AITH Presents: Nick Groff's True Tales From Beyond - Urban Legends

One of my earliest memories as a child raised on horror is the time that I watched WHEN A STRANGER CALLS (1979) at far too young of an age. Here is the thing, when it came to the slasher flicks that I enjoyed, the victims were usually “teenagers” that appeared a whole lot older than sixteen, so perhaps I figured I was safe. While the incredible Carol Kane was playing a teen girl babysitting - and yes, she didn't look THAT young - you may remember that the ones who were killed in the famous, “Have you checked the children?” opening were just that, children. Trust me when I say that every damn time I had a babysitter after that, the thought of some killer making phone calls from the house stuck with me.

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What was even more frightening? The way people talked about this very story that insprired the film, it almost felt like it was absolutely real. According to Snopes, this adolescent nightmare began to take shape in the 60’s. It makes sense due to to the changing times, after all, the Sixties gave young people a whole new look into the world, and I'd imagine that it could sometimes be quite terrifying. For me, this babysitter's nightmare  horrified me on every level. Not only did this urban legend seem real, it also wasn’t shocking to hear someone say that they have a friend of a friend that something similar happened to. In addition, that same "killer making calls from inside the house" was also brilliantly done in the 1974 classic BLACK CHRISTMAS. The more times the story is told, the more frightening it became.

This got me thinking about urban legends. Not only how they are explored in horror, but what about the ones that are based in truth. After all, there are far more tales than just a crazed nut job attacking teens. With this, I began to wonder how many nightmarish tales have played a part in Nick Groff’s many investigations. How many haunted horrors had he investigated that are creepy urban legends which offered up some form of truth behind them. Here is what he had to say when it came to all the scary stories you tell around a campfires or at slumber parties.

Urban Legends are a huge part in paranormal investigations at locations with hauntings. The ghost stories and unexplainable encounters have to start with a story passed down by people through word of mouth. I love a good Urban Legend. Especially, when I have to figure out how truthful the story is within our investigation. Legends definitely bleed over into true paranormal investigations a lot more than you would think. Movies, in particular, have really become a major influence over the years playing up what is sometimes just a simple encounter with an unknown phenomenon and turning it into something to be reckoned with. Even giving that story the power to generate fear. The 1998 movie "Urban Legend" was a fun popcorn movie to watch and a good example of that. However, I will say it at least created a more realistic ending with the typical psycho running around killing people.

The best Urban Legend story I was ever told happened when I was 12yrs old on a camping trip with an adventure retreat lead by counselors. We were way up in Maine in the middle-of-nowhere woods. We took a canoe across a big pond to some area where we setup for camp that night. We all sat around the campfire and listened to the counselor tell a story about a fireman who looked over the woods. He lived on the top of the mountain with his wife and child. One day, a couple left their campfire going over night and it started a wildfire burning down the entire woods. The fireman was too late and his family burned to death. He swore revenge on any campers who started fires. The man disappeared into the woods. Years went by and suddenly new campers came into the woods and started fires. Brutal killings begun to mysteriously occur. More and more campers died and the police were at a loss to find the killer. The counselors telling the story said it was the biggest man hunt in the state to date. No one was ever found for the murders. The counselors then said with a creepy voice make sure these camp fires are completely out before bed.

This story intrigued me and scared the hell out of me, but not enough to deter my buddy and I from searching a bit through the woods that night.

I’ve come across a ton of Urban Legends on my journeys. Some Legends are over the top while others I’ve found to be real. If anything, they make a great story to tell around a camp fire with friends.

Extra Tidbit: What urban legend gave you nightmares? Is it the man with axe in the back seat? Or the hook hand on the car door? Tell us your favorite spooky tales!
Source: AITH



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