From the annals of history to chilling urban legends told around a campfire, here are facts that range from twisted, strange, and creepy–and some; all at once.
1. Cult Classic Coincidence
Kim Walker played Heather Chandler in the movie Heathers, a character who was the leader of a popular clique and delivered many acerbic one-liners. Notably, her line, “Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?” is now touched by tragedy. Kim Walker died of a brain tumor 13 years after she said the line on the big screen.
2. Aliens In The Woods
In the year 1975, within the pine trees of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, six workers from a logging crew allegedly witnessed a laser blast from a UFO striking their coworker, Travis Walton. Terrified, the rest of the crew fled and reported Walton as missing. However, the plot thickened when Walton mysteriously turned up days later, claiming an alien abduction.
According to Deputy Sheriff Chuck Ellison, the officer Walton’s coworkers spoke to, the witnesses were “distraught” when they gave their report. He said that “if they were acting, they were awfully good at it.” The six corroborative witnesses and Travis Walton, the alleged abductee, still stand by their paranormal account to this day.
3. Caffeine Horror
Coffee was illegal in 17th century Turkey. Sultan Murad IV would walk the streets of Istanbul dressed as a commoner and equipped with a sword so that he could catch coffee-drinkers in the act. He beheaded any caffeine consumers he discovered with the sword he carried. Ibrahim I, his brother and successor, had a two-strike policy for the same offense.
The first strike was a beating. The second strike was to be sewn into a leather bag, tossed into the river, and drowned. Honestly? I still think I’d risk it.
4. Haunted Doll Town
Within the borders of Xochimilco, a borough of Mexico City, lie several man-made floating gardens interspersed throughout canals. One such garden is a tourist attraction called the “Island of the Dolls.” Legend has it that Don Julián Santana Barrera, the caretaker of this island, found a young girl drowned in the canal. Next to her, he discovered a doll, also floating in the water. Believing the doll to be hers, and wishing to honor her memory, he hung it up from a tree.
Afterward, he believed he was haunted by the spirit of the drowned girl. Hoping to mollify her ghost, he strung up dolls he’d found in the canal. Eventually, locals began trading him new dolls in exchange for produce grown on the island. The caretaker of the island, known as a loner by locals of Xochimilco, died of drowning at 80 years old in 2001, in the same spot Barrera claimed he found the drowned girl decades earlier.
5. Plagued Trains
Millions of people, Londoners and tourists alike, enter and exit the Aldgate tube station every year. If passengers have ever felt a chill while passing over by train, that may be due to the fact that Aldgate station was built over one of London’s largest plague pits.
6. Spooky Triangle
It seems only fitting that one of the spookiest states, haunted by the legacy of witch trials, is also home to its own concentrated area of witnessed paranormal events. Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman named a 520 square km area in Massachusetts the “Bridgewater Triangle” in 1983 due to the abnormal amount of supernatural sightings within.
Sightings at Hockomock Swamp vary from moving orbs of light at night, raptors with wingspans over twice an average man’s height (including one “thunderbird” reported by a police sergeant), gigantic snakes, and of course Bigfoot. It’s not all magical creatures, either: Authorities in Freetown-Fall River have long investigated satanic activities in the region, including grave-robbing.
7. Ghost Ship
On February 22, 1918, the USS Cyclops, supplying fuel to the American fleet during WWI, departed for Baltimore from Brazil. The ship was heavily loaded with cargo, and had 306 people aboard. The ship never reached Brazil. Despite a major search, no trace of ship, cargo, or crew has ever been found. After the war, historians pored over German records to ascertain if the ship might have sunk in combat, but they found no record of an attack on the Cyclops.
The disappearance is the single largest loss of life in U.S. naval history not related to combat.
8. Vampire Law
Vampire hysteria, which encompassed exhumations of graves and the desecration of the bodies inside them, became such a prevalent problem in the former Austrian region of Silesia that Empress Maria Theresa issued laws prohibiting hunts for vampires and other necromancies.
9. Haunted Forest
A mysterious forest in Romania is allegedly home to a slew of paranormal activity, including a UFO sighting, several sightings of a ghost in traditional Romanian dress, and visitor reports of their handheld electronics malfunctioning. But even without the paranormal events, the forest is creepy as anything. Its name, the Hoia Baciu Forest, alludes to the legend of a shepherd who disappeared within its strangely curved trees, along with a flock of sheep.
10. Glass King
Charles VI of France believed he literally was made of glass and could shatter at any moment. Due to this belief, he tried inventive ways to protect such fragile material from breaking, like having his tailors saw iron rods into the fabric of his clothes as protection. Is it any wonder we now call him Charles the Mad?
11. Irish Avalon?
During the summer of 1878, the Irish townspeople of Ballycotton were shocked to find that an island they’d never seen before had seemingly formed in the ocean the night before. Eyewitnesses claimed they could make out the coastline of this new island, as well as fields, trees, and deep valleys. Fishermen set out to investigate the new isle, only to find that it disappeared as soon as they came near.
12. Prophetic Moon
The great and famed city of Constantinople fell in 1453 during a partial lunar eclipse. Eerily, an earlier prophecy had stated that “Constantinople would always endure provided that the moon, in its full circle, did not give a sign in the sky.”
13. Holy Intervention
During Rome’s premiere of The Exorcist, lightning struck the 400-year-old cross of the church that stood right next to the cinema.
14. These Snakes Don’t Need Planes
Slithering along the ground is bad enough, but slithering through the air? A species of snake called Chrysopelea, native to Southeast Asia, can do just that. The snake is mildly venomous, but there are not many documented effects of its bites on humans. However, one individual case included several bite marks, moderate pain, and required hospital admission.
Pretty sure just the sight of a flying snake would be enough to give me a heart attack, so who needs poison?
15. Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction
According to a relative of V.C. Andrews, the bestselling gothic novel Flowers in the Attic was, at least in part, based on a true story. The relative claims that Andrews took inspiration for the story from a handsome young doctor when she was in the hospital. He had told her that he and his siblings had been locked away in an attic for several years in order to secure an inheritance. Her former editor also corroborates the claim.
16. Secret City
Explorer Percy Fawcett went missing during his search for the secret “Lost City of Z.” He based his search off of an 18th-century manuscript, and although it didn’t reveal the exact location of the city it described, Fawcett believed he would find it in Mato Grosso region of Brazil. After two years of no contact with his family or anyone else, the first of many searches for Fawcett and his companions began in 1928.
In 2005, members of the Indigenous Kalapalo tribe told journalist David Grann that Fawcett, despite their warnings, had traveled to an area owned by a fierce, warlike tribe, but no one knows for sure what happened to him.
17. Kissing Cousins
Queen Victoria’s husband was her first cousin by way of her maternal uncle. The couple had nine children together. This pattern continued later, as Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Victoria Melita, would marry not one but two of her first cousins.
18. The Universe In The Sea
According to researchers in Switzerland and the University of Miami, there exists an aquatic equivalent to black holes on Earth—more specifically, in the Earth’s oceans. Gigantic eddies in the southern Atlantic ocean have similar characteristics to black holes in space. Some of these “maelstroms” span up to 150 kilometers and their pull is so strong that no water can escape them for months at a time.
19. Beware The Crows
Crows can recognize individual human faces, according to a wildlife biologist and avian expert at the University of Washington. In a research study, researchers observed that crows would recognize the mask they wore while antagonizing them earlier in the study, dive-bombing and scolding anyone else who wore that particular mask.
So, not only do crows have facial recognition, but they also hold grudges!
20. Lupine Terror
Beginning in 1764, “Beast of Gévaudan” plagued the French countryside. The animal quickly became notorious for its alleged size, supernatural abilities, and violent method of attack on humans (generally, targeting the victim’s head or neck). Louis XV even awarded 300 livres to one surviving victim, Jacques Portefaix, and offered a reward for slaying the beast equivalent to an average French laborer’s annual salary.
One official hunter claimed the creature was “bigger than a wolf” with “very long hair.” Another likened the animal to a leopard and a lion, claiming it had red fur. Within the span of three years, the beast claimed nearly 600 victims. Finally, in 1765, one of the king’s professional hunters slew a large grey wolf of unusual height.
Locals hoped the nightmare was over, but unfortunately, the attacks continued. Finally, in 1767, another hunter allegedly slew a large creature using silver bullets, and the attacks finally stopped.
21. Familial Prophecy
Anne Boleyn is arguably the most notorious of Henry VIII’s six wives—but was she also a psychic? She allegedly declared to a lady-in-waiting that she “wished all the Spaniards in the world were in the sea.” If she did indeed say such words, they were eerily prescient. Anne Boleyn’s daughter, Elizabeth I, would live to see England invaded by Spain’s “Invincible Armada.” The result, for Spain, was crushing defeat due to severe storms and other factors.
An estimated 6,000 Spaniards did, indeed, die “in the sea” due to drowning during this failed invasion. Well, if ol’ Anne did indeed predict it, too bad she couldn’t predict what her beloved hubby would do to her…
22. Grave Dash
In the 18th century, church officials erected a parish watch-house across from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in London. Why? Local authorities stationed guards there to catch grave-robbers, who had been steadily emptying the graveyard. Oddly enough, the thieves weren’t stealing jewelry, but the dead bodies in the graves—which they’d later sell to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital.
23. Unlucky Thirteen
In August 2010, lightning struck a 13-year-old boy at the hour 13:13…on the date, Friday the 13th.
24. Vanished In Vermont
In 1992, folklorist Joseph A. Citro gave a nod to the unexplained disappearances and legends of the Bermuda Triangle when he christened a southwestern area of Vermont as the “Bennington Triangle.” The region is the perfect setting for the kind of mystery novel its concentrated disappearances and local legends have inspired: Densely wooded and centered upon the Glastenbury Mountain, experienced hunters have said that it’s all too easy to get lost within its forests, due to the cold and erratic wind common there. They might just be onto something…
Across an eight-year span from 1945 to 1953, six different people disappeared in the region. Of the six of them, only one of their bodies was ever found. There are several local legends surrounding these disappearances, as well as many theories. One local legend is that there exists an “Enchanted Stone” in the area that swallows anyone or anything that touches it. Another is that Native Americans believed Glastenbury Mountain is cursed.
None have been able to discover a connection between the disappearances besides their location and the time frame. There is no discernible pattern between the disappearances, as the missing persons shared no similarities in gender, age, or profession.