Whilst we rest safe in the knowledge that Witches don’t really ply the skies on Halloween we still have fears that we articulate in the modern equivalent of these old tales.
As a highly developed technically adept species with an understanding of science, medicine, psychology and our own extremely checkered history, we no longer believe that Halloween marks a time of year when the “doors between worlds” are slightly ajar and let loose upon our world the spirits, devils and demons of the netherworld. We have advanced out of the superstitious dark ages of ignorance into the sun drenched foothills of enlightened existence.
Hit Or Myth? Urban Legends At Halloween
• Axe murderers lurk around every corner
• Candy is poisoned or has razorblades in it
• Pit Bulls remaining mobile betting hunters won’t find them
Whilst this has brought with it exciting opportunities like the 3D Halloween Tournament at Bingo Hall, the Formula 1motor racing season and, perhaps more important substantially, a civil society, the progress we have made does not seem to have entirely overridden our pre-dereliction for the supernatural. Popular culture regularly uses it to entertain us, marketing scum use it to sell us things and we ourselves replace that which we lost when our innocence was beaten to death by the internal combustion engine, chemical weapons and the banking system.
The urban myths and legends our modern times have created are no more or less ridiculous than the tales of broomstick borne old hags, headless horsemen or pumpkin lantern carrying wanderers. They carry with them the same basic inducements to fear not easily tempered by rational thought that the old tales did. It’s quite easy to dismiss monsters under the bed as being impossible, until you’re lying alone in the dark right above one. Urban myths and legends achieve the same.
Obviously Halloween brings out rather more of this sort of thing than normal. Online gambling sites in the US use the symbolism of some to advertise their sterling services, the internet in general is awash with them and of course the media use any excuse they can to present some of them as if they were real, typically the more harmless or alarmist, so we thought we’d have a quick look at the 7 most common urban myths at Halloween.
1. Missing Hitchhiker – You pick up a young lady on a lonely road and give her a ride. She tells a tale of a girl who was murdered by a truck driver in the vicinity, or similar tale of violence and death at the hands of a lift-giving driver, and when dropped off the current driver looks in his mirror only to see the hitchhiker fade and vanish, the tale she told obviously about herself. A double whammy of advice to young ladies and optimistic men who see girls by the side of the road, this one will run and run.
2. Dead Body Under The Mattress – Staying at a cheap hotel on Halloween your night’s sleep is restless and uncomfortable and no matter how you twist and turn you just can’t fully rest. In the morning you complain to the desk clerk who insists there’s nothing wrong with their beds, and returns to the room with you. In an effort to show nothing amiss with the bed he lifts the mattress to reveal a long dead corpse. This one has the slightly added kudos of having been true in at least one instance.
3. Possessed Doll – Chucky has a lot to answer for. As believable as sensible US gambling laws, the terrorizing of a family or individual by a demonically possessed, sometimes voodoo reanimated, doll is a story that has been around for over a hundred years now and is continually trotted out by Hollywood as a horror vehicle. Modern incarnations of this include cabbage patch dolls, Toy Story merchandize and a whole host of action figures.
4. 13th Floor – The superstitious absence of a 13th floor in some high rise buildings has spawned this myth of trick-or-treaters finding themselves exiting the elevator on this non-existent level and never being seen again. Padded out in some versions with various scenarios of murder scenes whitewashed from history by re-numbering, this cautionary tale is often wrapped up with the sort of anti-greed messages you need to tell kids who possess enough candy to OD on.
5. Pit Bull Hunters – This Halloween a pack of a dozen psychotic Pit Bulls hyped upon drugs to increase their aggression will be loosed upon your local urban/suburban area at which point they will be hunted down as a sport by gangs of automatic toting crazies bussed in from all over the country who will be less than worried about collateral damage and watched over by an web audience partaking in internet betting in the US on who kills most.
6. Psycho On The Loose – Halloween is apparently the very best time to escape from a high security prison, mental asylum, congress or any other facility for the dangerous and insane. The 31st of October sees the streets literally flooded with masked killers stalking groups of teenagers who are doing nothing more than having fun in a manner adults wouldn’t approve of. This is probably why adults tell them of the inevitable horrifying slaughter.
7. Poisoned Candy – The all time classic this one triggers ever parent’s worse fears, and be it needles and pins in the confectionery or (as has been thrown about this year) marijuana laced chocolates from Colorado it is completely and entirely horseshit. It happened only once when a father poisoned his own child to claim life insurance. He was caught and executed. However it brings together the modern demons and the old fears in a manner guaranteed to stick around.
Of course Halloween also elicits new instances of old favorites, Slenderman, for example, creeps his pasta far more at this time of year, more people are kidnapped to have organs removed as they sleep in bathtubs of ice, and just about every car on the street is either driven by a homicidal manic or isn’t there at all having crashed many, many years before. As a species we might well have thrown off the belief in older superstitions merely to replace it with some new ones, which says much about us all.