Mental Floss

8 Horror Myths Debunked (or Confirmed!)

Stacy Conradt
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At my house, Halloween is like Christmas. So, you'll notice a larger-than-usual number of my posts this month will be focused on the creepy and macabre. Today, we turn to Snopes to help us debunk (or validate!) a bunch of horror myths.

1. Crazy people put razorblades in apples and needles in Halloween candy. Sadly, that's true. There have been specific, documented cases about kids being pricked by needles hidden inside of Halloween candy. More than 80 cases have been recorded since 1959, but only 10 resulted in even a minor injury. The worst case was when one woman required a couple of stitches. In most cases, Snopes says, it's usually because siblings or friends were trying to freak each other out. In 2000, though, a man in Minneapolis did put needles in Snickers bars and handed them out to kids he didn't even know. One boy did get stuck, but not enough to require medical attention. The man responsible was charged with intent to cause death, harm or illness.

2. Crazy people poison Halloween candy. This one is NOT true. At least, not in the way you think. Most people would assume that someone like the above guy in Minneapolis would poison candy and hand it out to any little kid that shows up at his doorstep. Nope, no documented proof of that. But in 1974, Texan Ronald O'Bryan killed his own son and tried to make it look like he was given poisoned Halloween candy. He poisoned four Pixie Stix and gave one to his son and one to three other children "“ but not as the act of a random madman. He was just trying to make it appear random so he could blame this urban legend for his son's untimely death. None of the other children ate their Pixie Stix, but Timothy O'Bryan did and was pronounced dead at 10 p.m. on October 31, 1974.

3. Bad guys hide under women's cars in parking lots and slash their Achilles' Tendons. We've all gotten that e-mail, right? This scary story has been lurking around since the 1950s and has seen a resurgence in recent years with e-mail chain letters. Snopes says that yes, people have definitely been attacked in shopping mall parking lots. But none of attackers were ever lying underneath the car, and there are no documented cases of them slashing the victims' ankles.

4. We all know that The Amityville Horror was based on a true story"¦ except it wasn't.

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5. A "bug bite" on a woman's cheek ends up erupting with baby spiders "“ turns out a spider laid eggs under her skin. Nope. Not possible. There's a short story about this legend (involving a kiss from the devil) that dates all the way back to 1849, so it's an oldie. Apparently in 1998, a doctor in Mexico did tell a man that a bulge on his thigh could possibly be where a spider laid eggs, but no baby spiders ever erupted from it.

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7. People posing as the hanging victim at a haunted house have actually died"¦ and the whole night passed before they were discovered. Yep, that's true. It's happened on multiple occasions, actually, and suicides have been mistaken for Halloween pranks as well. One such occasion happened on October 26, 2005. A 42-year-old woman committed suicide by hanging herself from a tree on a busy road, but no one reported it for hours because they assumed it was just a Halloween decoration.

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