Photo: Courtesy Warner Bros.
If you want to give yourself the willies, a horror movie marathon or a stack of Thomas Harris novels should do the trick. Or, you could just keep reading.
In the spirit of Halloween and ghost stories and wetting yourself out of fright, we've rounded up some spine-tingling urban legends from the world of pop culture. (Cue lightning bolt and Vincent Price's laugh.)
The urban legends have persisted for decades. Some have been debunked. Some remain mysteries. And, all of them are pretty much creepy as hell. We know Paul McCartney isn't dead, but did Phil Collins actually witness a murder? Did a movie kill Hollywood's funniest leading men? What the heck was going on with those munchkins?
Only one way to find out. Read on...if you dare. (Cue lightning bolt and...oh, you know already.)
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Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight"
In 1981, Phil Collins wrote a song about his divorce. He used a drowning metaphor, and suddenly a story sprung up that "In The Air Tonight" was written for a man Collins had seen witnessing a drowning. As legend tells it, Collins looked on in horror as the man did nothing to save the drowning victim. The man then attended a Collins concert, where he was confronted with the song's accusatory lyrics. Because, why call the police when you can just bust out a heavy drum line?
It all makes for a spooky story, but Collins himself has insisted over and over that the song really is just about his relationship ending.
The Curse of Atuk
What is Atuk? On the one hand, it's a screenplay (based on The Incomparable Atuk) that's been languishing in Hollywood for a good 40 years. On the other hand, it could be a cursed film project that has resulted in the deaths of John Belushi, John Candy, Sam Kinison, and Chris Farley.
As luck would have it, every actor attached to the lead role of Atuk has died, beginning with the death of Belushi in 1982. Now, one could argue that Belushi and Farley's overdoses, Kinison's car crash, and Candy's heart attack were all pure coincidence. Still, the superstition remains, and a film adaptation has never been made.
A Munchkin Mystery
Flying monkeys have nothing on this Wizard of Oz myth. Legend has it that a lovelorn munchkin extra can be seen hanging from a noose in the background of the unedited "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" sequence. Okay, so there's definitely something there, but a suicidal munchkin? Surely the Cowardly Lion would have said something? Watch the video below and see for yourself.
Photo: Courtesy Warner Bros.
The Marfa Lights
Many explanations — many of them of the paranormal variety — have been attributed as the cause of the ghostly lights that appear just east of Marfa, Texas. Though the general consensus is that they're just car headlights, one persistent rumor maintains that James Dean is involved. The '50s film icon died just after filming Giant in the area, and some claim that the lights are the headlights from his famed Porsche Spyder. Dean was driving the car when he had his fatal crash in 1955. But, that crash was in California, not Texas. Can ghosts take road trips?
The Three Men and A Baby Ghost
Eagle-eyed viewers have long claimed that the ghost of a young boy can be seen in the background of this scene (below). The fact that it was just a cardboard cutout of star Ted Danson is somewhat disappointing, unless you know, you want to live in a world where ghosts don't exist.
The "Love Rollercoaster" Scream
There's something funky going on in "Love Rollercoaster" from The Ohio Players, and we're not just talking about that catchy beat. Around the 1:24 mark there's a scream that, according to urban legend, is coming from a woman being murdered. A variety of theories have abounded about the identity of the victim, but the truth is, it's simply singer Billy Beck wailing over the instrumental section. The only thing killing here is the groove.