Satanic Panic! The 4 Greatest Halloween Urban Legends

October 04, 2018 7 min read

Satanic Panic! The 4 Greatest Halloween Urban Legends

Let’s take a journey to a different time. A simpler time. A better time. A time where Lionel Ritchie is dancing all over every ceiling he sees and the Bangles are stopping traffic due to their excessive Egyptian-style walking. Stephen King has a new book out, it’s called It, or something like that, and it's the New York Times’ top selling book of the year. If you’re not the reading type, we can just cuddle up with our Pound Puppies and watch ALF or Pee-wee’s Playhouse. That’s right, my friends, it’s the middle of the 1980s and the livin’? It is easy.

Let’s take it a step further and imagine that we’re kids again, living a life without any bills or responsibilities. Feel that chill in the air? That’s right, it’s the spooky season! We’re putting on our homemade Popeye or She-Ra costumes for the third year in a row and our parents are getting us ready to go out trick-or-treating. Before they let us out the door with our pillowcases, however, they have some words of warning for us.

Now snap back to today. I know, I really didn’t want to leave either, but we had to. Along with our receding hairlines and mortgages, we had to bring back those words of wisdom our parents or friends shared with us all those years ago. Without them, future generations of trick-or-treaters are in grave danger! They won’t know what to watch out for on Halloween! So, to help humanity survive the next All Hallows’ Eve, I’ve compiled a list of these legends and warnings for everyone to read. So, without further ado, here are the greatest, and most important, Halloween urban legends of all time:

1. Death by Chocolate

Ever since I can remember, my mom or dad forced me to let them inspect my Halloween candy before I could have a piece. This didn’t just happen for the unwrapped treats, either. Every single piece of candy was thoroughly inspected and examined, looking for any signs of tampering. Movies like 1981’s Halloween II and 2007’s Trick ‘r Treat show us the horrific things that can happen to a kid whose parents aren’t there to check their treats.

Without our parent’s diligence, we would almost certainly have gotten a razor blade or pins stuck in the roof of our mouths. I heard that our neighbor’s cousin even had one go down his throat, staining the front of his Halloween costume an alarming red, as a geyser of crimson blood flooded out of his mouth. If we didn’t get a razor or a pin in our treats, we were sure to get poisoned.

Razor in Snickers Bar

The poisoning of Halloween candy has been a legend for decades, but the mid-1980s was when panic really took hold. In 1982, seven people were killed in the Chicago area when medicine they had purchased was found to be laced with cyanide. This “Tylenol Killer” was never caught and allowed the nasty poison boogeyman to rear his ugly head across the country. Parents everywhere just knew that the person responsible for these deaths had moved into their state, into their town, onto their street. Fortunately, there has only been one verified account of someone poisoning children with Halloween candy, and it wasn’t a random act of evil as we have been led to fear. In 1974 poor Timothy O’Bryan, a 10-year-old boy from Houston, Texas, was killed by a Pixie Stix laced with cyanide. This poisoned candy was placed into his bag, and into the bags of his sister and three other kids, by his father, Ronald O’Bryan. Ronald was convicted of the murder and was executed in 1984 by lethal injection.

Unfortunately for kids all over the country, the act of hiding razor blades or pins in treats is not simply an urban legend. There have been around 80 reported and verified cases of someone sticking sharp objects into Halloween candy since 1959, but so far, this has not resulted in any deaths. The act of placing a razor blade in an apple is almost always a prank, and few cases ever caused anything more severe than simply cuts to the victims’ mouths. One case that broke this tradition happened in Minnesota in 2000, where 49-year-old James Joseph Smith inserted pins into all of the candy bars he handed out on Halloween night. Again, there were no fatalities, but maybe your parents were right to check your goodies. You never know when a twisted candy giver might just want to see the blood flow on Halloween night.

2. Trippy Tattoos

Letter to parents warning of Halloween candy laced with LSD

The only thing that parents in the 1980s dreaded worse than a dead child was a drug-addicted child. They would never be able to show their faces in public again if it got out that their little one was smoking drugs! Out of this fear comes our next urban legend, where kids are lured into the world of drugs and sexual relations through lick-and-stick tattoos.


Here’s how the story goes: a local drug dealer is down on his luck. He has bills to pay and not a dollar to his name. The world of drugs is a world of supply-and-demand, and the only way to increase business is to increase demand. What should he do?

“I know! I'll get kids hooked on drugs by lacing some temporary tattoos with LSD!”

In the 1980s, it was someone handing out Mickey Mouse tattoos. In the 1990s, it was Bart Simpson (¡Ay, caramba!). Since then, stories have bubbled up from all over the country about a nefarious group of dealers handing children Blue Star Tattoos. These tattoos, when licked and placed on the skin, would take children on a magic carpet ride of funk and love. Schools have even gone so far as to send home papers warning parents about the plot. Although this legend has been proven to be very false, it’s probably sound logic to not accept anything you must lick from a hooded man on the corner. It will inevitably lead to either an unimaginably great, or a really poor Halloween night.

3. Satan Requires a Sacrifice!

The Devil

Growing up, I was always told to watch out for a black carriage that would drive through our town on Halloween night. Some people were told to stay away from cemeteries or mausoleums. Other were warned about a truck that would drive around with its lights off, offering unsuspecting trick-or-treaters rides that they will never return from. Whatever the warning, the entity behind it was none other than ol’ Splitfoot himself.


Satan was hungry for sacrifices, and he had his minions working overtime every Halloween night. They would come around, offering candy or drugs to kids, and take them to cemeteries or abandoned houses to sacrifice to their Dark Lord. Parents all over the country worried for their little ones, and even went so far as to keep them home or have them trick-or-treat in a church parking lot to keep the devil at bay.

One legend that is still alive and well is that Satan requires the blood of precious little kitties to rule the world. Every year, animal shelters across the country warn that black cats are sacrificed to the devil on Halloween night, even going so far as implementing stricter adoption laws during the fall season. Whether this legend is true or not is up for debate, but every kid that walked the streets in the 80s expected to round a corner and see a mutilated cat (or kid) hanging from the lamppost. So, keep your pets and children close to home on Halloween night, because as the 1980s taught us, the devil is everywhere.

4. Deadly Haunted House

A Spooky Haunted House

Growing up in Illinois has its advantages (a whole lotta corn) and its disadvantages (a haunted house that kills everyone who enters). Every major metropolis has a legend like it, but the one I heard as a kid centered around a secret haunted house in Chicago. We were all told that the entrance fee for this house was $100 (which was a fortune to a kid in the 1980s), but if you were somehow able to make it through all 13 levels of terror, you were given your money back! There was only one catch:

No one had ever made it to the 13th floor, and no one had ever made it out alive! Hundreds of people tried every year, but they were forever lost in the macabre maze within the urban building. Victims either ran afoul of the ex-convicts that populated the halls, or they died of starvation after getting lost in the dark. Either way, only the bravest of souls would dare venture up to the Windy City to try their luck. If you are of such a mind this Halloween season, head into the darkest alley in your local town and look for the Blue Star on the door.


Obviously, there is no proof that anything like this haunted house has ever existed. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t exist, though. Doesn’t it make perfect sense that there would be no eyewitnesses left to tell the tale? I mean, anyone who has ever tried to conquer the 13 floors of terror has perished, so of course we wouldn’t have any proof. So, it may be farfetched, it may be unbelievable, but if you find yourself on the first floors of one of these houses this year, make sure to say your prayers.

So, there you have it! Here are four of the most important urban legends to watch out for this Halloween. Although many of them have been disproven, it’s still not a bad idea to watch your back on October 31st. There is a kernel of truth inside every legend, and these kernels might just kill. So, whether it’s poison, a razor blade, satanic cults or a deadly haunted house, these legends prove that there are things in the night that are hungry, and Halloween night is the perfect night to feed.

Tyler Liston is a contributor for Pixel Elixir and lives in the Midwest with his wife and son. He checks his Halloween candy extra-thoroughly every year.