In a world of remakes, reboots and infinite sequels it feels as though the well might have finally run dry on the world of horror. There might, however, be an untapped vein online, with a new bred of urban legend that has secured its footprint in the digital arena. From nefarious beings that prey on children to doorways into other sinister worlds, internet legends are often not just scary, but a friend-of-a-friend away from happening in our own backyard.
1. Ong’s Hat
Quite possibly the grand-daddy of all internet legends, Ong’s Hat is now a verified hoax (possibly), BUT back in the day, it had legions of believers, so many, in fact, that the originator of the tale started to fear for his own life.
Centered around a ghost town in the middle of the Pine Barrens, Ong’s Hat has everything; rogue physicists, sex magic, and even parallel worlds. There are still remnants of this one floating around in the dark recesses of the web, but at one time the internet was RIFE with Ong’s Hat data. With this one being around since the late 80’s, I’m really shocked we haven’t seen an attempt to bring it to the screen.
The core of the legend centered around a group of young rebellious physicists who, jaded by a system that stifles free thought, set out on their own, incorporating fringe science and yes, wait for it, tantric sex rituals, to open holes into other dimensions. Successfully constructing a pod (the egg) to traverse both space and time, the group disappeared, presumably into another dimension.
2. The Elevator Game
As you will soon see, a lot of internet legends, for whatever reasons, deal with trips to otherworlds/alternate dimensions. The Elevator Game is another internet legend with more than enough information online to base a feature film off of its story. This story, all about audience participation, puts any soul brave enough to try it in the very maw of a hellish landscape.
The steps for achieving this are simple enough. Find a building with at least ten floors with little to no foot traffic. Hop in that building’s elevator and press a specific series of buttons before finally winding up on the tenth floor; a dark “otherworld” complete with an oppressive atmosphere and a bizarre red, glowing cross. Oh, did we mention that a spectral entity to try to thwart your attempts around the 5th floor.
The Elevator Game is supposedly of Korean origin and some bloggers have even attached it to the tragic and bizarre death of Elisa Lam.
3. Momo Challenge
Fairly recent and one that was quickly debunked is the rather bizarre story surrounding Momo.
Surfacing in 2018 the Momo Challenge involved messaging application WhatsApp. Allegedly Momo would randomly select a child your young adult to message, challenging them to commit various destructive acts that would get progressively more violent. Ultimately the acts of violence would increase, rendering the participant unable to stop until they too suffered suffered the ultimate act of self-inflicted violence: suicide.
Reports of the Momo Challenge were received by law enforcement world-wide though any real accounts were rarely verified. It was later learned that the image of Momo, a terrifying human-bird like creature was actually a 2016 sculpture created by a Japanese FX company.
Smile.jpg, much like internet sensation Slender Man, has its roots in the early days of Creepy Pasta. This one, in fact, even made the rounds on 4CHAN for those of us old enough to know what that was.
The legend of smile.jpg centers around a photograph, depicting a dog that unsettlingly smiles at the camera, exposing a set of human-like teeth. People who saw the photo reported an uneasy feeling accompanied by paranoia, sometimes illness, and, in the most extreme of cases, madness. Forums were full of people claiming to have been sent the picture only to later lose themselves to their own despondency, often taking their own lives.
The original story, written in typical Creepy Pasta first person, detailed the hunt for the original photo, ending in an email chain letter that could threaten the very sanity of the planet. The real image that inspired the story has often been reported to surface here and there in the darker shadows of the web and an image search will bring up plenty of supposed originals as well.
5. Ed Kann, The Secret of Evermore and The Noise Coming from Inside Children
Gonna go ahead and give you a nice bright shiny warning on this one. Although it does have some very real ties to the very “real” world, Ed Kann, as of this moment has still not been proven to actually exist.
Kann, a supposed writer on the the SNES RPG title Secret of Evermore was one of an entirely new and little known group of creatives hired by software company to make the game. Although the game debuted as a somewhat quirky title aimed at younger gamers, other reports, including magazine articles showing screens and dialogue previous to its release show a much darker quest was originally intended. How much Kann actually contributed is also a mystery as any word of him has all but vanished… with an exception.
Apparently, Kann had, at one point, had a short story published under the title “The Noise Coming from Inside Children. Allegedly the work was so disturbing that it itself was whisked out of public mention to the shadows of conspiracy where its legitimacy is still questioned today.
**Just another little tidbit for anyone that thinks there might be a code to crack here… Alan Weiss, who was instrumental in the creation of the game has been pretty vocal with fans online and attests to the fact that Ed Kann was never involved**