19 Most Interesting Scary Creatures From Urban Legends

10 mins read
Image by Comfreak from Pixabay/Copyright 2022

Remember the fairytales that we all heard as children while growing up? Whether it be the princess that needed saving or little red riding hood hiding from the big, scary wolf. We have heard it all. But the one thing that always caught our interest more was the scary ones.

Each country around the world has its version of the boogeyman or another scary creature. Some even have creepier legends starring even more scary creatures. So if you are curious about them, then don’t worry. We have just the right amount of perfect creep-worthy list of scary creatures from urban legends for you.

Whether it be human flesh-eating monsters or witches with supernatural powers, there’s just about everything. So without waiting further, let’s start with our list!

Top 15 Scary Creatures From Around the World

1. Jack-o-Lanterns

We have to begin our list with these oh-so-famous lanterns that are a staple every Halloween.

You all must be famous with these lanterns, but do you know how they came out to be? Well, Americans owe these lanterns to the Irish Immigrants.

The whole story goes that there once used to live a man named Stingy Jack who tricked the Devil. He was, in turn, condemned to walk through Earth for eternity without being able to get into either Hell or Heaven.

Jack o lanterns
By Archie Gleason/flickr/Copyrights 2022

This Celtic traditional tale original had Jack carrying a lamp carved out with turnip to help him while wandering in the dark. But as the Irish immigrants came to America, they slowly changed the folklore from turnips to more available pumpkins.

31st October, Halloween Day, is also Celtic New Year’s eve, and these jack o lanterns are used to ward off the evil spirits.

2. Vampires

Vampires have become super popular cultural symbols. Not just folklore, but the various adaptations in literature and movies have catapulted it to its worldwide popular icon status.

The original folklore comes from the 18th-19th Century Eastern European folklore. According to the folks of Medieval Eastern Europe, people who were born with deformities or had an unfortunate death could actually arise from the dead after their burial. These scary creatures were to terrorize people after coming back from the dead.

Vampires were originally imagined to be ruddy and puffed up. It is only after famous literature like Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”(1897) that vampires got their bloody fangs and a thin, pale body. Furthermore, Teenage fiction like Twilight made Vampires out to be these beautifully pained but scary creatures. An anti-hero of sorts.

Now, these Scary creatures have become a part of the mainstream and a popular urban legend.

3. Zombies

Scary creatures
Photo by Zorik D on Unsplash/Copyright 2022

Zombie movies are an absolute fan favorite, so it’s no wonder that these scary creatures have ended up on this list. Zombies are actually a part of Haiti’s Voodoo culture.

According to the Haiti voodoo practices, these scary creatures are formed when an individual’s soul is sucked from their body or has been bought back from the dead by black magic.

Zombie culture is a product of the voodoo religion of Haiti, where they believe that people can be bewitched and captured to be put into a mindless trance state. Unlike the human flesh-eating zombies shown in movies and portrayed in books, Zombies are actually more a product of sorcery and black magic.

According to its Haitian-origin story, the corpses were brought back to life by voodoo priests known as Bokors. Once brought back to life, these zombies would then be like puppets under the commands of the Bokors.

The earliest that zombies were found in literature was in 1929 book called “The Magic Island” by William Seabrook. It was later purported in the movie culture by the film called White Zombie. Now, these scary creatures are more of a victim of the plague, and a virus is gone rogue instead of the original sorcery things.

4. Witches

One of the most popular urban legends is witches. Whether it be the magical and brilliant witches of the wizarding world of Harry Potter or the scary Halloween witches with point hats, you can find these creepy humans almost everywhere.

In the past, witches were ostracized and hunted for their magical powers. They were thought to be connected to the natural order and were demonized. Being branded as heretics by the Christian Church, there was a widespread hunt for them in medieval Europe and 17th Century Europe.

Now the witches’ costumes are one of the most popular and sought-after costumes for Halloween.

5. Gargoyles

These stone monsters protruding out of cathedrals have become a creepy symbol. They have become the centre of many scary stories, but they were built to keep the rainwater off the cathedral’s roof.

But these stone Gargoyles’ purpose wasn’t just decorative, but they also supposedly warded off the evil spirits from the cathedrals.

6. Chupacabra

This scary creature comes from the folklore of Puerto Rico. The Chupacabra literally translates to “goat-sucker.” As the name suggests, these scary creatures actually suck the blood out of their victims, i.e., the livestock. This legend can be traced back to the ’90s.

chupacabra
By Michael Snipes/flickr @copyrights 2022

Whenever any livestock was found drained of blood, the Chupacabra was often helmed as the villain of the story. The people with less imaginative minds blamed the mange-infected dogs and coyotes for harming their livestock.

7. Headless Horseman: Dullahan

A scary creature from the Irish legends, The Dullahan is a headless man who rides on a horse looking for his prey and scanning his surroundings, but that’s not all. He carries his head on his hands while he rides upon his horse!

Now, if that wasn’t creepy enough, the Dullahan also has a whip made of a human spine. And, if he were ever to call your name, that person would die instantly.

8. Diao Si Gui

Another creepy story from a different part of the world is an urban legend from China. The Diao Si Gui is a ghost of a hanging victim with its long, red and scary tongue hanging perpetually from its gaping mouth.

These are supposedly the ghosts of people who were killed by hanging. It could either have been an execution, suicide, murder, or accident. Their spirits are believed to hang around the living and scare people into living with them.

9. Adze

Another one of the scary creatures from around the world is the Adze. An urban legend from Ghana, Adze, a vampire, has the power to turn into a firefly and kill humans in their sleep by biting them.

This creature is actually from the folklore of Ewe in Togo and Ghana. Ade has the ability to turn back into the form of a human if they are ever captured. They can also possess men, women, or children in their human forms. Although they prey on everyone, legend has it that they like drinking the blood of children the most.

10. Werewolf

These mighty beasts are pop culture icons seeping into literature and films alike. Instead of being a scary monster famous in Halloween and camp-fire myths, werewolves have been humanized by famous fiction like Harry Potter and Twilight.

werewolf
By Harem Malik/flickr /copyrights 2022

Traditionally, the werewolf is a human who can shape-shift into a wolf on full moon- nights. Some werewolves are even portrayed as a human-beast hybrid. The first mention of a werewolf was in “The Epic of Gilgamesh.”

These shape-shifting beasts also have a mythological past. According to Greek mythology, Lycaon, son of Pelasgus, was cursed by Zeus into becoming a wolf after he was enraged by him. In medieval times, people who were believed to be werewolves were also hunted, just like the witches. 

11. Kodama

Kodama means Japanese tree spirits. These spirits can wander throughout the forest and through different trees. This term is also used to denote the trees that a Kodama may be residing in. These legends are almost 100 years old. While even though Kodama is known as tree spirits, they only dwell on specific trees.

A Kodama may look like just an ordinary tree, but if one attempts to cut it, they may be cursed for life. Some legends believe that the knowledge of the specific species of trees possessing a tree spirit is passed down through generations. They are also believed to be mountain gods by a few.

These tree spirits were introduced to the West through the 1997 studio ghibli film called “Princess Mononoke.” This legend even can be traced back to the book called “The Kojiki,” which translates to “Record of ancient matter.” This book is the oldest surviving Japanese book, and it also has mentioned a creature similar to this tree spirit.

12. Poltergeist

Poltergeists or ghosts are the most famous scary creatures. Found in almost every horror movie, these scary creatures have a knack for being the hero of every scary story or movie. A poltergeist in German translates into a “noisy ghost.” This spirit usually haunts a person rather than just a location.

They have the tendency of scaring people by displaying their anger on household items. Common tropes like banging doors, utensils flying, moving chairs shown in movies are actually believed to be the doings of a poltergeist.

The first cases of a poltergeist recorded officially were in Scotland and England in the late 1600s. The cases involved bewitched drums, devil worship, and even beggars seeking revenge. The famous movie Poltergeist also came out in the early 1980s.

13. Pontianak

This scary creature’s roots can be traced back to the Asian countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. Pontianak, also known as Kuntilanak, is supposedly the ghost of a woman who died while being pregnant.

Often, she is also described as a vampire with a vengeful spirit. Some legends believe that these scary creatures claws out the internal organs of humans and eat them (especially men’s).

The Pontianak or Kuntilanak is often described as a beautiful woman with long black hair, red eyes, and pale skin. These scary creatures are believed to be residing on banana trees during the day. The legend says that a Kuntilanak’s arrival is preceded by the sounds of an infant crying and the smell of a corpse or the plumeria flower.

The popularity of these scary creatures in Indonesian Mythology is what inspired the name of the capital city of the province of the Western Kalimantan region as Pontianak.

14. Banshees

Banshees are believed to be female spirits that foretell the death of a loved one by relentless and scary shrieks. Belonging to Irish mythology, the name “Banshee” is derived from the Old Irish Language. Their name means “female fairy” or “female elf.”

There are many types of Banshees. Some evil while some not-so-evil. The stories of the Banshees can be traced back to the 8th Century when a few women used to sing sorrowful songs to grieve the death of a person.

Since they accepted alcohol as Payment, they were termed as sinners and were cursed to become the shrieking banshees. Legends believe that not all banshees are evil.

Some Banshees wish to watch over their family even after their death. These banshees can appear as enchanting woman who sings sorrowfully haunting songs before a family member’s death. Most often, only the member for whom the song is intended can hear it.

But not all of these scary creatures are good. Some Banshees are so evil that they follow a person and shriek until they drive themselves insane or commit suicide. Banshees only serve as a warning for death, but they don’t necessarily kill anyone.

15. Ghoul

Belonging to the Arabic Folklore, Ghouls are shape-shifting demons. These scary creatures have humanoid features and take up the shape of the person that they had last devoured.

They have origins in the pre-Islamic Arabian region and are associated with empty places like Cemeteries, graveyards, and other uninhabited places. A male ghoul is referred to as “Ghul,” while a female ghoul is referred to as “Ghula.”

ghoul
By Septikphoto/flickr@copyrights 2022

Some legends also state that these scary creatures roam in the deserts and disguise themselves as animals, especially hyenas. They then lure unwary people into following them to desert wastes or inhabited places where they kill and prey on them.

In European mythology, Ghouls are considered to be undead who were humans but were cursed when they ate human flesh.

16. Black Flying Fox

When we think about bats, the first that automatically comes to our mind is Halloween. And as everything associated with Halloween, bats too are considered to be creepy and a symbol of fear and evil. But the Black Flying Fox is anything but.

Having a wingspan of almost 2 meters. They are considered to be the species of the world’s largest bats. The scariest myth associated with these bats is of a vampire-like demon called Mananangal in the Philippines.

These demons are supposedly a woman by the day who becomes a predator and demon at night. Its upper torso detaches itself and grows bat-like wings to help her fly and look for her prey.

But in reality, this is only a myth as the black flying fox only feasts on fruits and nectars, much less human blood.

17. Lion’s Mane Jellyfish

Another scary animal of the sea, the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish, has a reputation for being the largest jellyfish in the world and also the longest animal. The diameter of its bell is about 8 feet, and the length of its tentacles is about 120 feet. For comparison, the tallest adult human being ever was 8 feet tall, so you can imagine the length of its mighty tentacles!

18. Tarantula Hawk

Found in the Grand Canyon, the Tarantula Hawk is a large wasp with a blue body and orange wings. These wasps are found on every continent in the world except in Europe and Antarctica.

Normally, these creatures feed on pollen and nectar. However, the female wasps capture tarantulas to feed to her larvae. Imagine a wasp capturing a spider! This is also the reason why they have been named Tarantula Hawk.

They don’t bite typically but only if threatened. Their bites are considered to be instantaneously excruciatingly painful.

19. Emperor Scorpion

The Emperor Scorpions are probably the most famous scorpions shown in television and films. These creatures have a very creepy appearance with massive red claws, a Black back, and having a length that can grow up to 8 inches. One of the largest scorpions in the world, these scorpions may be glossy black but glow blue or green under UV rays.

emperor scorpion
By Kevin Walsh/flickr@copyrights 2022

Although for all their creepy appearance, their sting only consists of a mild venom and is not fatal to humans.

Conclusion

Halloween has a knack for scaring kids and children alike. The thrills of listening to or watching a horror story can never be matched with anything else. As such, it’s often a guilty pleasure for many!

With this, we conclude this list of scary creatures from all around the world.

Happy Reading!

For the horror movie buffs, do check: 8 new horror movies to checkout

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