creepy 10 Terrifying Creepypastas With Real-Life Roots

Brent Sprecher
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If you've spent any amount of time on the Internet, chances are you've run across creepypastas, the term for those bizarre photos, eerie anecdotes, and terrifying horror stories that are often passed off as true, but are merely works of fiction that gain notoriety as they are cut-and-pasted from forum to forum, site to site. Before you dismiss them outright, however, we must warn you that we've done some digging and discovered that several of the best, most frightening creepypastas are, in fact, based on true stories. So, lock the doors, turn on all the lights, and get ready to discover ten terrifying creepypastas that might be true.

Disney Never Abandoned A Jungle Book-Themed Park, But They Did Shutter A Different Site

Disney Never Abandoned A Jungl... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 10 Terrifying Creepypastas With Real-Life Roots
Photo:  Original: Wikimedia Commons/Edit: B.Sprecher

Disney, seeking to expand its empire and cash in on the beloved 1967 animated movie The Jungle Book, began construction of a jungle-themed resort in Emerald Isle, NC, in the late '90s. For whatever reason, Disney decided to abandon construction of the park, leaving the nearly completed complex intact and releasing the wild animals into the wild. As the "Abandoned by Disney" creepypasta goes, an urban explorer discovered the park and found that it was inhabited by not only wild animals, but a "secret society" of homeless people and a murderous creature wearing a Mickey Mouse mascot costume.

While Disney has never had any plans to open a resort based on The Jungle Book in real life, the media giant has opened and closed parks before, which likely gave rise to this popular creepypasta and the confusion about whether it is a true story or not. In the '70s, soon after Walt Disney World opened, Disney purchased an island in Bay Lake, FL, and opened a zoo there which they called "Treasure Island." It was later renamed Discovery Island and closed its doors forever in 1999. Obviously, the island is still there, but it is closed to the public. Unlike the creepypasta, Disney did not release the animals into the wild; instead, they were transferred to the then-new Animal Kingdom park.

Robert The Doll Is On Display In Key West, FL, But How Much Of The Legend About It Is True?

Robert The Doll Is On Display ... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 10 Terrifying Creepypastas With Real-Life Roots
Photo:  Original: Wikimedia Commons/Edit: B.Sprecher

Rather than causing a scene after being fired by the Otto family for practicing rituals native to her home country of Haiti, a servant gave a lifelike doll to the family's son, Robert, and left without incident. The boy loved the large doll and named it Robert, after himself, even dressing it in his own clothing and pretending to feed it at dinnertime. Soon, however, the boy's relationship with the doll turned sinister and he began referring to himself as Gene because the doll did not want to share names with him. When Mr. Otto died, Gene inherited the house and eventually wed. Gene and his wife eventually went insane and died of unknown causes, leaving Robert alone in the house, where he would terrorize anyone who would happen along.

The story of Robert the Doll is particularly disturbing because it was an urban legend and ghost story long before it gained new life on the internet as a creepypasta. It's unknown how much of the legend is based on fact and how much in fantasy, but the doll itself is real and you can visit it at the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West, FL, where it supposedly continues to terrify people to this day. 

The Russian Sleep Experiment Creepypasta Is Rooted In Real-World Human Experiments

The Russian Sleep Experiment C... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 10 Terrifying Creepypastas With Real-Life Roots
Photo: YouTube

This truly gruesome creepypasta holds that the Soviet government conducted experiments on political prisoners in the 1940s designed to test the limits of human endurance. The prisoners were promised their freedom if they volunteered for a sleep deprivation experiment and were exposed to a gas stimulant that kept them awake for 15 days straight. The subjects became addicted to the gas and devolved into madness and barbarism, their bodies ripped apart by the strain of the experience.

The exact impetus for this story is unknown, but there are numerous real world examples of governments experimenting on human subjects. The British military exposed their soldiers to mind-altering drugs like LSD, the Americans tested mustard gas on unwitting soldiers, and Japan's Unit 731 tortured and killed an estimated 12,000 mostly Chinese and Russian prisoners during WWII. The researchers in Unit 731 were never brought to justice following the war because they received full immunity in exchange for turning over the collected data to the Soviets and Americans after the war.

Creepypastas About Sinister Lost Episodes Of Classic Cartoons Echo The Censored 11

Creepypastas About Sinister Lo... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 10 Terrifying Creepypastas With Real-Life Roots
Photo: YouTube

We like to think of cartoons as a safe refuge of playful entertainment, programs that indulge the imaginations of our children and, hopefully, teach a lesson or two. But, there are times when the creative minds behind our favorite animated adventures have gone too far, producing cartoons that depict images too disturbing for children.

Most are pulled from broadcast before being aired or locked away in a vault somewhere, but several of these "Lost Episodes" can still be found on the Internet. The first known example, a short Disney film from the 1930s, finds Mickey Mouse trudging through the streets to the sounds of horrible piano music, screaming, and laughing before his bemused smile turns into a cadaverous grin and his face rips, rots, and falls apart. In a lost episode of Spongebob Squarepants, the typically dour Squidward Tentacles finally succumbs to his depression and commits suicide after seeing a montage of horrifying images, including camcorder footage of murdered children.

The existence of the aforementioned Mickey Mouse and Spongebob Squarepants cartoons has been denied by the respective studios and debunked ad nauseam, but creepypastas about "lost episodes" continue to be among the more popular topics online. The fact that animators have been accused of hiding secret messages and even sexual imagery in seemingly innocent cartoons adds to the plausibility of these stories being true, as does the supposed existence of banned cartoons from the '30s and '40s known as the "Censored 11." These Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons were supposedly locked away due to depictions of disgusting racial stereotypes.

The Alice Killings Story Is Reminiscent Of The Playing Card Killer

The Alice Killings Story Is Re... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list 10 Terrifying Creepypastas With Real-Life Roots
Photo:  Original: Pixabay/Edit: B.Sprecher

A mysterious serial killer terrorized Japan for a decade, leaving a trail of uniquely gruesome murders in his wake and two tell-tale clues: a playing card and the name "Alice" written in the victims' own blood. Thus goes the premise of "The Alice Killings," a creepypasta about five unsolved murders that has been told and re-told so many times that it is often mistaken for genuine crime news.

The actual killer on which this creepypasta is likely based is all too real, unfortunately, though his murders took place far from the islands of Japan. Alfredo Galan Sotillo, an officer in the Spanish Army, murdered six people and wounded three over a three-month period in 2003 after returning to his native land after taking part in a humanitarian mission in Bosnia. Sotillo was dubbed "The Playing Card Killer" because tarot cards were left at the scene of his crimes.

The Expressionless Isn't Real, But The Photo That Accompanies It Is

The Expressionless Isn't R... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list 10 Terrifying Creepypastas With Real-Life Roots
Photo: YouTube

Numerous creepypastas contain characters with "expressionless" faces, but the most spine-chilling of them all tells the story of a Jane Doe admitted to Cedar Sinai Hospital in June 1972. The woman had smooth, pale skin and her face was utterly blank and expressionless, like a mannequin. She had the body of a kitten clenched in her teeth and no one could pry it from her jaws. The staff was terrified of her and many of them left their stations. Several of those that remained to care for her fell victim to her powerful bite.

The story is almost always accompanied by the eerie photo above by Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon, titled "Student Nurses With a Waxwork Patient" from his 1972 book Assignments. In this case, the story is made up, but the photo is all too real and likely causes the hairs on the back of our necks to stand up because of the "uncanny valley" nature of the figure, an innate revulsion humans have to near-human figures or robots. A more recent example is the disturbing, expressionless robot "Tara" in the anonymous YouTube video titled "I Feel Fantastic," which has amassed nearly 10 million views and inspired a whole new string of creepypastas.

The Well To Hell Really Exists... Kind Of

The Well To Hell Really Exists... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list 10 Terrifying Creepypastas With Real-Life Roots
Photo: Martha de Jong-Lantink/flickr/CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Most creepypastas are based on an image or an idea, but this one comes courtesy of some terrifying sounds – the groans of Hell, as the story goes. Searching for oil, natural gas, and rare minerals, Russian geologists drilled more than a thousand miles through the crust of the earth. Their excitement turned to horror when bloodcurdling screams emanated from the bore hole: the sounds of souls in torment. The geologists knew then that they had drilled straight to Hell itself.

While we have no confirmation of a pitchfork-wielding demon residing at the center of the earth, geologists really have created a "super deep borehole" on Russia's Kola peninsula that delves down more than 40,000 feet into the earth's crust. And, yes, some mighty strange sounds have emerged from that subterranean passage (thankfully, no groans or screams among them). The idea that the noises come from a malevolent demon might also have been inspired by the eerie noises heard in Moodus, CT, which Wangunk folklore attributes to Hobomoko, an angry deity that lives underground.

The Axeman Of New Orleans Is Very Real But Probably Not Captured In This Creepypasta Photo

The Axeman Of New Orleans Is V... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list 10 Terrifying Creepypastas With Real-Life Roots
Photo: Senjumaru Shutara / Anomaly/Fandom/CC-BY-SA

As the story goes, a French photographer and inventor named Édouard Martel took thousands of photos during his two decades traversing the United States at the start of the 20th century. Often, Martel would hide his camera and set it up to automatically take photos while he observed from some distance away. This way, he could capture life on the streets, without the artifice of posing his subjects. In this case, Martel captured not life, but death, in the form of the mysterious "Axeman of New Orleans," a brutal serial killer who was never caught. Martel apparently discarded the photo as useless because it was not of good enough quality, but had he taken the time to study it he might have become famous for catching the killer, rather than dying penniless and unknown.

This creepypasta is different than most in that a) Édouard-Alfred Martel was a real person, but a French spelunker and not a photographer; b) the photo that the creepypasta is based on is real and nearly 100 years old, but likely not taken by Martel; and c) the "Axeman of New Orleans" was a very real killer who murdered six people during an 18-month period starting in 1918. Described by police as a "foul demon from the hottest hell," the Axeman even sent a letter to the Times-Picayune newspaper saying that he would fly over the city at 12:15 AM on March 19, 1919, and would spare anyone playing jazz music. The character was famously depicted in the third season of American Horror Story.