Scary Tales Around the World


For centuries, people have been telling scary stories about monstrous creatures and spooky spirits. I would like to share with you scary entities from around the world. There are many to choose from, like the Headless Horseman, but my list consists of creatures not many people know about.

Goatman (American folklore)

American folklore is steeped with scary tales, and few are as spooky as the the Maryland Goatman. According to urban legend, this menacing creature was a scientist carrying out an experiment involving goats. Unfortunately, there was a side effect. Goatman is often blamed for killing dogs, but he is especially notorious for attacking and preying on young couples in cars. His weapon of choice is an ax, which he uses to slash tires and dispatch his prey. Keep your eyes peeled when going out for a drive, because if you don’t, you’re in for a rough night.

La Llorona (Mexican folklore)

A list of scary tales is never complete without a ghost story. Mexico has La Llorona (la yo-RRO-na), the Weeping Woman. La Llorona is believed to be the ghost of a mother who drowned her offspring. To this day, she haunts rivers and creeks, searching and crying for her missing children. Parents mention La Llorona to keep their children in line. Some say this ghost steals kids who go out after dark and drowns them. If you take a walk down the river, keep an ear out for wailing.

Black Annis (English folklore)

From the child-eating witch in Hansel and Gretel to the famous Baba Yaga from Slavic folklore, stories often tell of wicked witches. In the Leicestershire countryside in England, parents warn their children of the evil crone known as Black Annis. According to British lore, this malevolent hag has a blue face, iron claws, and a taste for children and lambs. Black Annis lives in a cave that she dug with her own claws, called Black Annis’ Bower. There, she lies in wait to capture her prey and skins them alive before she eats them. Villagers make sure their windows are very small so Black Annis is unable to poke her arms through them. If you hear the sound of grinding teeth, look out.

Kuchisake-Onna (Japanese folklore)

There are plenty of terrifying monsters in Japanese folklore, one of which being Kuchisake-Onna, the Slit-Mouthed Woman. Kuchisake-Onna is the ghost of a woman who was wounded by her envious husband. Often wearing a surgical mask, she approaches travelers (usually children) and asks them if they think she is beautiful. If the victim says yes, she pulls off her mask and mutilates his face to look like hers. If the person says no, she dispatches her victim with a pair of scissors. Stories of this murderous yokai originated in the Edo period, but sightings occurred in the late 1970s.

Mngwa (African folklore)

People around the world tell stories of mysterious animals, from North America’s Bigfoot and Tibet’s Yeti to Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster and Australia’s Yowie. Tanzania has the Mngwa (MING-wa), a monstrous giant cat capable of killing its victims at the drop of a hat. Since the early 20th Century, there have been plenty of attacks from this stealthy creature. But so far, no one has succeeded in hunting or catching this feline beast. Grey tabby cat-like fur gives away the Mngwa’s presence, but it’s as elusive as it is deadly.

Ghouls (Arab folklore)

Middle Eastern lore is steeped with scary entities, and few are as terrifying as ghouls. According to legend, ghouls, or ghuls, are notorious for robbing graves, feasting on corpses, and preying on travelers. They often take the form of hyenas, as legends of ghouls presumably stemmed from hyenas raiding graveyards.

Yara-ma-yha-who (Australian mythology)

Count Dracula is the poster boy for famous vampires, but every culture has its share of spooky vampire tales. Australia has the yara-ma-yha-who, a frog-man who haunts fig trees. Like La Llorona, parents mention this ghastly creature to warn their children not to wander off. According to legend, the yara-ma-yha-who slurps up the blood of its prey with its fingers like a leech. Just as the bite of a werewolf can turn its victim into one, victims of the yara-ma-yha-who become these creatures themselves. The only way to escape this bloodsucker is to play dead.

Happy Halloween!