These Real-Life Stories of Creepy Kid Stuff Will Chill You to the Bone
There's something about the sound of a child's giggle emanating from the darkness, that sends a chill down the spine. Kids can be bundles of joy and sources of infinite love -- but there's also something about children that can be so gosh darn creepy. After all, kids do seem to exist within an aura of the supernatural. Staring blankly into space, looking through people, giving life to inanimate toys, and the real creep-factor favorite: engaging with imaginary friends.
“What could be more frightening than your child gone wrong?” asks horror legend Mick Garris in the latest episode of Eli Roth’s History of Horror. In the latest episode, director Eli Roth and guests Patty McCormack, Milly Shapiro, Piper Laurie, Megan Fox, and more break down the scary children of cinema.
But what happens when some of those stories have a kernel of truth to them -- even the most wild, supernatural tales? Buckle up in your booster seat for a trio of allegedly true tales about kid stuff gone wrong.
The Annabelle Doll
What is it about kids’ toys that's just so creepy? With their lifeless human faces, dead black eyes, and typically unyielding smiles, the spookiness of toys has persisted through generations. One of the most famous scary toys in horror movies is Annabelle, a grim-looking porcelain doll that has become a key fixture in The Conjuring cinematic universe. She even has her own trilogy of movies, and has made other appearances in films such as Aquaman (2018), The Curse of La Llorona (2019), and Shazam! (2019). But there’s more to the Annabelle mythos than what you see onscreen. Apparently, the Annabelle doll has a long, dark, very real history of evil.
In the films, Annabelle has a dinged vintage porcelain face, bulging human-like glass eyes, and a head of life-like strawberry blonde hair in pigtails. In real life, Annabelle looks a lot less intimidating, but the “true story” of her allegedly evil history makes her far more terrifying than her fictional counterpart. The real Annabelle doll is an innocuous-looking Raggedy Ann doll, with soft, floppy limbs, and a mop of bright red yarn hair. She currently resides in the Occult Museum of (in)famous paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, sealed behind glass in a cabinet with a sign that reads “Warning: Positively Do Not Open,” and the Lord’s Prayer inscribed on the outside to keep the evil within bound inside. According to the Warrens and new museum curator Tony Spera (the Warrens’ son-in-law), Annabelle is the most dangerous occult artifact in the museum.
Allegedly, the supernatural activity around the real-life Annabelle doll began in 1970, when a student nurse was gifted the doll by her mother. Things seemed normal, until the woman and her roommate noticed that the doll seemed to be changing positions when they weren’t looking. Then the doll began appearing in different rooms of the house. The women found notes throughout the apartment that said “Help me” over and over again. Notably, they were written on parchment paper, which of course the women didn’t have in their home in the 1970s. One of the roommate’s boyfriend suffered a bizarre and traumatic experience, claiming he was attacked by the doll (stories differ on if he was attacked when he came upon the doll in a room on its own, or as he was waking up from a nap), and his chest was raked with bloody claw marks.
Properly freaked out, the women invited a medium into their home to get some answers about the supernatural activity surrounding the doll. The medium held a séance, and claimed the doll was inhabited by a spirit named Annabelle, a seven-year-old who had died on the site where their home was built. The women felt bad for the “young spirit,” and invited her to stay with them inside the doll. But when the paranormal activity continued, they called in a priest, who referred their story to the Warrens. When the Warrens arrived on the case, they were convinced that the spirit inhabiting Annabelle was not a sweet, lonely child ghost, but rather a demon intent on finding a human host. They performed an exorcism on the house and removed the doll from the home to keep it under watch in their Occult Museum, but the strange happenings didn’t stop there. According to the Warrens, even just the drive from the exorcism to the museum was fraught with danger, with their brakes failing multiple times until Ed Warren doused the doll in holy water.
Now locked inside the glass cabinet with the Lord’s Prayer inscribed on it, visitors to the museum are still warned of the evil power surrounding the doll. There are multiple stories (of course, unverified) of those who have tried to tamper with or insult the doll during their visit to the museum, only to suffer fatal or near-fatal consequences shortly after. To this day, Annabelle sits in the Occult Museum (despite a brief scare that swept through social media in the summer of 2020 that she had escaped), enticing visitors with the curious power of her creepy story.
Black Eyed Kids
Dolls are child’s play compared to the absolute chilling stories of children as agents of supernatural evil, and nowhere is that more evident than in the sweeping urban legends of the Black Eyed Kids. Anecdotal stories of run-ins with the mysterious “Black Eyed Kids” started to spread like wildfire after the first story was reported in 1996. While many relegate the tales of the Black Eyed Kids to “creepypasta” horror legends that have been copied and pasted all over the internet, those who have supposedly engaged with black-eyed children are vehement in the validity of their experiences.
Despite the breadth of occurrences across the United States, the stories all share key similarities. Usually in the middle of the night, a lone adult is either at home or in their car, when they're approached by a small group of children. Immediately, the adult is seized with dread -- a curious effect, since logically what's outwardly scary about a group of kids? The children almost immediately start asking to be let inside: they need to come in to use the phone, they need to come in for something to eat, they need to be driven back to their parents. Always, the children need to be invited; apparently they're not able to transgress on their own. Some say the voices of the children are monotonous and lifeless. Some say the children seem to only be able to speak in a few repeating sentences. They always have jet black eyes with no color, no white sclera -- just bottomless voids of shadow. In some reports, when their victim see the truth of their black eyes, the kids become agitated or even violent.
Despite the plethora of anecdotal stories about chilling run-ins with the Black Eyed Kids, no one is quite sure what they want or what they are. Some posit they could be some kind of extraterrestrials, or some kind of vampire that needs to be invited inside. Of course, theories about their demonic origin also run rampant. (Furthermore, there are still others who think they’re just a spooky story/internet hoax). Whether you’re a believer in the supposedly “true tales” or not, there’s certainly something spine-tingling about the idea of a group of small children wandering around on their own at night demanding to be let inside your house.
The Haunting of Eleonore Zugun
Sometimes within these tales of creepy kids, the children themselves are still innocent—they’re just surrounded by dark and evil happenings. In one of the most closely investigated poltergeist experiences, Romanian pre-teen Eleonore Zugun was at the heart of a series of inexplicable violent paranormal phenomena. The supernatural activity began around Eleonore in 1925, when the young girl was 11, after she had an argument with her grandmother. Her grandmother’s home was struck by a shower of stones, including porcelain and brick (crucially not hail), which smashed the windows of the home and sent the family fleeing. Upon returning inside, the family discovered that most of the debris from the torrent of stones was reportedly aimed towards Eleonore. Similar activity continued, and Eleonore was the target of flying objects around the home and more sudden showers of rocks all aimed at her. Eleonore’s grandparents were (perhaps understandably) fed up with this inexplicable destruction, and Eleonore was sent back to her parental home... but nothing changed. Manifestations of supernatural activity continued around the girl, with reports of plates launching themselves towards her and those around her, and even potatoes pelting her and her family. Eleonore woke up with scratches and marks on her body, in places she couldn’t have reached on her own.
It wasn’t long before Eleonore’s parents called in a priest to investigate. When the priest also reported experiencing supernatural activity around Eleonore, her story started to spread more widely, even reaching German newspapers. Reading about her story, German physical researcher Fritz Grunewald set out to study the bizarre phenomena surrounding Eleonore. By this time she had been sent to a convent, had undergone multiple “failed exorcisms,” and was finally sent to a mental hospital. Under Grunewald’s care, the violent activity around Eleonore persisted, and just a few weeks after studying her, Grunewald dropped dead of a heart attack. As if things couldn’t get any more bleak for her, Eleonore was sent back to the mental hospital, where she was treated like a witch and heretic.
Fortunately, things turned around for Eleonore when her case was taken up by Countess Zoe Wassilo-Serecki of Austria. The Countess picked up where Grunwald had left off, spiriting Eleonore away from the mental hospital, this time to Vienna, where the young girl lived under careful observation by the Countess and her team of physical researchers. The Countess attempted to apply some aspects of the scientific method to the phenomena surrounding Eleonore, by restricting her movements to only a few rooms in the house, finding that phenomena typically occurred in Eleonore’s vicinity -- but not necessarily when Eleonore was present. The Countess found that the activity usually occurred in the room Eleonore was in, or the room directly next to her, implying there was indeed a range of supernatural activity extending from the child, with Eleonore at its center. Ink was thrown across the room, Eleonore’s boots inexplicably filled with water, objects disappeared and reappeared elsewhere, toys dropped from the air, there were mysterious sounds on furniture, and one report of a mysterious voice. Eleonore sometimes went into trances of automatic writing, and she continued to be the victim of “dermal phenomena,” mysterious scratches and bites on her skin, with teeth-marks that didn’t match Eleonore’s own teeth, and even smears of saliva with different microorganisms than those in Eleonore’s mouth. The Countess recorded all of the phenomena in a series of log books that amounted to nearly three thousand different experiences.
The Countess took Eleonore on a tour of some of the major cities in Europe to visit leading physical researchers at the time, including the famous but controversial Harry Price. These travels led to further documentation, particularly of the violent marks that appeared on Eleonore’s skin. Despite widespread criticism that her story was a hoax, the sudden appearance of marks on Eleonore’s skin remained a mystery to believers and skeptics alike.
When Eleonore reached puberty and started to menstruate (around 1927), the supernatural activity surrounding her ceased almost as quickly as it had started. The Countess observed no more violent phenomena, and Eleonore was soon free to pursue her own interests as a normal kid. Her intensely well-documented story, and the onset of the “demonic” activity directly matching the onset of puberty, proved to be one of the foundational tales regarding the link between adolescence and poltergeist phenomena that persists among paranormal researchers today. Plus, it just goes to show that there really is something extra spooky and supernatural about children.
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