Terrifying urban legends which turned out to be true from Candyman to Polybius

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Say his name five times in front of a mirror and the Candyman will appear…a blood-stained killer with a hook for a hand.

So goes the urban legend of Candyman – made into a nerve-shredding horror film back in 1992, with a sequel out this week.

The original told the tale of the spirit of a black man lynched in the 19th century for having an affair with a white woman, who begins terrorising a female student researching the legend.

This new version – written by Get Out’s Jordan Peele – sees Tony Todd reprising the killer role.

One of the original’s most famous scenes involves the murderous spirit bursting through the heroine’s medicine cabinet – but did you know it was rooted in reality, as are many famous and terrifying urban myths?

Daily Star has taken a look at the urban legends that turned out to be true.


The film was inspired by a short story – The Forbidden – which saw people attacked after saying the Candyman’s name five times into a mirror. But it also has roots in a real-life murder case.

In 1987, a Chicago woman named Ruthie McCoy was murdered by attackers who clambered in through her bathroom cabinet.

The 52-year-old lived in an apartment block and it turned out behind each flat was secret pipes and passageways to make it easy for repairs – but also for break-ins – and intruders had used those to come in and shoot her dead.

Witnesses claimed they saw two men, Ted Turner, then aged 18, and John Honduras, 21, carrying her TV and rocking chair around the building after her death.

They were charged with a string of offfences including murder and armed robbery but the charges were later dropped due to a lack of evidence.

The body hiding under the bed

Viewers of Luther will still tremble at the first episode of 2013 series which saw a masked killer lying in wait for his victim in the space beneath her bed – Idris Elba even apologised for it.

But a famous urban legend – which really happened tells of a couple unknowingly spending the night above a dead body stuffed under their bed.

In 2010, it emerged James and Rhonda Sargent had been sleeping above the body of Sony Millbrook at the Budget Lodge hotel in Memphis, Tennessee.

The mother of five was discovered in a box beneath the king-size mattress after the Sargents had complained to staff of the foul smell in their room.

It’s believed she had been there for several weeks while guests slept above her. In 2014, LaKeith Moody, the father of four of her children, was convicted of her murder.

The legend of Polybius

There have long been tales in the vintage video gaming community about a 1981 coin-operated arcade game that had strange effects on its players.

The game – Polybius, – was said to have prompted feelings of disorientation, amnesia, game addiction, and self-harm.

As the legend goes, it was part of a US government-run psychology experiment and suited men would turn up to collect information from the machine.

And individual elements of this legend are actually based in fact. In 1981, a 12-year-old named Brian Mauro had become ill during a 28-hour marathon video game contest in Portland, Oregon as a result of drinking too much fizzy pop. Just a few days later, arcades in the area were raided by federal agents, who seized cabinets that were being used for gambling.

Add in a real arcade game named Poly-Play, and together they make the Polybius legend.

The Bunny Man

This story tells of an escaped mental patient who gutted rabbits and hung them from a bridge in Virginia, US, during the 1970s, before graduating to doing the same to teens.

This story likely spawned from the very real presence of a strange man in the area. In October 1970, a couple reported seeing a man dressed in a white suit and wearing bunny ears who began yelling at them that they were on private property.

He threw a hatchet at their windscreen and shattered it.

There was a second sighting of Bunny Man two weeks later, when a security guard spotted a hatchet-wielding man chipping away at a porch railing. Police tried, unsuccessfully, to locate the man.

Le Loyon

In Switzerland’s answer to the Loch Ness Monster, for years there were sightings of a mysterious soldier-type figure in the country’s Maules Forest who wandered around in a gas mask and camouflage outfit, taking the same route every day for 15 years.

He was dubbed “Le Loyon” and dismissed as a ghost story, until 2013 when someone photographed him in the flesh.

Theories about his identity grew – was he a hermit, a survivalist obsessed with the apocalypse, someone suffering a nasty medical condition?

Then later that year a boiler suit and a long rambling note titled “The death certificate and will of the Ghost De Maules” were found in the forest.

It said the recent exposure would lead to further attention, which forced the person under the clothes to abandon the walks, which the letter referred to as “happiness therapy” Le Loyon was never seen again.

Charlie No-Face

This urban legend came out of Pennsylvania, US, about a man with a misshapen face who approaches people late at night.

Was he a ghost, a bogeyman, a factory worker who fell into a vat of acid, someone who’d been hit by lightning?

He was actually a real man, Ray Robinson who was born in 1910 and disfigured as the result of an electrical accident touching live wires aged eight.

Knowing his appearance could be frightening, he took to going for strolls after dark. While he wanted not to scare people, encountering him unexpectedly in the middle of the night had the opposite effect. He died in 1985.

Candyman is out on Friday

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