, no one wanted the number anymore, and in 2007 the phone service provider Mobitel decided to permanently suspend it.

Finally, we have the urban legend associated with the number 20-20-20-20.

According to this horror story distributed in the 1970s in Great Britain, a mysterious phone number allows you to communicate with the afterlife. The number could be called for free, and a female voice could be heard begging for help at the other end of the line.

Here is an actual testimony published in a paranormal magazine:

In 1975 I was just a kid, but I remember this stupid game. Some friends challenged me to call an odd number. They said you could talk to the dead. Of course, I didn’t believe them. I dialed something with 0s and 2s repeating, but I can’t really remember the number. I dialed from a public phone, and the machine didn’t ask for money, which I found really strange. I remember the monotonous voice from the other end of the line. It had something sinister like it was not from this world. It was a female voice repeating over and over: Help, help! Suzie is dying!

Coincidence or not, there are several dozen similar testimonies. Many of them have been published in several collections of paranormal phenomena.

Bloody Mary

Urban Legends and Horror Stories - Bloody Mary

Our list of urban legends and horror must include the urban legend of Bloody Mary.

The origin of this horror story is uncertain. 

Still, in contemporary folklore, Bloody Mary is often described as a malevolent spirit or witch who can be summoned by repeatedly speaking her name in front of a mirror. 

In some versions of the myth, it takes three invocations, while in others, it takes six, eight, or even twelve.

According to the most widespread version of the urban legend, the terrible curse began with Mary Worth, an elderly woman who supposedly lived in the early 17th century in Wadsworth, a town in the Medina region of Ohio, United States.

Suspected of witchcraft and occult practices, Mary Worth was marginalized and expelled from the village. Driven from her home, the woman hid in a shabby hut in a nearby forest.

So far, nothing out of the ordinary. 

But soon, the whole community was struck by an unspeakable tragedy after several local children disappeared without a trace.

Frightened and furious, the people grabbed pitchforks and axes and set off to the old woman’s house, bound to find justice. Because in their minds, no one but Mary Worth could be responsible for the disappearance of the children.

When they arrived in front of the hut where the woman had taken refuge, they were surprised to be greeted by a beautiful young woman. She told them that the old Mary had died shortly after being expelled.

The miller, an aggressive man known for his violent tendencies, did not believe the girl’s story and tried to force his way into the house. He hit and pushed the woman, and only the intervention of the other villagers prevented him from killing her.

While the people were struggling to calm the miller, the girl, covered in blood, got up from the ground, approached the man, and whispered something in his ear. No one heard what the young woman whispered, but her words terrified him.

Soon after the incident, the miller’s daughter, a 12-year-old girl, disappeared without a trace. The villagers gathered again, furious, in front of the dilapidated house in the forest. But this time, nobody greeted them at the door.

Instead, behind the house, the people made a terrifying discovery: no less than 20 freshly dug graves… one for each missing child. And in one of the rooms, they found a wooden tub filled halfway with blood.

The villagers never discovered what happened to the old Mary Worth and who the mysterious young woman was. 

However, several versions of the story propagated throughout history.

Some thought that Mary Worth had encountered a malevolent entity in the forest. Annoyed by the old woman’s presence, the spirit would have killed her in cold blood.

Others believed that Mary and the young woman were, in fact, the same person. Maybe Mary Worth knew some sort of an unholy way to regain her youth by bathing in the blood of innocent children.

Other versions of the same horror story have different main characters, such as Mary Worthington, Hell Mary, or Black Agnes. But the central idea is always the same: a malevolent spirit that kills with cold blood and whose curse persists to this day.

The invocation ritual of the Bloody Mary spirit also varies depending on the version of the story. 

Sometimes, you must invoke the name of Bloody Mary a hundred times at midnight, rubbing your eyes while turning around.

As with other versions, Bloody Mary can be summoned by saying her name 13 times while holding a lit candle. 

There are also versions of the legend that require the person invoking the malicious entity to say specific phrases or verses, such as “Bloody Mary, I killed your son!” or “I killed your baby,” which is supposed to anger the spirit and make it reveal to you.

Usually, the invocation ritual is a test of courage that few can carry out. It is also believed that once summoned, the spirit will kill the one who called it. 

The urban legend of Bloody Mary may also have its roots in an old pagan ritual of fortune-telling. 

According to this ritual, young women had to ascend a few stairs backward on Halloween night, holding a candle in one hand and a mirror in the other. 

It is said that girls who performed the ceremony by saying certain magical words saw the face of their future husband in the mirror. If instead, the mirror reflected the image of death, the girl would die before getting married.

The Eery Story of Edward Mordrake

The Eery Story of Edward Mordrake

An American newspaper, The Boston Post, published an article in 1895 titled The Wonders of Modern Science. The author was a well-known reporter named Charles Lotin Hildreth. 

The article, which was not typical of the newspaper’s style, discussed reports from the Royal Scientific Society about the existence of “monsters.” 

Among the curiosities documented by the Royal Scientific Society were the strange man-rabbit, a mermaid found dead on a beach in 1885, and Edward Mordrake, whose story was to become one of the most terrifying urban legends. 

According to the article picked up by The Boston Post, Edward Mordrake was a handsome and very wealthy young man from an English noble family. 

Blessed with intelligence and charm, Mordrake quickly rose in high society and became a figure at social events. But behind all the glitter of a life of luxury, Mordrake had a terrible secret. 

This horrific secret gave birth to one of the most terrifying urban legends. 

Apparently, beyond the nobleman’s beautiful face, Edward hid a grotesque, sinister figure… literally. The young noble was born with a terrible malformation: another face concealed on the back of his head. 

Although extremely limited in abilities – restricted to simple movements of the eyes and a few grunts, impossible to comprehend – the second face of Edward Mordrake had a kind of malicious cleverness. 

According to his family, Edward was constantly haunted by his “diabolical twin” as he characterized the malformation. 

Here is a short excerpt from the Lord’s diary:

The whispers that never cease seem to come from Hell. Day and night, he whispers to me, saying words that are too horrible to reproduce. I can’t take this anymore. 

Edward repeatedly tried to get rid of the diabolical twin, but no surgeon dared to perform such a risky procedure. 

The story has a tragic ending, as Lord Edward Mordrake committed suicide at the age of 23. 

He left only a note asking his loved ones to remove and destroy the evil face… by any means necessary:

Please do not allow it to spread its poison beyond the grave. You must remove the demon and burn it!

The bizarre story of Edward Mordrake caught on very well with the public. 

So well, in fact, that in 1896 the legend of the cursed noble was published in the reputable medical encyclopedia Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine, co-authored by Dr. George M. Gould and Dr. David L. Pyle. 

The two authors examined the young man’s case using the information from Hildreth’s article. Thus, in the encyclopedia, the morphology of Edward Mordake’s condition was analyzed, but no apparent medical cause for the strange deformity was established. 

A possible explanation for the birth defect could be a more severe form of craniopagus parasiticus (a parasitic twin that did not develop entirely and was absorbed in the uterus by the other fetus).

The Minneapolis Mystery

Urban Legends and Horror Stories - The Minneapolis Mystery

A strange urban legend originating in Minnesota is as weird as it is disturbing. 

In the summer of 1983, two police officers from the police department in Minneapolis, Minnesota, made a shocking discovery: the charred body of a woman. 

But here’s the strange part. 

According to official reports, the body was found crammed into a stove oven.

In the kitchen, the law enforcement officers found a video camera securely mounted on a tripod and pointing toward the oven. Detectives analyzed the video camera, but to their surprise, the device was empty.

As there were no signs of breaking in, nothing was missing from the house, and no evidence of a crime was found upon autopsy, the police had to file the case as a suicide. 

This, even though the circumstances were quite bizarre.

How was such a suicide possible? How could the woman have entered inside the oven all by herself? Who attempted to film the event?

A few months later, the house was put up for sale. 

To increase its value, a team of builders was hired to do a series of renovations to the property. The project was almost completed when one of the workers was asked to clean and spruce up the backyard.

Under a pile of leaves and branches, the worker discovered a well. As rustling noises emanated from within, a man was tied with a rope and lowered into the well. 

Inside, he found some garbage and a VHS cassette, which he retrieved and handed to the police.

Despite being in an advanced state of deterioration and the fact that the recording was of poor quality, the law enforcement officers recovered a good part of what was on the tape.

In the film appeared a woman, immediately identified as the house’s former owner.

Astonished, the law enforcement officers watched as the woman set up the video camera on what appeared to be a steady support – possibly a tripod.

Then, with an unusual calm, she lit the oven. She turned to face the camera, smiled, and mumbled something. Then, she turned back to the stove, opened the door, and crawled inside, contorting her body unnaturally. After that, the woman closed the stove from the inside.

After a few minutes, the oven started shaking violently, and a cloud of black smoke rose from within. The video camera continued recording for 45 minutes, after which it stopped.

Stunned by what they had seen, the law enforcement officers decided not to make the recording public to avoid panic. The local community was not even informed about the existence of the VHS cassette.

Charlie No-Face

Urban Legends and Horror Stories - Charlie No-Face

Initially, it was believed to be just an urban legend, but the story of Charlie No-Face proved true. 

Charlie No-Face’s real name was Raymond Robinson, born on October 29, 1910, in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. 

When he was only 8 years old, Raymond was struck by lightning. Fortunately, the electrical discharge did not kill him on the spot, but he suffered terrible burns to his face and body. 

After spending months in the hospital, Raymond recovered, but his face was left with horrible scars. 

Aware of his physical deformities, which were scary for the other people around, Raymond became reclusive and would only leave the house after dark. 

The years passed and the terrible accident that left him disfigured earned him the nickname Charlie No-Face. 

After sunset, Charlie No-Face could be seen walking along Route 351 in Beaver County. While the locals had grown accustomed to his presence, tourists and passers-by were terrified. 

This was the start of the legend of the monster roaming the roads of Beaver County.

Film producer Tisha York studied Raymond Robinson’s story for almost three years. 

This is what she said during an interview:

Looking at the old Victorian houses, you will notice that most have isolated rooms with all the necessary facilities, from furniture to plumbing. Families of that time used these rooms for children like Raymond. Things were different back then. People like Raymond were kept away from the world. That doesn’t mean they were mistreated. But they were marginalized, even by their own families.

Raymond Robinson passed away in 1985 at 74 and was buried in the Grandview Cemetery in Beaver Falls.

The Statue

Urban Legends and Horror Stories - The Statue

Our list of urban legends and horror stories ends with a short tale, especially prevalent in some wealthy communities in the United States. 

The clown (or, in some cases, angel) statue story has been circulating for some time and has been picked up by several newspapers and news sites, presenting it as an actual event that took place.

It all begins on any given night with a wealthy family from a small American town. As they had to attend a charity event, the two spouses hired a nanny to watch the children for that evening. 

The nanny received clear instructions regarding what the children were allowed and not allowed to do. At the same time, she was forbidden to rummage through the house, basically having access only to the living room, kitchen, bathroom, and children’s bedroom. 

The first part of the evening was quiet, and the girl followed the instructions precisely. She helped the children with their homework, prepared some dinner, and at the appointed time, put them to bed. 

After finishing her responsibilities, the young girl went to the living room to watch TV. 

From this point, the horror story takes a strange turn.

A cold shiver ran through her body as she was sitting on the couch when she noticed a silhouette standing still in a dark corner of the room. Looking more closely, the girl saw a clown-shaped statue about three feet tall.

Although scared, the girl ignored the clown at first. 

But then, out of the corner of her eye, the nanny glimpsed movement from the corner where the statue was. Spooked, she called the two spouses to ask permission to move the statue to another room:

The kids are sleeping in their rooms; they are such angels. But I have a small request. Can I move the clown to another room? I can’t stand clowns; they scare me.

After a few moments of silence, the girl heard the father’s voice through the phone:

Take the children and run out of the house. We will call the police. Hurry!

The girl rushed upstairs, picked up the children, and all three ran outside. After a few minutes, a police car pulled up in front of the house. While the law enforcers searched the residence, the young girl called the parents again, asking for some explanations. 

We don’t have clown statues in the house, but the children have complained several times that a sinister clown watches them while they sleep at night. We didn’t believe them until now. 

Although they searched every room carefully, the police officers did not find any clown-shaped statues.

These are just some of the strangest, weirdest, and most terrifying urban legends and horror stories. Many circulate in several versions (the general idea is the same, but some key elements differ). 

But regardless of the differences between these horror stories and urban legends, all of them are inspired by events that really happened.

At Ancient Theory we only use trusted sources to document our articles. Such relevant sources include authentic documents, newspaper and magazine articles, established authors, or reputable websites.

  • Bill Ellis - Lucifer Ascending: The Occult in Folklore and Popular Culture. University of Kentucky, 2014.
  • Bloody Mary (folklore). [Source]
  • Top 10 Cursed Phone Numbers.
  • Jacklyn Skurie - Superstitious Numbers Around the World.
  • George M. Gould şi Walter L. Pyle - Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine: Human Book.
  • Edward Mordake - [Source]
  • Gina Dimuro - The Story Of Edward Mordrake, The Man With Two Faces.
  • Raymond Robinson (Green Man) - [Source]
  • David Emery - The Creepy Urban Legend About the Clown Statue.