1. POISONED CANDY
The most persistent Halloween urban legend of all is the idea that somewhere in your hometown lurks a sadist who’s poisoning the Halloween candy he’s giving out to random trick-or-treaters. In history, there’s only been one case of someone deliberately poisoning Halloween candy—but it wasn’t to random children. It was Ronald O’Bryan of Texas who intentionally spiked his son’s Pixy Stix with cyanide, hoping to collect a huge insurance payout. He also gave the candy to three other children hoping to cover his tracks, but apparently none of them liked Pixy Stix, so none of them indulged. O’Bryan’s son, though, died from the poisoning. O’Brien received the death penalty and died via lethal injection in 1974,
2. BLOODY MARY
This ancient urban legend isn’t entirely specific to Halloween, but many of its versions involve performing the incantation on Halloween night. It says that if you stare at yourself in a mirror while saying “Bloody Mary” three times, some demonic woman will appear from the other side and possibly try to drag you into her parallel universe. If you do this and see an angry woman staring back at you, it’s probably your mom, who’s just walked into your room and is wondering why you’re being so silly.
3. THE SPIDER WIG
As this tall tale goes, a young girl was rooting around in her grandma’s attic seeking a Halloween costume. She chooses a wig and something that looks like a witch’s hat and attends a party. Then her scalp begins to itch. Then partiers begin screaming as they see that thousands of tiny spiders have come out of the wig and are crawling all over her face.
4. SATANISTS KILLING BLACK CATS
Although it would be unwise to put anything past Satanists, this is a persistent rumor that they do live sacrifices of black cats on Halloween Eve. This has never been proved, but it has forced some animal shelters to prohibit cat adoption on or shortly before Halloween.
5. HALLOWEEN FALLS ON FRIDAY THE 13TH THIS YEAR
Most people should realize that this is impossible. (Hint: transpose the “13” and you get “31,” the day on which Halloween falls EVERY year.) But some people still fall for it. They clearly need help.
6. LSD TATTOOS FOR KIDS
Starting in the 1970s, rumors began spreading that people were handing out temporary tattoos to kids, which doesn’t seem so bad. Kids like temporary tattoos. They’re fun. But they’re not so much fun if they’re laced with LSD that gets absorbed into the skin once applied—and that was the crux of this hoax. It originally started as a Blue Star tattoo, but subsequent versions feature Bart Simpson, Superman, and Mickey Mouse. Thankfully, there is no evidence of this ever actually happening.
7. PSYCHIC PREDICTS CAMPUS MURDER
This involves famous psychics making TV predictions that a mass murder will take place on an unspecified college campus on Halloween night. It started in the late 1960s and persisted at least until 1998. The TV show in question varied, as did the psychic who allegedly made the prediction. In each case, the rumor was wrong and there were no campus massacres on Halloween. A lot of drunk students in ghost costumes, maybe, but no massacres.
8. THIRTEEN-STORY HAUNTED HOUSE
The legend apparently started in Pennsylvania but has appeared in Chicago, Detroit, and other places. It involves a haunted house where guests sign waivers before entering and have to make it all the way up to the thirteenth floor. If they make it to the top, they receive a cash reward. Problem is, no one ever made it to the top alive.
9. MALL TERRORIST ATTACK
This viral email hoax began the month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and involve a letter from a woman who claims her friend’s boyfriend is from Afghanistan and had left the country in advance of the 9/11 attacks. He then warned his girlfriend not to go on any airplanes or visit on malls on Halloween, because terrorists were plotting to attack both. Fortunately, the email was a hoax.
10. 1962 IDAHO HALLOWEEN MASSACRE
See the creepy grinning partygoer in the black mask? According to legend, he attended a 1962 Halloween party in Idaho. At some point after this picture was taken, he locked all the doors and proceeded to start murdering all the guests. He killed seven before escaping, never to be found. It was reported that the FBI found the mask in 1969. None of it ever happened, of course, but it’s still a good story.
11. FAMILY BEHEADING PHOTO
A severely aged photo from at least 100 years ago purports to show English children Susan and John Buckley hoisting their mother’s decapitated head for Halloween—these were not nice children! However, the original photo was doctored, as is shown in this animated GIF above.
12. KILL A PIT BULL DAY
This is a fairly recent hoax that started in 2012. Emails began circulating—and eventually went viral—claiming that October 31 was not only Halloween, it was also “National Kill A Pitbull [sic] Day.” It urged everyone who owned pit bulls to keep their pets safely locked in their homes, because a group of roving maniacs planned to club, stab, and shoot to death every pit bull in their sight. It turned out to be merely a prank that got way out of hand—it was originally targeted at a Missouri politician who had agitated for stricter pet ordinances.
13. HALLOWEEN NIGHT GANG INITIATION
Also fairly recent, this false rumor that started in 2008 involved an email hoax warning people that the Bloods street gang were holding an initiation on Halloween night requiring them to kill 31 women—one for every day of October. Subsequent versions said the gang initiates had to kill up to 140 women on Halloween. To the relief of women nationwide, it was only a hoax.