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10 Mysterious Urban Legends Based on Video Footage

by Bryan Johnson
fact checked by Jamie Frater

An urban legend is a term used to describe a tale that has been passed down over the years. It is usually presented as a true story and evolves over time. Urban legends follow modern trends and represent current anomalies, such as alien encounters, unexplained animals, botched medical producers, theft, murder, weird pictures, and bizarre videos. Urban legends usually present a cautionary tale and have a specific plot. They provide supporting material and will attempt to make the reader debate the legitimacy of the material. This article is going to examine ten urban legends that are based on video footage. Some of the entries include real clips, while others focus on videos that can’t be found online, but are said to have been created.


The Grifter

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 At 1.12.04 PmThe Grifter is an urban legend that began to circulate on the Internet in 2009. The video is said to show horrifying images of people being tortured and killed. Viewers of the movie can experience nausea, trauma, night terrors, clinical depression, and even commit suicide. The content shows the human sacrifice of small babies and images of satanic ritual abuse. In some cases, people have attempted to make a copy of the film, but have failed.

It has been said that the video was recorded in the 1930s and portrays a collection of strange pictures and sounds. In one part of the movie, the words “Your race is the one that is dying” appears while a picture of a plant rotting is seen. The footage displays close up shots of corpses and people who have been possessed by demons. It has been described as the most disturbing video available on the Internet. However, many feel the tape is a hoax and nothing more than an urban legend. The story of The Grifter has spawned an Internet meme in which threads that discuss hoax videos are considered to be trolling for information on bizarre clips.

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Garden City Ghost Car
Ghost Car Disappears During Police Chase

A few years back a video surfaced on the Internet of a police chase in Garden City, Georgia that has been dubbed the ghost car. In the video, officers can be seen attempting to pull over a white vehicle that is driving erratically. After following the car for a while, the driver swerves and makes a u-turn. The car moves off the highway, hits a dirt road, and comes to a dead end. It then moves to the left and disappears behind a chain-link fence.

The driver was never captured and it was revealed that the area beyond the fence was wooded with no roads. After examining the footage, many people have commented that the car traveled under the fence. However, this doesn’t explain what happened to the driver and why the police ended the pursuit. After the area was searched, the officers recovered the video and were shocked. The clip was featured on the television show Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files, in which a stunt driver recreated the footage by driving through a chain-link fence that was weakened at the base. The stunt showed that a car is capable of traveling through a fence without knocking it over. However, it wasn’t filmed on location. To date, the original Garden City surveillance video continues to baffle watchers.


Red Mist

Redmistsquidward 101981

SpongeBob SquarePants is a television show that is extremely popular around the world and has earned more than $8 billion in merchandising revenue for Nickelodeon. The cartoon features a wide variety of characters that live in the underwater city of Bikini Bottom. One of these characters is named Squidward Tentacles. The show is made for kids, but in 2004 an urban legend emerged surrounding a lost episode of the show that is said to display Squidward’s Suicide.

As the story goes, a disgruntled Scottish animator named Andrew Skinner developed an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants in 2004 named Red Mist. He tried to pass the episode off as the official season 4 premiere and sent it to Hollywood for approval. In California, animators watched the tape and discovered a dark secret. The video starts with the picture of a salesman at Squidward’s house. He knocks on the door and says: “the red mist is coming,” in which Squidward is confused. The tape flashes to a picture of Squidward playing the clarinet in front of a large crowd and Spongebob can be seen violently booing the performance.

The body language of Squidward is depressed. He returns to his house and sits in a chair with a blank look on his face. The audio turns scratchy and trees can be heard in the background. Squidward starts to cry and the tape begins to flash. At this point a series of real pictures come to view. The images show the body of a dead boy with his face mangled and entrails exposed. The shadow of the photographer is visible and the tape shows pictures of a deceased girl. The song Amazing Grace is played and the video goes into a sequence of frames in which the boy is mutilated. The words “Do it” can be heard, while Squidward pulls out a shotgun and commits suicide.

The story suggests the tape was made by Andrew Skinner of Fife, Scotland and delivered to the animators at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, California in November of 2004. The event was so horrifying that three of the animators were hospitalized, including Barry O’Neill, Grant Kirkland, Jr. and Alyssa Simpson. One editor named Fernando de la Peña retired and an intern named Jackie McMullen committed suicide. It was reported that the tape was later tracked to Andrew Skinner who was arrested for nine counts of murder, including the two children seen in the video.

After viewing the tape, a copy of the footage was made by an intern at Paramount Studios and released to the Internet. However, it was quickly removed by police and only a screenshot of Squidward’s red eyes remains. Research on the story doesn’t bring many results. Except for one article from 2002 that briefly mentions a man from Fife, Scotland named Andrew Skinner that was arrested for attempted murder.


Chaplin Time Travel Video
Charlie Chaplin’s time traveler

The Circus is a silent film that was written and directed by Charlie Chaplin. The film was a box office success and raised $3.8 million in 1928. In 2004, a copy of the movie was released to DVD with bonus footage. The footage shows pictures of the public attending the film, including a premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. After looking over the material, an Irish filmmaker named George Clarke noticed something out of the ordinary in a clip of the public entering the premiere.

The footage shows a woman dressed in a heavy coat and hat holding what looks like a black object to her head. As she walks, it appears the woman is talking on a cell phone, which would be impossible in 1928. Toward the end of the footage, the woman can be seen stopping and chatting in a fashion similar to modern day cell phone users. She is wearing large shoes and has big hands.

After zooming in on the video, it is clear the woman is holding a black object to her head, which caused Clarke to post a video on YouTube questioning whether she might be a time traveler sent back in time to watch Chaplin’s performance. In response, the story made headlines all over the world. It has since been discovered that the woman could be using a pocket sized carbon microphone named the Siemens 1924 hearing aid. Others feel she is holding an ear trumpet. However, the explanation hasn’t addressed why she is talking.



Marilyn Manson – The Beautiful People

Marilyn Manson (Brian Warner) is a controversial rock star that has sold over 50 million albums worldwide. He gained mainstream attention in the 1990s after media reports surfaced that described his shocking behavior on and off-stage. Over the years, Manson has been the target of multiple attacks by the press who view his music as detrimental to children. Manson has produced some of the most disturbing videos on the Internet. In 2011, he collaborated with actor Shia LaBeouf to make a movie named Born Villain, which is said to contain shocking and violent images.

However, the most controversial video attributed to Marilyn Manson is named Groupie. The legend of the tape says that it was recorded by the band during their Antichrist Superstar Tour (1996-1998) and shows a fan being tortured by Marilyn and Twiggy (Jeordie White). According to the story, the footage was captured on a handheld camcorder and shows Manson ordering the groupie to perform acts. The film starts out with Marilyn informing his guests that the girl will be taped. When she arrives, the party takes a weird turn.

After a short while, the girl is ordered to do a series of acts, including drinking a glass of urine with keyboard player Stephen Bier. The tape then turns dark while Manson ties the woman up and taunts her. As the video progresses, the members of the party become uneasy as they are unclear if the events are staged or not. The video involves torture, weapons and bloodshed.

Officially, there are only three people who have viewed Groupie, which includes Manson, Tony Ciulla, and Andy Dick. However, evidence for the film can be found at the end of the bands Dead to the World video series where an obscured shot of a tied up woman can be viewed. During the scene, Marilyn is heard taunting the girl with the phrase “Jesus loves me because the Bible says so.” The footage might have come from Groupie.


Cuero, Texas Chupacabra
Chupacabra on Cops Camera (closer view)

The Chupacabra (goat sucker) is a cryptid that has been identified in certain parts of the Americas. The creature is known for killing livestock and drinking the animal’s blood. The Chupacabra has a wide range of physical characteristics with some having identified them as being a lizard-type creature with long spines, while others say they are smaller animals that look like a bald coyote with sharp fangs, or a type of coyote, wolf, and dog hybrid.

Despite the discrepancy in the creature’s appearance, the Chupacabra is known to kill by inflicting a series of three small puncture wounds to the chest and neck of the victim. The puncture wounds resemble an upside-down triangle and the animal is then drained of blood and killed. The urban legend says the creature will strike its prey with stealth. The death is usually reported because of the bizarre circumstances. Currently, there are no large animals that practice hematophagy or the act of drinking blood for food.

A large number of Chupacabra sightings have been made in Mexico and Texas. In most cases, a coyote-type creature has been blamed for killing livestock. One such example was the Elmendorf Beast, which is a hairless animal that was killed in 2004 and thought to be a wolf-coyote cross. One of the features of the creature was a long snout, which has come to characterize the beast. On August 8, 2008, a police offer in DeWitt County, Texas named Brandon Riedel filmed a strange animal from his dash cam. In the video the creature can be seen running away from the car, and looks like a hairless coyote-type creature with a long snout and big ears. The snout of the creature has baffled many experts.

The footage was featured on the television show Fact or Fiction where experts attempted to recreate the tape with a miniature horse. As you would expect, the horse looked nothing like the creature in the video and the footage has helped grow the legend of the Chupacabra. Many have suggested the animal could be an unknown coyote or a government experiment gone horribly wrong. The legend was potentially developed around the real events of cattle mutilation.


Cervine Birth


The legend surrounding the Cervine Birth footage started in 2009 with the posting of a bizarre video. The story says the clip was put on YouTube by an unidentified amateur artist studying in the UK. After a short time online, the movie was removed because of the disturbing content. The video starts with the scene of a foggy meadow and zooms in on a sick looking albino deer lying on the ground. After the camera focuses on the deer’s eye, it pans away to a vanity mirror and shows the animals reflection flopping in an unnatural manner.

At this point a dark fluid is excreted from the horse’s tail, which indicates it might be giving birth. After several minutes, a stillborn humanoid infant is dropped from the horse’s body. The creature is covered with a dark tar-like substance, so it is difficult to identify. It has been claimed the artist put together a model of a human-animal hybrid to use in the film. The video then moves to a close-up blurry shot of the creatures face, and shows stock footage of an audience applauding in slow motion. In 2009, a collection of people claimed to have watched the Cervine Birth video. However, the footage has become extremely difficult to locate, which has spawned an urban legend that the video might show an actual humanoid stillborn birth.


Munchkin Suicide
HANGING MUNCHKIN in The Wizard Of Oz: Original VHS Proof

One of the most talked about urban legends comes from the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz. The legend says that an actor can be seen hanging himself in the film. The controversial scene appears at the very end of the Tin Woodsman section of the movie when Dorothy, Toto, the Scarecrow, and the Tinman start walking toward the Emerald City. In the sequence, an object can be seen for a brief second between two trees in the forest. The camera is not zoomed in, but it looks like a person swinging in the trees. For this reason, an urban legend was created that suggests a munchkin can be seen committing suicide.

In the 1980s, the suicidal munchkin legend became popular when people started to watch the sequence on VHS tapes. As the Internet expanded, some have taken to posting detailed examinations of the footage online, which includes zoomed in examples of what looks like a hanging human. This has caused workers from The Wizard of Oz to claim the object is a large bird. Apparently, the movie borrowed several birds from the Los Angeles Zoo to make the forest appear more realistic. One of these birds, thought to be an emu or large crane, was captured on film during the Tin Woodsman scene.

The explanation hasn’t stopped the urban legend from spreading and people have wondered why other birds are not visible in the movie. Some have suggested the original footage was edited on DVD to make it look more like a bird. The claim says that there are multiple different copies of the scene available online. The DVD version is widespread and shows the bird more clearly, which has been attributed to advancements in HD TV.


Satan’s Sphinx

Wtf-Black-White-Pics-Part5-27Satan’s Sphinx is an urban legend video that is said to cause the viewer to experience suicidal tendencies, homicidal thoughts, hysteria, insanity, and self abuse. It was uploaded to the Internet in 2006 by government officials who were testing subliminal messaging and human reaction to violent images. Soon after the release of the clip, the experiment spiraled out of control and people complained that the video was making them depressed.

The urban legend says that the Satan’s Sphinx video contains a high pitched audio track that will irritate the viewer. It holds images of blood, death, and murder that are continually run over the screen. The pictures rotate so fast that it becomes impossible for people to individually identify them. At this point, incoherent whispering is heard and the screen begins to flash. People get dizzy, but don’t want to turn the movie off. The footage is said to last 3:49 and will cause the viewer to become depressed and sleepless. After the experiment, the clip was banned by the U.S. government with all traces removed from the Internet.

Some versions of the legend say the video is a satanic ritual with subliminal messaging that was used by the U.S. government to recruit members for mind control projects. Whatever the case, the underlining theme in the urban legend is that those who watch the video will commit suicide. It has been said that a screenshot from the video is available and shows a scared boy being held captive by two people in weird masks. The urban legend holds that if you find yourself watching the Satan’s Sphinx video, you were meant to.


The McPherson Tape

the McPherson tape is Genuine! Look at the arms!

The McPherson Tape is a real movie that has spawned a collection of urban legends. Officially, the film is named UFO Abduction and was created by Dean Alioto in 1989 for $6,500. The movie is one of the first examples of a found footage film and follows the story of a Connecticut family named the Van Heeses who are abducted by extraterrestrials. The movie was made to look like a genuine home video recording that was taken in 1983 and recovered years later.

The film starts out with a birthday party of a 5-year-old child at the Van Heeses house. After a brief period of time, the group experiences a power outage and bright flash of red light is seen. The men go outside to explore the area and find a plane crash over the hill. At the crash site, they witness a collection of extraterrestrials. The aliens scare the group and the men run back to the house in disbelief. Along the way, they use profanity and it becomes clear the movie is not scripted, but rather improvised. In many scenes the actors can be heard yelling over each other.

For over an hour, the family attempts to fight off the creatures, but the movie ends abruptly with the aliens entering the house and abducting the Van Heeses. At one point in the film the men bring the body of one of the aliens into the house, but it soon disappears. Throughout the movie, the actors do a great job showing terror and fear. Some have suggested the appearance of the aliens is quite convincing as they have long and slender limbs. However, others have complained about the unrealistic clothing on the creatures.

It has become extremely hard to find a copy of UFO Abduction. Sections of the movie can be seen on the Internet, but the entire footage from start to end is not available. In 1998, a remake of the movie was created by Dean Alioto and aired on UPN. The footage is much less convincing and clearly scripted. Since its release, the footage has been labeled the McPherson Tape because it is said to show the actual abduction of the McPherson family. It has been added to a collection of videos that claim to show human contact with aliens. Another example is the 5 Hour Video, which shows military personnel from the United States and China fighting underground aliens. Very little information is available on the 5 Hour Video, which is one reason it has not been featured.

fact checked by Jamie Frater