Ranking the 23 spookiest ghosts, cryptids and urban legends in North America

With Halloween only 233 days (and counting!) away, it’s about time we start thinking spooky thoughts. But it’s always so hard to know where to start, isn’t it? Not to worry, boys and ghouls, because here lies but a small number of boogeymen–from the lesser-knowns to the famous to the infamous.

The rank of each creature is based on three major criteria -: creepiness, awesomeness, and sexiness. If a creature scores highly in one category but fails the other two, it’ll rank low overall. Creatures that score highly in all three categories are, obviously, the best.

Keep in mind that this list isn’t in any particular order and is by no means exhaustive; if we ranked every single spook in the world, we’d have to go on forever. Readers may disagree if they must, but these scores are obviously based very heavily in facts and statistics and whatnot.

With all that out of the way, here are 23 of the spookiest myths, ghosts and legends of North America, ranked:

(Creepiness: 0/5  Awesomeness: 3/5  Sexiness: 1/5)

For those of you not familiar with the concept of cryptids, allow this to be a cute foray into the subject. Cryptids are, essentially, mythical creatures. They’re alive, not of supernatural origins, and for whatever reason, it’s notoriously hard to prove their existence.

“Chessie” is the Chesapeake Bay Monster, native to Maryland and northern Virginia by way of the Chesapeake Bay. She’s more of a joke than a true cryptid, a sort of tongue-in-cheek response to the Loch Ness Monster. Some people may know about her, but I’m pretty sure nobody actually believes she’s real.

(Creepiness: 3/5  Awesomeness: 3/5  Sexiness: 4/5)

Mermaid sightings are ancient and have been reported all over the world. Older legends include tales of beautiful women with sharp teeth laughing and drowning sailors. More recent stories trend more on the Disney-fied side of things.

Creepiness: 2/5  Awesomeness: 2/5  Sexiness: 4/5)

Like mermaids, vampires have been around for millennia, and the descriptions can vary wildly by region and era. Over time, they’ve gone from horrifying corpses more akin to a modern zombie, to a seductive- fanged nobleman or woman, to Edward Cullen. The scores listed here are averages of all the above.

(Creepiness: 2/5  Awesomeness: 3/5  Sexiness: 3/5)

Ravenous beasts at least one night a month, werewolves are creatures to be feared and given belly rubs.

(Creepiness: 1/5  Awesomeness: 4/5  Sexiness: 2/5)

The debate over this cryptid creature’s likelihood of existence is still ongoing. At least, in specific circles. A monolith who prefers the solitude of the forest over the hustle and bustle of human bipedal life, our friendly neighborhood Sasquatch is more or less the epitome of True Neutral.

(Creepiness: 4/5  Awesomeness: 4/5  Sexiness: 4/5)

Mothman is perhaps one of the best things to come out of West Virginia. Everything about this glorious winged monstrosity is absolutely baller. Love me some Mothman.

(Creepiness: 4/5  Awesomeness: 4/5  Sexiness: 3/5)

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: any state worth visiting ought to have a Goatman legend. Each iteration of this potentially preternatural being is uniquely terrifying.

Jersey Devil
(Creepiness: 4/5  Awesomeness: 3/5  Sexiness: 0/5)

The legend of the Jersey Devil is as old as the U.S.A. and easily twice as creepy. I almost want to experience it, but then again… no, thanks.

Bell Witch
(Creepiness: 5/5 
Awesomeness: 5/5   Sexiness: 5/5)

This is the basis
for the Blair Witch Project, as well as (apparently) the one thing known to truly frighten Andrew Jackson.

La Llorona
(Creepiness: 3/5  Awesomeness: 3/5  Sexiness: 1/5)

With so many versions to this legend, it’s hard to know the true origins. All I can say for certain is that Latino parents continue to use la Llorona as a threat, despite the movie surgically removing all her threatening power.

Abraham Lincoln
(Creepiness: 2/5  Awesomeness: 1/5  Sexiness: 4/5)

The 16th president of the United States is said to haunt the White House, possibly due to his sudden and traumatic death.

(Creepiness: 5/5  Awesomeness: 5/5  Sexiness: 0/5)

Sighted primarily in Arizona (and particularly on Skinwalker Ranch), the vast majority of the stories surrounding these guys aren’t widely known due to the Navajo taboo of talking about them (or telling non-Navajo about them). Based on what I’ve read, though, they absolutely terrify me.

Lavinia Fisher
(Creepiness: 4/5  Awesomeness: 4/5  Sexiness: 5/5)

She’s arguably one of the most famous (and infamous) permanent residents of Charleston, South Carolina’s, Old County Jail. A serial killer and all around wild chick, Lavinia Fisher eventually met her end due to a clever loophole pulled by the executioner and her decision to take matters into her own hands.

(Creepiness: 4/5  Awesomeness: 3/5  Sexiness: 0/5)

Another Native American legend, the Wendigo is mostly from mountainous regions of Canada and the popular video game “Until Dawn.” Any human who resorts to cannibalism to survive in the wild is transformed into a Wendigo, destined to seek human flesh forever.

(Creepiness: 4/5  Awesomeness: 4/5  Sexiness: 1/5)

West Virginia makes this list twice with its Bunnyman legend. Similar to Maryland’s Goatman, he’s a pseudo-cryptid axe murderer. A solid 83% of the creepiness comes solely from the bunny costume.

(Creepiness: 3/5  Awesomeness: 3/5  Sexiness: 2/5)

What initially started as a Photoshop contest online grew into a tale taller than the faceless stalker himself. While I’d hate to take a walk in his neck of the woods, his overexposure in the media has taken the edge off.

Vanishing Hitchhiker
(Creepiness: 3/5  Awesomeness: 1/5  Sexiness: 1/5)

This is something of a cheat on my part—this is more of a genre of spooks rather than a specific spirit. But just about every county, city and state has its own vanishing hitchhiker. For that reason, it needed to be ranked accordingly. 

Bloody Mary
(Creepiness: 4/5  Awesomeness: 2/5  Sexiness: 1/5)

This urban legend—regardless of which origin story you heard—terrified countless elementary school children at sleepovers for years. I still can’t go into a bathroom with the lights off.

Giles Corey
(Creepiness: 2/5  Awesomeness: 4/5  Sexiness: 4/5)

Giles Corey was one of the 20 individuals killed in Salem during the infamous witch trials. Unlike the rest of the accused, Corey was pressed between stones rather than hanged because he refused to stand trial. His last words were, allegedly, “more weight.” Some modern inhabitants of Salem say Corey makes an appearance before something terrible happens.

El Chupacabra
(Creepiness: 1/5  Awesomeness: 2/5  Sexiness: 0/5)

Some sort of skinny feral doglike creature, el Chupacabra is a Central and South American cryptid that’s also been sighted in the southwest United States, mostly looking to kill flocks of sheep. That’s really no better or worse than a mangy coyote, to be honest.

Mercy Brown
(Creepiness: 2/5  Awesomeness: 1/5  Sexiness: 3/5)

After passing away from tuberculosis in January 1892, the 19-year-old Mercy Brown’s body was exhumed a couple months after her burial. Because this was in the middle of the New England Vampire Panic, her nearly pristine body was quite a shock to many. Her heart was removed and burned, and the ashes force-fed to her dying brother. Locals to Exiter, Rhode Island,  say her spirit still roams the cemetery.

Boo Hag
(Creepiness: 3/5  Awesomeness: 3/5  Sexiness: 4/5)

Hag myths are a common trope in many cultures, and this one is no different. Originally part of the Gullah folklore in South Carolina, the Boo Hag sits on a victim’s chest while they sleep and sucks the life force out of them. If you’ve ever woken up feeling more tired than when you went to bed, that’s the work of the Boo Hag.

Charlie No-Face aka the Glowing Green Man
(Creepiness: 1/5 Awesomeness: 5/5  Sexiness: 1/5)

Ray Robinson was 8 in the summer of 1919 when, upon reaching for a bird’s nest on top of a trolley pole, he received about 11,000 volts of electricity. A couple months later, the local newspaper, The Beaver County Times, reported that “only holes are left where his eyes were.” He tended to keep to himself for the most part, walking along the side of the road at night because his face could be shocking to see. The “glowing” part of his moniker likely came from the petroleum jelly that coated his burned skin.

While this would make for quite the eerie sight, it’s all at once sweet and sobering to know that everyone who knew him said he was genuine and kind.

by Rei Malloy



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