(This is going to be a series of v-log/blog/audio posts about urban legends to be posted every Thursdays until the end of November, woohooo!)
The three urban legends I’ll be talking about today are as follows:
Kuchisake Onna // Mothman // Bloody Mary
My first encounter with the Japanese urban legend Kuchisake Onna was around the age of 9 or 10. I had a neighbor with a stack of Japanese manga magazines, most in the horror/sci-fi genre. I would flip them through in both shock and delight. The Kuchisake Onna comic is the one that I still remember, even after over 20 years.
The picture I saw was a black and white drawing of a woman with crazy wide eyes, straggly black hair, a surgical mask hanging off one finger and her mouth split from ear to ear, exposing sharpened, bloody teeth.
It friggin’ traumatized me. No joke. I couldn’t sleep for days and had very little appetite because every time I opened my mouth, I thought about her and her mutilated mouth.
Now, even at that young age, I was no stranger to scary things, or what I thought was scary. I discovered Alvin Schwartz’s “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” with the original drawings and I was reading RL Stine’s Pike Street books regularly.
But that picture…even though it was so long ago, I still remember it with a shiver.
So, the story goes like this: Kuchisake Onna may or may not be a ghost or a ghoul or a monster.
There are two theories as to how she got her monstrous appearence.
#1: Her jealous lover murdered and mutilated her when he learned she was having an affair.
#2: She got too much plastic surgery and died on the operating table.
To be honest, I don’t know what’s more horrifying. I’ve seen some real terrifying plastic surgery “After” photos and some of them are almost as terrifying as the Kuchisake Onna.
Anyways, she is said to approach children, much like the previously mentioned Slenderman. She will be a tall, slim woman with long, black hair, wearing a black trenchcoat with a white surgical mask covering the lower part of her face. Now, someone dressed like this in Western countries would be considered quite suspect, but in Asia, surgical masks are actually quite common, so she would appear very normal.
That is…until she slips off her mask and shows off her mutilated face.
“Am I pretty?” she’ll ask.
If you say “Yes,” she’ll either kill you and split your mouth to look like hers. If you say “No,” she’ll kill you in a murderous rage, like her lover did to her.
How do you escape her wrath?
There are two methods. Method #1 is to say “You’re so-so” and then run away while she mulls over your response. Method #2 is throw candy at her and run away while she’s distracted picking them up. Don’t know why she’d bother with candy, but hey, whatever works, right?
So, the wierd thing about the Kuchisake Onna is that there are reported incidents that THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED. According to the Wiki about the Kuchisake Onna, an incident was reported about a woman in a red mask seen chasing children in Korea and in 2007, a coroner found medical records of a woman from the 1970s who was hit by a car when she was chasing children. Apparently her mouth was cut from ear to ear.
If you’re interested in this particular urban legend, there’s a bunch of movies and books regarding the Kuchisake Onna. With other urban legends, I have no problems Googling images to use in my articles, but I’m not opening an image search bar for the Kuchisake Onna. You can, if you are hardy enough, but I’m not opening that particular can of worms again.
So, back in 2002, a movie called The Mothman Prophecies came out. With Richard Gere, Laura Linney and Debra Messing as Richard Gere’s wife. Purported to be based on a book which was supposedly based on true events, it was the story of a reporter who loses his wife under tragic circumstances. Two years later, he finds himself drawn to a small town in West Virginia called Point Pleasant, in which strange and unusual events have started to come to light.
Since this is an article about the Mothman and not the movie, I’m not going to say anymore about the movie, except for this: If it had been cut by half an hour, it still would’ve been watchable. Not good, but watchable.
At the end of the movie, it is mentioned that Mothman was sighted in many parts of the world but was never seen in Point Pleasant again.
To which, I very politely but firmly say “Bullshit.” Maybe the concept presented as Mothman in the movie (They make the Mothman sound like some kind of alien) is seen elsewhere, but Mothman as folklorists and avid urban legend fans know it, never existed outside of Point Pleasant, if it even existed at all.
The Mothman first appeared in Point Pleasant in the late 1960s, as people started to call into the police about seeing a mysterious figure around 7-8 feet tall with red eyes. People reported being chased in their cars, having this strange thing fly over their heads, or just being stared at from the woods. Super creepy shit, if you ask me.
All these sightings were reported within days of each other and rumors ran rampant about the true origins of the Mothman. Some people theorized that it could be a large barred owl or a crane.
Then, there was the Silver Bridge (in Point Pleasant) collapse that claimed the lives of 46 people, which some claimed was the work of the Mothman. Later, it was proven that the bridge collapse was NOT supernatural, but wholly mechanical. Soon after, the rumors surrounding the Mothman and sightings of the hard-to-photograph creature died down.
In 1975, John A. Keel, a well-known UFOologist, wrote his book “Visitors from Space: The Astonishing True Story of the Mothman Prophecies” and posited a theory that the Mothman sighted in Point Pleasant was connected to various UFO sightings, Men in Black, and conspiracies galore. I tried to read the book, but found it kind of…not to my taste. While I find the Mothman fascinating as a kind of cryptid, I’m afraid I don’t find it half as interesting as an alien.
After the Mothman Prophecies came out, the town of Point Pleasant held its first Mothman Festival and opened a museum in 2005.
Most recently, there was a brief flare-up of Mothman news in November 2016 when a man claimed to have taken a photograph of the creature.
Currently, it’s “unverified” on Snopes. I’ll leave you to come up with your own conclusion 🙂
Bloody Mary. Ooohhh…boy. Bloody Mary. The quintessential urban legend. Who here hasn’t called (or tried to) call up this particularly gruesome spirit at midnight in a bathroom mirror?
At least, that’s the version I’m familiar with. Basically, you turn off the bathroom lights, flush the toilet three times, turn on/off the faucet three times, and then you look in
the mirror and call her name three times.
As a child, I’ve done this countless times. I am not ashamed to admit that I’ve never made it past the first step, which is flushing the toilet three times. The farthest I’ve ever made it was flushing the toilet twice and then sprinting out of the bathroom like the Hounds of Tindalus was behind me.
So what is the origin story of Bloody Mary?
There are way too many to get into here, but the one I’ve heard is that Bloody Mary was known in the human world as Mary Worth. She was killed in a car accident in front of a mirror shop and since then, chooses to spend eternity flitting from mirror to mirror. She rips out people’s eyes with her sharp nails because she’s jealous they are alive and she is not.
Some say the Bloody Mary is a reference to Elizabeth Bathory, a Hungarian countess who supposedly bathed in the blood of her young maids, thinking it would grant her immortality. (it didn’t, I believe she was executed)
Unlike other urban legends, there aren’t a whole lot of eyewitnesses accounts of having encountered this particular being, unlike the Kuchisake Onna or Mothman.
But that doesn’t stop the Bloody Mary legend from proliferating modern culture as her influence can be seen in a multitude of media. There’s an episode of Supernatural dedicated strictly to her, as well as a few movies with her as the antagonist.
So, here’s my question for you. If you’ve ever called Bloody Mary, or tried to, please comment below. I’d love to hear your method for summoning her!