The thin line between curiosity and fear is often what motivates us to watch films that revolve around mysteries such as urban legends. From the Bunny Man to the Jersey Devil, many well-known urban legends have made their way onto the silver screen. Join us as we explore the top 10 films based upon urban legends which are guaranteed to raise some goose bumps and make you double check every door you lock. These stories are quite literally nightmares that have come to life through motion picture.
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II, III, IV) and starring True Blood’s Stephen Moyer, "Devil in the Woods" is a visceral and bloody mix of horror and the supernatural. Starting out as an innocent and well meaning family trip, everything soon takes a dark turn as strange events begin to occur and a local legend seems to be more than just a scary story.
Devil in the Woods (2014)
Devil in the Woods centres on Richard Vineyard (Moyer) who is desperate to bring his new family together. In order to strengthen the bond between his son, step daughter and new wife, he plans a family getaway in the forest. As the film goes on, their situation becomes increasingly grave as they realise that the urban legend of the Jersey Devil may be a reality after all.
The Jersey Devil is a supposed chimerical creature that is a cross between a goat, bat and kangaroo that stalks the New Jersey Pine Barrens. According to legend, the Jersey Devil was the 13th child of a witch named ‘Mother Leeds’ and the devil himself. Born human, the baby transformed into a grotesque creature killing the midwife before flying out of the chimney into the Pine Barrens. Talk about bad genes.
Hylo tells the story of Laura Maters, a psychologist who agrees to take care of a patient’s daughter in while he rehabilitates himself from his fear of forests (hylophobia). As Laura takes care of the daughter, she begins to be followed by a mysterious figure in a suit - the same figure that her patient had feared. As her suspicions are confirmed, she begins to question whether her patient's phobias are in his head or a reality.
The Slender Man started as an internet meme in 2009 and is most frequently pictured as a tall, thin and gormless man with long tentacle-like arms which enable him to catch his victims. His face is featureless, often in a suit and commonly stalks, abducts or traumatises people, mainly children.
The Bunnyman Massacre (2011)
Perhaps the most bizarre of urban legends on this list, Bunny Man follows six friends as they drive along a desolate road. They begin to get harassed by a truck driver who is dressed in a rabbit costume whose disturbances become more and more violent. As the six begin to run for their lives, they meet a couple of people who appear safe but soon reveal themselves as the Bunny Man’s accomplices. Filled with horror and gore this fast paced film is guaranteed to get pulses racing.
The Bunny Man is an urban myth that began in Virginia, most commonly involving a man dressed in a bunny costume who assaults his victims with an axe – probably not the most practical of costumes but hey ho.
Yeti: Curse of the Snow Demon (2008)
This film focuses on the survivors of a plane crash which lands them deep in the Himalayas. As the survivors gather their bearings, a few of them find a trail of blood which leads to a yetis’ lair. After many narrow escapes and not so successful rescue attempts, this terrifyingly bloody film not only explores the fears of the mysterious creatures but also the extent we will go to do survive.
The yeti is one of the most famous creatures within cryptozoology. It is typically described as being a large, ape like creature. Many sightings have been recording but no hard evidence.
Turistas tells the story of a group of young backpackers' on holiday. With the trip initially successful, things soon take a turn for the worse as a bus accident leaves them stranded in a remote Brazilian rural area that holds a dark secret. As they find out more they realise that they must fight to live or have everything they need to survive stolen from them.
Although not as official as the Yeti, Bunny Man or Jersey Devil, the idea of tourist organ harvesting is a very popular one amongst films and is certainly one that is both terrifying and mysterious. Time to buddy up I think...
Bloody Mary (2006)
Bloody Mary follows a group of psychiatric nurses as they call upon the spirit of Bloody Mary, which sparks off a series of murders. First, a nurse assistant disappears and then patients begin to turn up dead, tortured, soaked in blood with their eyes ripped out. Freed from her eternal prison behind the mirror's reflection, Bloody Mary lets loose on a murderous rampage in the asylum.
The Bloody Mary legend refers to the conjuring of her spirit by chanting her name into a mirror in a dim lit room, multiple times. Often described as bloody, a witch or ghost, she is said to scream, curse, strangle and even gouge out the eyes of her victims. Did it ever occur to them to just skip the whole conjuring and just make some Bloody Marys instead?
Chupacabra: Dark Seas (2005)
When cryptozoologist Dr. Peña captures a Chupacabra on a remote Caribbean island and smuggles it aboard a cruise ship. The creature soon escapes becoming a danger to all the passengers to the extent that Navy SEALs are brought in. As the passengers and Navy SEALs are killed off one by one, Dr. Peña has no choice but to use the ship’s fitness instructor as live bait to capture the Chupacabra. However as we see Chupacabra’s are not as easily tricked as we may think.
The Chupacabra is a creature which is said to inhabit parts of the Americas, with the first sightings recorded in Puerto Rico. The name derives from the animal's reported characteristic of attacking and drinking the blood of livestock, particularly goats. It is said to be the size of a small bear, with a row of spikes trailing from the neck to the base of the tail.
Urban Legends (1998)
Starring Jared Leto and Tara Reid, Urban Legend is a horror slasher film that shows a killer using a whole host of urban legends to capture and murder his victims.
Amongst the scenes evoking the Bloody Mary, Babysitter and Penis Captivus legends, Urban Legends has a part dedicated to the Bubble Yum Spiders legend. This was the myth that Bubbly Yum bubblegum used spider eggs as one of their ingredients and would hatch and burst out of your cheek. I think I’ll stick to Wrigley’s thanks...
Loch Ness (1996)
A slightly more light hearted film, this fantasy drama follows a scientist as he attempts to prov e the existence of the Loch Ness Monster. With other themes such as romance, empathy and morality this film is certainly for the whole family but does contain a lot of gritty cryptozoology guaranteed to captivate the audience.
The Loch Ness Monster is a large unknown lake animal that is said to inhabit Loch Ness in Scotland. Its description varies but is most commonly identified as long creatures with a thin head however most of evidence of its existence is anecdotal. Though as urban legends go, Nessy is far cuter than Bunny Man.
Campfire Tales (1991)
Another anthology of horror stories, Campfire Tales centres on a group of teenagers telling tall tales around a campfire and stars Gunner Hansen. Although less bloody, this film is certainly a modernised classic, complete with a twist.
Taking centre stage as the main theme in Campfire Tales is Hookman - a classic urban legend. Typically, the story begins with an enamoured young couple parked up on a lovers’ lane. The radio blasts out news of a serial killer that has just escaped a nearby institution. The killer has a hook in place of one of his hands which they discover attached to the outside handle of one of the doors. There are many variations on this tale, but more often than not it doesn’t end well for the young lovers.
Devil in the Woods is available on UK DVD from March 3rd 2014.
Buy the UK DVD from Amazon.co.uk