Even if you don’t believe in the supernatural, there’s something strangely entertaining about a spooky ghost story or ancient mythological being. From the Chupacabra to the Loch Ness Monster, some myths have become incredibly notorious, but what about the lesser known but equally terrifying myths?
In this list, you’ll learn about ten scary ghosts and monstrous myths from various countries that aren’t usually the best choice for scary storytelling. Make sure you have the lights on for this one!
Related: 10 myths of ‘little people’ from around the world
10 The Woodcutter’s Ghost—Canada
In the late 19th century, an Irish cook named Ryan traveled to New Brunswick, Canada, to work as a cook at a logging camp near the Dungarvon River. One of his duties was to wake everyone else up for breakfast, which he did with a series of loud whoops and yells.
Unfortunately, the head of the camp was a hot-tempered man who demanded that Ryan hand over his life savings to help finance the camp. Ryan refused, so the chief sent the rest of the men on a hunting trip early one morning while he stayed with Ryan.
The men returned to find Ryan dead and without his money. Pretending that Ryan had died suddenly of illness, the chief ordered the men to bury the body in a shallow grave in the woods. Soon, Ryan began stalking the camp with loud whoops and screeches.
Terrified, the men bolted from the camp, including the chief, and never returned. For decades, people claimed they could hear Ryan’s screams echoing through the woods near the Dungarvon River.
9 The Strzyga—Poland
A terrifying Slavic mythological beast, the Strzyga has two souls, two sets of teeth, and two hearts. Legend has it that these creatures start out looking quite human, but are driven from their homes for being evil. When they die in isolation, one of their souls moves on to the next life, while the other stays behind and turns demonic.
The demon must then feed on living things to survive. Although animal blood is fine at first, they soon realize they need something else: human blood!
According to legend, they often attack people who have wronged them in their “former” life, draining their blood before feasting on their entrails. It is believed that there are many ways to prevent a Strzyga from turning demonic after dying; the main method is to decapitate and burn the corpse.
However, this Slavic myth has crazier ways of eliminating demons, such as slapping the corpse with the left hand, leaving small objects in Strzyga’s grave for him to count, and burying the body face down and cutting the tendons in its legs.
So if you know someone with two hearts, be nice to them, or arm yourself with a sharp ax and a box of matches!
8 Lady Koi Koi—Nigeria
In the mid-20th century, a beautiful new teacher has arrived at a boarding school in Nigeria. The children nicknamed her Lady (or Madam) Koi Koi, named for the strange “koi koi koi” sound her red heels made when she walked. Unfortunately, she was mean to her students and hit them frequently, apparently enjoying it.
The children reported Lady Koi Koi to the principal, but he did not believe them, even after he hit a student so badly that they had to go to the hospital. Eventually, the students decided to take matters into their own hands and attacked Lady Koi Koi one night.
They gagged her, threw a sack over her body and beat her until she stopped moving. They then dumped her body in front of the school gates in the hope of framing a thief.
Soon, each of the students involved in the murder of Lady Koi Koi disappeared one by one, and eventually the boarding school closed. The Lady Koi Koi story spread to other schools, and it wasn’t long before students began hearing that dreaded “koi koi koi” sound.
Legend has it that she frequents the halls of the school looking for any child to torture and beat, as she did when she was alive.
7 The Tar River Banshee—North Carolina, USA
During the American Revolutionary War, British colonists who did not pledge their allegiance to the crown would have their property seized, or worse, if found by British forces or Redcoats. Legend has it that one of these rebels was Dave Warner, who owned a flour mill along the Tar River and supplied flour to the colony’s militia.
He was warned to stay away from the Tar River on a full moon, as the spirit of death, called a banshee, would seek new victims.
The following year, five redcoats came to Dave’s flour mill and beat him up. They dragged him to the river, tied him to a large rock, and threw him into the water. At that moment, they heard an eerie wail as the mist descended on the river. The redcoats ran to Dave’s mill and locked themselves in.
The banshee then appeared and sent the men into a trance-like state, causing them to walk towards the river. One by one, they walked into the flowing black river and perished as the banshee’s cries echoed across the water.
Legend has it that the river Tar is still haunted by the banshee, and if you hear her moan, you will be her next victim!
6 The Headless Nun—Canada
After Father Le Loutre’s War in 1749, a French nun named Sister Marie went to New Brunswick, Canada, to help colonists who had escaped from the British.
Shortly after Sister Marie arrived in the settlers’ community, the British learned that they had evaded capture and were searching for them. As a trusted member of the community, the settlers gave their valuables to Sister Marie in case they were captured, so she buried them in a safe place to prevent them from being stolen.
A few days later, Sister Marie was walking through a forest when she was attacked by a group of men. They demanded that she reveal the location of the buried valuables, but when she refused, they cut off her head!
Shortly after Sister Marie’s body was shipped back to France, missing a head, there were sightings of someone walking the path she walked every night. One day, a man was walking down the path and noticed a nun coming out of the woods, but he screamed in terror as she approached: she had no head!
Legend has it that she can be seen wandering in the middle of the night with a full moon, searching for her lost head.
5 The Kludde—Belgium
They say a dog is man’s best friend, but the Kludde is one canine you don’t want by your side! In Dutch folklore, the Kludde is a shapeshifter that often takes the form of a huge dog, but sometimes appears as a small bush or tree that grows bigger and bigger before your eyes.
Legend has it that the Kludde lurks on the deserted roads of Belgium, looking for unsuspecting travelers at night. The only thing that can be heard before the beast launches its attack is the sound of the chains. Once the Kludde has found its victim, it is said to leap onto the victim’s back, forcing them to the ground where the creature’s sharp claws and teeth tear them apart.
Therefore, if you are hiking in the Dutch countryside, it is best to stay off the roads at night. But, if you have no other choice and you hear the sound of rattling chains, run for your life!
4 The Legend of the Inupasugjuk—The Arctic
A creature of Inuit mythology, the Inupasugjuk are giants who live in the north. Not much is known about them, but according to legend, the giant females are more common than the much larger males. Perhaps they are more aggressive and no one has lived to tell their story.
The Inupasugjuk think humans are fun and will pick them up and use them as toys. The females can snatch people up, throw them into their big parkas, and carry them off. One thing is for sure, if you see an Inupasugjuk, hide!
3 Dearg Due—Ireland
At a time when arranged marriages were common in Ireland, there was a young woman who fell in love with a peasant from her village. But her evil father decided to “sell” her to a rich but cruel man, the local chief.
After the forced marriage, she suffered under his cruel ways, being locked up for weeks and used as a trophy. She became very depressed, stopped eating, and eventually passed away.
Her husband soon remarried, and her father was too elated with his new fortune to worry about his deceased daughter. The woman’s spirit was so enraged that he was thrown out of her grave, thirsting for revenge.
She killed her father and her wicked husband, draining the chieftain’s blood. The Dearg-Due, as it came to be known, developed an insatiable taste for human blood. She began to lure men to dark, hidden places, where she would attack them and take their blood.
But legend says that he then disappeared. What happened? Is he still on the prowl, looking for new victims? Some say her grave is in Waterford, Ireland, in the Strongbow Tree. A word of warning though – don’t go it alone!
2 The Goatman Bridge Demon: Texas, USA
There’s something spooky about creaky old bridges, but the Old Alton Bridge in Dallas, Texas exudes a special kind of creepiness. According to local legend, under the Old Alton Bridge is the home of a demonic creature known as “The Goatman”.
Witnesses say the menacing creature is a terrifying sight, standing eight feet tall, with the head, legs and hooves of a goat and the arms and chest of a man. He also sports huge horns and evil eyes that glow. According to legend, if someone crossing the bridge utters the name of Goatman, the monstrous creature will be summoned.
Although it is said that he sleeps under the bridge during the day, the Goatman comes out at night to forage for food. But, if he calls his name during the day, he becomes even more aggressive, probably upset at being woken up! The bridge is also believed to be a gateway to hell, and some people have reported seeing horrifying visions of brimstone and fire while crossing the bridge at exactly 3am.
If you’re a paranormal enthusiast, Goatman’s Bridge is well worth a visit. Just don’t go at 3 am and don’t say his name!
1 The Phelps Haunted Mansion—Connecticut, USA
In 1848, Congregational minister Eliakim Phelps purchased a mansion on Elm Street in Stratford, Connecticut, which would become the basis for the famous “Stratford Knockings.”
Two years after buying the house, Phelps and his family noticed strange things in their house. One day, Phelps and his family came home to find that black funeral crepe had been hung on the door and over their mirrors, traditionally a sign that there had been a recent death.
They also found one of Mrs. Phelps’s nightgowns spread out on her bed with her arms crossed over the trunk as if it were being worn by someone lying in a coffin. If that wasn’t creepy enough, the family also came home to find that their drawers had been opened, clothes thrown out and various belongings scattered, but no valuables had been stolen.
Other creepy things started happening too, like items falling off shelves and windows breaking. Newspapers eventually got wind of the Stratford Knockings and reports were published about it. Paranormal enthusiasts also began stopping by the Phelps mansion, hoping to catch a glimpse of these strange occurrences.
Unfortunately, to this day, the apparitions remain a mystery, and the house itself was demolished.
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