Urban Legends: A Collection of International Tall Tales and Terrors


Don't get in that car without looking in the back seat! Everyone has heard the story about such-and-such, and while it sounds impossible, so-and-so swears that it must be true. Often gory, disgusting, shocking, and surprising, urban legends are central to everyday experience. From high schools and colleges to offices and organizations, urban legends are everywhere. This book collects more than 150 urban legends from around the world, such as The Mutilated Shopper, The Devil at the Disco, and The Thug in the Back ...

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Don't get in that car without looking in the back seat! Everyone has heard the story about such-and-such, and while it sounds impossible, so-and-so swears that it must be true. Often gory, disgusting, shocking, and surprising, urban legends are central to everyday experience. From high schools and colleges to offices and organizations, urban legends are everywhere. This book collects more than 150 urban legends from around the world, such as The Mutilated Shopper, The Devil at the Disco, and The Thug in the Back Seat. The tales are grouped in thematic chapters, and each entry includes an introductory discussion of the legend and its presence in popular culture, the text of the legend, suggestions for further reading, and cross-references to similar tales. The volume closes with a selected, general bibliography and a detailed index. Literature students will welcome the opportunity to read and write about these legends, social studies students will value them as a reflection of contemporary culture, and general readers will enjoy browsing them and learning more about their background and significance.

Don't pick up that hitchhiker! Don't get in that car without looking in the back seat! If you knew what they put in that, no way would you eat it! Urban legends are central to everyday experience. Everyone has heard the story about such-and-such, and while it sounds impossible, so-and-so swears that it must be true. These legends are everywhere, from high schools and colleges to offices and organizations. They appear in films, television series, and novels, and are now widely spread over the Internet. This book collects and annotates more than 150 urban legends from around the world and is a valuable resource for students, general readers, and anyone interested in contemporary culture.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Studying urban legends may encourage students to think critically about information found in questionable resources such as the Web. Chapters include City Life beginning with the standard, Alligators in the Sewers, Horror, Accidents, Fate, and Chance, The Body and Diseases, Animals, Sex and Nudity, Merchandise, Murder, Death, and Burial and The Supernatural. Chapters have brief introductions and each legend is discussed with an example and suggestions for further reading. Appendixes include A Provisional List of Urban Legends in Film and Literature, further reading and online resources, the Urban Legend Title Index and three indexes, Urban Legends on Film, in Literature and a subject index. This provides excellent examples of carefully researched and reported information about tall tales."


GALE Reference for Students

"This collection describes urban legends in nine themed chapters: city life; horror; accidents, fate, and chance; the body and disease; animals; sex and nudity; merchandise; murder, death, and burial; and the supernatural. The authors compiled stories from friends and colleagues, newspapers and magazines, folklore books and journals, compilations, and correspondence. Interpretation of the legends or explanations for their popularity is avoided, as is discussion of whether they are true. Instead, background on the story and examples of them are given. Criteria for urban legends include presence of a narrative structure, outrageous content in an everyday setting, anonymous origins, and multiple examples. The four indexes are organized by title, examples in film and literature, and subject."


Reference & Research Book News

"This entertaining guide is suitable for a wide range of audiences and amply demonstrates for the students that academic scholarship can be quite fun."


Lawrence Looks at Books

"Bennett and Smith's Urban Legends is a worthy follow-up to their earlier compilations and deserves a place in any reference collection on the subject….The on-line resources listed are crucial in this electronic age and go well beyond the standard (and invaluable) sources such as Snopes.com or About.com's urban legends Web site."


Journal of American Folklore

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313339523
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/28/2007
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

GILLIAN BENNETT is an independent scholar and the author of numerous works on ghost stories and urban legends. She has edited several works with Paul Smith and is also the author of "Alas, Poor Ghost!": Traditions of Belief in Story and Discourse (1999), and Bodies: Sex, Violence, Disease, and Death in Contemporary Legend (2005).

PAUL SMITH is Professor of Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland. His work encompasses contemporary legend, traditional drama, and folklore and popular literature. With Gillian Bennett, he has edited numerous works, including Contemporary Legend: A Folklore Bibliography (1993), and Contemporary Legend: A Reader (1996).

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     xiii
Introduction     xv
City Life     1
Alligators in the Sewers     2
Backward Buildings and Other Architectural Errors     4
The Chandelier     5
The Colander Lie Detector     7
The Disappearing Room     8
The Double Theft     10
The Dying Child's Wish     11
The False Confession     13
Floored     15
The Grateful Terrorist     16
The Mall Abductor     18
Mall Slashers     20
The Man in the Middle     22
The March of the Sewer Rats     24
The Mutilated Shopper     25
The Nativity Play     26
Radar Traps and Speed Cameras     27
Roaming Gnomes     28
The Severed Fingers     30
Sit!     32
Smiley Gangs     34
The Theatre Tickets     35
Unexpected Returns     37
Urban Jungle Beasties     38
White Slavers     41
Horror     45
"Aren't You Glad You Didn't Switch on the Light?"     45
The Assailant in the Back Seat     47
The Baby Roast     49
The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs     50
The Batman Rape     53
The Boyfriend's Death     54
The Cadaver Arm     56
The Castrated Boy     58
The Doggie-Lick     59
The Hairy-Handed Hitchhiker     62
The Hook     65
Lights Out!     66
Little Alf's Stamp Collection     68
The Roommate's Death     70
Accidents, Fate, and Chance     73
Accidents Galore     74
The Double Whammy     75
The Dough Bullet     77
The Exploding Toilet     78
The Five-Pound Note/The Unintentional Thief     81
Glued to the Loo     83
The Kilkenny Widow     85
Killer Cacti, Statues, and Stones     87
Killer Suicides     88
The Mole Hill and the Jaguar     90
Not My Teeth     90
The Ski Run     92
The Solid Cement Cadillac     93
The Stolen Specimen     94
The Teeth in the Cod     96
Thieves Get Their Just Deserts     98
The Will     100
The Body and Disease      103
Introduction     103
Kissing, Biting, and Spirting     106
Mirrors     108
Caskets     110
Needles     112
The Bosom Serpent     115
Earwigs in Ears and Ants in Eyes     117
The Girl with the Beehive Hairdo     119
(Im)Planted     122
The Spider Boil     123
Introduction     125
The Black Volga     127
Baby Parts     128
Eye Thefts     131
Kidney Thefts     133
The Tapeworm Diet     135
Animals     137
The Battered Budgie     138
Bunny Bounces Back     139
The Cat and the Salmon     140
Carried Off     142
The Cat in the Package     143
Cats Out of their Skin     145
The Choking Doberman     147
The Elephant That Sat on a Car     143
The Loaded Dog     150
The Mexican Pet     152
The Microwaved Pet     154
Parrot Talk     157
The Penguin Story     158
Serving the Dog     160
Sex and Nudity     163
All Zipped Up     163
Batman Frolics     155
The Cybersex Surprise     167
Dear John's Revenge     169
Ding, Dong, Dinner Bell     171
Framed     173
Gyno Glitter     174
The Hair-Curler Revenge     176
The Hairdresser's Surprise     177
The Halloween Party     178
Left at the Roadside     180
Lovers Dial M (For Maximum Embarrassment)     182
The Note     184
The Nude Bachelor     186
The Nude Housewife     187
"Out of the Mouths of Babes..."     189
The Phone Bill Revenge     191
Stuck on You     192
The Superglue Revenge     194
The Blushing Bride     196
The Fart in the Dark     197
Not His Lucky Night     199
The Peanut Butter Surprise     200
The Tagged Lady     202
Merchandise     205
Cobras at K-Mart/Rattlers at Wal-Mart     205
Corporate Conspiracies     207
The Death Car     209
Drugged Children: LSD Tattoos, Mickey Mouse-Acid, Blue Star Acid, etc.     211
Fingers in Take-Out Meals and Other Tales of Contaminated Food     214
Genius     216
Kentucky Fried Rat     217
The Mouse in the Coca-Cola Bottle     219
New Lamps for Old: Redemption Rumors     220
The Pearls     223
The Philanderer's Porsche     224
The Poisoned Dress     226
The Smuggler     227
The Snake in the Garment     230
Snakes in Bananas     232
Spiders at Large     233
The Suppressed Product     235
Murder, Death, and Burial     239
The Architect's Blunder     239
The Blood Libel Legend     243
The Body in the Bed     246
The Cadaver Relative     247
The Corpse in the Cask     248
Dead Again     250
Death from Fear     251
The "Death" of Paul McCartney     254
The Failed Suicide     255
The Fatal Cleaning Lady     257
Grandma's Ashes     258
The Halloween Sadist     259
Killer Clowns     262
The Murdered Son     264
The Seemingly Dead Revive     266
The Stolen Corpse     269
They Are Not Dead      271
Urban Cannibals and Human Sausage Factories     275
The Supernatural     279
The Devil at the Disco     279
The Ghost in Search of Help for a Dying Man     283
"Mary Whales I Believe in You"     285
Introduction     287
Home-Going Ghosts     289
The Party-Going Ghost     291
The Coat on the Grave     294
Jesus on the Thru'way     296
Hitchhiking Prophets, Saints, and Aliens     297
The Double Prophecy     300
A Provisional List of Urban Legends in Film and Literature     303
Further Reading and Online Resources     323
Urban Legend Title Index     333
Index to Urban Legends on Film     339
Index to Urban Legends in Literature     341
Subject Index     345
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