Have you ever noticed that many of the ghosts in horror movies are female? Why is that? Try to list off a few iconic movie ghosts and you’ll probably get something like Samara from “The Ring” and that old lady from “The Shining.” Female ghosts have way better stories than men: they’re missing their children, they’re a vengeful lover, they’re mourning the loss of their youthful beauty or they’re trying to resurrect themselves by having sex with a living person.
Some of the world’s most famous ghosts are female, too. Some came from urban legends, while others have been seen in historic places. Others have become familiar sleepover games. Have you seen any of these ghostly women?
The Vanishing Hitchhiker
This one sounds like something straight out of “Scary Stories,” and it is one of the most famous urban legends of all time. The story tends to differ from teller to teller, but the basic story is that someone driving picks up a young, beautiful hitchhiker. They take her to her home and upon parking, notice she has vanished! The person who answers the door tells them the girl died years ago.
This famous Japanese ghost is a woman who targets children. She’s usually wearing a mask over her lower jaw, and upon meeting a child she removes the mask to reveal a sliced-up mouth. She asks the child if they think she’s beautiful; if they say no, she stabs them. If they say yes, she slits their mouth just like hers.
The ghost of Henry VIII’s decapitated wife is said to haunt the Tower of London, where she was imprisoned before she died. The king divorced her and beheaded her for not giving him a male heir, and accused her of witchcraft and incest. Anne’s ghost has her head, thankfully, but she’s still said to frighten passersby as she wanders through the halls. She’s even been seen in other historic buildings; she’s probably looking for justice. Poor Anne!
Spanish for “The Crying Woman,” La Llorona is always crying when you see her. She’s crying because she killed her children by drowning in order to be with the man she loved, and then he rejected her. She’s devastated and wanders about attempting to kidnap living children to be her new kids.
Another famous Mexican ghost is La Planchada, who haunts hospitals. When she was alive, she was a nurse – she may have been in love with a doctor who didn’t return the feeling, or perhaps she was just an unhappy woman who killed herself. The story changes, but she appears as a normal nurse to patients and often they feel much better after seeing her.
Kate Batts, the Bell Witch
In 1817, a man named John Bell and his family began experiencing ghostly happenings in their Tennessee home. The poltergeist-like activity (things being thrown, strange sounds, sugar being taken from bowls, ghostly laughter, spooked animals) was thought to be cause of a witch named Kate Batts. However, it was later found that daughter Betsy was probably causing the activity. However, the Bell Witch lives on; “The Blair Witch Project” was based in part on the Bell Witch legend.
The White Lady
Nearly every culture has a White Lady legend. For some, it’s a story similar to La Llorona. In other stories, it’s a Vanishing Hitchhiker tale. In many stories, the woman died in a terrible car accident and wanders around wearing white, frightening those who stop to help when they see her bloodied face. Other White Ladies mourn dead lovers.
It’s not just a classic sleepover game! Bloody Mary could be one of two women: the childless Queen Mary I or a famed child killer. When you dim the lights and repeat her name in the mirror, she thinks you’re taunting her for being childless. She might scratch you, curse you or strangle you. We all tried this one as kids, didn’t we? We never saw anything.
First Lady Dolley Madison was known for her grace and charm and played a role in making the White House a social epicenter. It is said that when another First Lady attempted to dig up Dolley’s beloved rose gardens, her ghost showed up and frightened the gardeners away. Take that! The roses are still blooming beautifully.