Horror movie story ideas can come from many different places. Fiction is very popular source of material, with such a rich and long history of novels and stories for screenwriters to tap into. Sequels and reboots obviously play a big part too–this is a genre that has always rewarded repetition, and many of the longest-running franchises ever are scary movies. And of course, there are plenty of original movies too–even the biggest horror franchise started with a single movie, and many of the best are terrifying narratives conjured up by imaginative writers.
Urban legends are another popular source of horror storytelling. These exist in the grey area between fact and fiction–popular myths that are handed down and retold over generations, stories that have been rarely experienced first-hand, but could just be true. Over the years some of the best known urban legends–from Bloody Mary to the killer calling from within the house–have inspired horror filmmakers and created some memorably scary cinema.
Some of these films use an urban legend without acknowledging that they are a common myth, treating them simply as a brilliantly scary idea. Then there are those that are more overt, and play on an audience’s awareness of common legends, whether its characters researching them, or perhaps using them as a basis for some terrible crimes. Other times, multiple urban legends are combined to create a new mythology. Regardless of how they’re used, urban legends remain a consistent and potent source for horror movies, and here are some of scariest examples ever made.