Ah, Halloween: the one time of year when it’s completely appropriate to scare the fecal matter out of loved ones and friends. If your goal is to make sure children can’t sleep at night, a disturbing urban legend is just the ammunition you need.

While some of these stories are pure fantasy, others are rooted in unnerving, tragic events that actually took place:

Bloody Mary

So, the legend goes that if you enter the bathroom, turn off the lights, and chant the name “Bloody Mary” over and over again, you might see the bloody ghost of a witch appear in the mirror, or perhaps a woman killed in a car crash, or the English Queen Mary Tudor (aka Bloody Mary). The ghoulish spirit may or may not claw your face off, depending on its mood. After we sent one of our editors into the bathroom to try “Bloody Mary” out for herself, we decided this urban legend is just that—a myth. Of course, we haven’t seen that editor in over a year now, but that’s surely just a coincidence.

A Corpse Under Your Bed

If your hostel or hotel room reeks, it could be due to a rotting corpse underneath your bed. Really, everyone knows to look under the bed for cadavers and/or monsters. This particular urban legend has its roots in history, and it’s happened numerous times around the world. A murder goes down, the killer hides the body beneath the bed, housekeeping misses the newly departed, and then, weeks later, your dream vacation at that quaint little B & B is interrupted by the gruesome stench of decaying flesh. Adventure is a part of travel, and dead bodies under the bed definitely equal creepy adventure.

A Real Halloween Hanging

Yep, Halloween pranks sometimes go awry and someone actually gets hanged. There are several documented instances of this happening over the years. One of the best-known cases occurred in Frederica, Delaware, when a woman committed suicide by hanging herself from a tree, near traffic. Locals and drivers thought she was a holiday decoration, until someone finally decided to check out the dangling corpse, and realized it wasn’t a seasonal adornment at all.

Other people have also hanged themselves on Halloween when their performances, pranks or safety checks have misfired, resulting in actual deaths. Spectators, naturally, mistook them for part of the Halloween entertainment.

Purloined Kidneys

You wake up (if you're lucky) in a tub full of ice, and quickly realize someone has robbed you of one of your kidneys. This urban legend about organ theft has lots of people sleeping with one eye open when they happen to be in an unfamiliar place. Sadly, con men and criminals have been able to persuade their marks to undergo elective surgery, or to be examined by a “doctor”—famously in Brazil, India and Russia—and then when the “patient” is unconscious, one of his or her kidneys gets cut out and sold on the black market.

Sadly, extremely poor or desperate people have even volunteered their bodies for this bloody mess, in order to get cash for their organs. It's a cruel world, indeed.

Buried Alive

Burying folks who weren’t 100 percent dead used to be a real problem. These days the checks for genuine death are pretty rigorous, but in the past a deep coma or exceptionally weak vital signs could be enough for the attending physician to say, “Bury this poor sucker. He’s as dead as a doornail,” ... except the diagnosis might have been wrong. It was such a worry, in fact, that special coffins with devices that could raise a signaling flag, or ring a bell on the outside were built. You know, just in case you woke up and discovered that you were encased in a coffin, but not quite dead.

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