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Trick or myth

Trick or myth
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Treating would be nothing without the tricks. And Halloween wouldn’t be fun without a scare or two. That’s the allure of the terrifying tales that circulate around Halloween and have taken on legendary status. Still, some of those who celebrate this spooky ritual take the Halloween pranks too far. But chances are, those Halloween stories are just that – stories. Well, most of the time. Here’s the truth behind some popular and pervasive Halloween-based urban legends.

A lunatic has hidden razor blades in apples

A lunatic has hidden razor blades in apples
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You heard it when you were a kid, and if you’re a parent now, you probably give the same warning to your own children: “Be careful what you eat on Halloween, because it might cut your mouth to shreds!” Thankfully, that’s very unlikely to happen. Booby-trapped treats are largely an urban legend. Joel Best and Gerald T. Horiuchi assert in their scholarly paper, The Razor Blade in the Apple: The Social Construction of Urban Legends, that these threats to children and their Halloween sweets are highly overblown. In fact, most of the alleged incidents turned out to be hoaxes. There have been a few cases of sharp objects in fruit – which, yes, is frightening but they didn’t necessarily happen during Halloween – however the majority of those were actually pranks.

A real murderer is behind the Scream face mask

A real murderer is behind the Scream face mask
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Wes Craven’s slasher movie Scream presented us with an instantly recognisable villain: Ghostface – whose mask was inspired by the figure in Edvard Munch’s 1893 painting The Scream. Understandably, Halloween became a prime time to wear that mask – and for people to worry whether a real murderer was hiding behind one of them. After all, if everyone is wearing a mask, how can you know who poses a threat to you? It turns out that there may actually be something to this myth. According to Newsweek, there were indeed a handful of murders after Scream came out that were apparently inspired by the movie. In one, the killer wore a Ghostface mask while brutally stabbing his victim with kitchen knives. The bottom line: you never know who is behind a mask, but thankfully, it’s usually just a harmless trick-or-treater.

Not all Halloween movies are bone-chillingly scary. Here are 25 of the best kid-friendly Halloween movies.

Your kid’s lollies could be laced with drugs or poison

Your kid’s lollies could be laced with drugs or poison
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Chances are, your crazy neighbour isn’t tampering with children’s sweets on Halloween. This myth really took hold in the 1980s, when someone in the US put cyanide in paracetamol on store shelves. Even though it was an unrelated incident, experts theorise that this Halloween-treat fear evolved as a way for parents to teach their children to be aware of stranger danger and to pay more attention to their surroundings. Vice interviewed ‘Halloween sadism’ scholar Joel Best about the drugs-in-the-candy legend and found that in the very few cases when it actually happened (and yes, it actually happened), weird neighbours usually weren’t responsible. In one case, a child actually died of a congenital heart defect. And in another, a father poisoned his own son in order to collect on a life insurance policy. Still, it’s a good idea to make sure your kids only eat lollies that comes in a sealed and unopened wrapper – much more hygienic, too!

If you are hosting a party, here are some great easy fun Halloween food ideas.

Those temporary tattoos aren’t safe either

Those temporary tattoos aren’t safe either
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According to this urban legend that’s been around since the 1970s, drug dealers put LSD into temporary tattoos. The reasoning: they’re trying to get new customers by tricking unsuspecting kids into trying the drug. Another variation of this tale adds that the LSD is laced with the deadly poison strychnine. According to Snopes, there has never been a verified case of this actually happening, even though some schools occasionally send out warnings when the rumours resurface.

The apples you’re bobbing for have been poisoned

The apples you’re bobbing for have been poisoned
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Bobbing for apples is an old-school Halloween tradition. Originally, it was a kind of matchmaking game for young women. According to History.com, there were several variations of the game in which a woman would supposedly learn the fate of her love life based on which apple she picked. But much like the poison-in-the-candy and razor-blade-in-the-apple myths, it became laden with its own frights. If you’re bobbing for apples today, you shouldn’t be concerned with the urban legend of poisoned apples – but you might want to worry about the bacteria and germs in the water. Generally, though, it’s a pretty safe activity.

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You will summon Bloody Mary by saying her name three times

You will summon Bloody Mary by saying her name three times
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Say her name three times as you gaze directly into the mirror and she will appear! You may have tried this once in your childhood, either on Halloween or on another random night when you were having a sleepover. You waited for the ghoulish figure to show up to scare you or even to hurt you…but, of course, she never did. We probably don’t need to spell this out, but there is no ghostly Bloody Mary.

According to Snopes, kids between the ages of 9 and 12 are particularly fascinated by legends like this because it’s a safe way to get a vicarious thrill and also release some anxiety. There was actually a real (and terrifying) Bloody Mary, but she’s not at the root of this urban legend. The nickname belongs to Queen Mary I of England, who burned hundreds of Protestants at the stake.

Killer clowns are on the loose

Killer clowns are on the loose
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Clowns have always been both a source of amusement and fear. The fear of clowns, or coulrophobia, is actually a common phobia among adults. US serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who was dubbed ‘the Killer Clown’ because he sometimes dressed as a clown during town events, is one reason that people may find clowns disturbing and threatening. Stephen King’s novel It certainly didn’t help the clown image either. But there’s more to it than that. Experts believe the fear of clowns may be due to the ‘uncanny valley effect’, in which people find things that “look human but aren’t quite there” extremely unsettling.

To make things even scarier, in 2016, there was a strange outbreak of menacing clown sightings in the US, which spread to Australia and no doubt other places in the world. Some incidents were just plain creepy, while others reportedly involved full-fledged attacks.

If you prefer to put the fun into Halloween try these fabulous dog dress-ups!

Kidnappers are out in full force on Halloween

Kidnappers are out in full force on Halloween
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The truth: kids aren’t at a greater risk of being kidnapped on Halloween than they are on any other day of the year. But it has happened, and those cases tend to get a lot of media attention. The fear of kidnappers on Halloween night has become so strong that in North America it inspired a new tradition: trunk-or-treat. HuffPost Canada reports that church groups were the first to start the trunk-or-treat activity, which limits trick-or-treating to a closed environment and subsequently makes the tradition safer for kids. Of course, parents can also trick-or-treat with their children to make sure they stay safe.

And if you are after some fun Halloween craft ideas kids will love to make, we’ve got it covered.

That Halloween decoration is a real dead body

That Halloween decoration is a real dead body
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This urban legend persists not just because people are splurging on expensive decorations but because it has some real-life backup. The website Thought Catalog details a number of stories in which people thought they were looking at a fake body but instead were looking at an actual victim of murder, suicide or accidental death. As awful and tragic as those stories are, they are rare. The overwhelming majority of the time, those lifelike decorations are thankfully just decorations.

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