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It's that time again.

It's becoming a reader favorite and Halloween tradition for us to count down those ridiculously over-the-top gruesome urban myths that, oh by the way, happen to be true. This is our third year (HERE is the first one, and HERE is the second) and once again these stories prove that truth is far more horrifying than fiction.

6
Man Killed by Saw-style Explosive Neck Device

The Legend:

So all those convoluted puzzles and traps the Jigsaw killer uses, they're all just so ridiculous, right? Who would actually go through all that trouble?


Danny Glover knows.

So then you run into somebody on the Internet who heard about how a real guy showed up at a bank and said he had an explosive collar around his neck that would deposit his brains all over the walls unless he robbed the bank on behalf of a criminal mastermind.

Oh, please.

The Truth:

On a day like any other in late August 2003, pizza deliveryman Brian Wells was about to end his shift when a fateful order came in. The directions given to Brian led him to a winding, deserted, dirt road that ended at a lonely TV tower. Now most people upon arriving at the spooky deserted road would have just tossed the pizzas in the ditch, but not Brian Wells. He was dedicated to his minimum-wage delivery job.

What exactly happened on that dirt road is still subject to debate, but what we do know is that around an hour later he reappeared at the aforementioned bank, with the collar contraption around his neck, a homemade shotgun shaped like a walking cane in his hand, and a note demanding a quarter million dollars in cash.

Unfortunately for Brian he was about as good at robbing banks as he was at avoiding obvious horror movie set-ups, and was apprehended by the police in the parking lot. The cops quickly discovered the collar, but just took it for a stylish ticking fashion accessory, and didn't bother to call the bomb squad for nearly half an hour. By the time the bomb squad did arrive, the collar had gone off, blowing a "postcard-sized" hole in Wells's chest.


Flava Flav is indirectly responsible for this.

The police found a list of tasks on Wells's body, each of which were to be completed in a set period of time or the bomb would go off. Poor Brian was doomed from the start though, as it was later determined it would have been impossible for him to execute all the tasks even if everything had gone according to plan. He simply hadn't been given enough time.

While supposedly all those responsible for putting the collar on Brian Wells have since been caught and charged, the addition of the weird, wacky, walking cane shotgun leads us to believe that there may have been another perpetrator that hasn't yet been brought to justice.

5
The Call from Beyond the Grave

The Legend:

This one sounds like a modern update on a timeless campfire story: Someone receives numerous calls from a friend or family member, only to find out later THEY WERE DEAD THE WHOLE TIME.

The Truth:

On September 12, 2008, a California commuter train ran through a red warning light, crashing into a freight train, killing 25 people.

The family of Charles Peck, knowing he was on the train, watched the news with dread waiting for news of his fate--and then they got a call. Then another, and another, all from Charles's cell phone.

One family member after another was called, with Charles's cellphone sending out 35 calls in total, at which point, ghost calls or not, we're sure they just started letting the things go to voicemail.

The police managed to find Charles's body among the wreckage by tracking his cell phone signal, but it was not a happy reunion. Charles was dead, and to this day how those calls were sent remains a mystery.

Now, how about some irony with your creepy? Guess what the train's engineer was distracted by when he ran past that red light? Yup, in a twist that would be cut from a Twilight Zone episode for being too cheesy, it was his cell phone. God's not only a cruel bastard, but a hack horror writer as well apparently.

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4
The Deadly Elevator

The Legend:

The metal doors clamp down on a hapless victim, who can do nothing but scream in terror as the elevator dings and begins to rise, shearing off their head or limbs as it does. It's a scene that's turned up in several cheesy horror movies (including one movie based entirely around a murderous elevator).

But surely this kind of thing doesn't happen in real life. There are safety measures, right? Right?

The Truth:

Well yes, there are, but for whatever reason they were of no help to Dr. Hitoshi Nikaidoh on August 16, 2003. Why didn't the elevator open again, or shut down when the doctor became pinned between the doors at the shoulders as he was getting on? To this day nobody's exactly sure, but inspectors have suggested the tragedy may have been caused by a single out of place wire.

How much damage can one skewed wire cause?

Well, as the doors held Dr. Nikaidoh in place like a vice, the elevator began its ascent. It sliced his head in two at mouth-level, leaving only his left ear and lower jaw attached to his body. Found that a little nauseating to read? Well suck it up, and try to imagine what it was like for the other person in the elevator with him. She was a nurse who then had to spend up to an hour in a blood-soaked box with the good doctor's head. We're surprised they didn't find her scaling the elevator cables like John McClane to get the hell out of there.

Of course, we're just being alarmist when we act like a single wire could come dislodged at any time and kill your ass. Oh, wait, actually around 30 people are killed by elevators each year.

3
The Chainsaw Suicide

The Legend:

This one has gotten bounced around in "news of the weird" columns for decades, with the variation that the guy either saws off his own head on a bet, or as an accident, or as the most incredibly gruesome (and honestly kind of awesome) form of suicide possible.

But honestly, is this even physically possible?

The Truth:

Apparently so.

David Phyall, a 50-year-old British man, really really didn't want to leave his apartment block, which was set to be demolished. Alternative accommodations were offered to him 11 times, but David just wasn't taking. One by one, all his neighbors moved out, leaving him the sole holdout rattling around in a condemned apartment building all on his own.

Something had to give and it turned out that something was going to be David's vertebrae. See, he had a plan that was definitely going to cost him his safety deposit, and make a hell of a chore for the cleaning staff. David tied a chainsaw to the leg of a table, laid down with his neck against it, set the saw on a 15-minute timer, then took a stiff drink.

David's plan, and head, went off without a hitch.


Phyall's apartment block. We're thinking maybe he overreacted a little.

A superior asked the police Sergeant that found David if discovering the body was a shock to him. "In some ways it was sir," replied the Sergeant reportedly.

He was promptly fined by the British police for being too bloody excitable and not showing proper stiff upper-lippishness in the line of duty.

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2
Shrunken Heads

The Legend:

Head shrinking has been the subject of legend, jokes and old Looney Tunes sight gags for ages, but the practice couldn't actually be real, could it? It's just one more bit of bullshit white people made up about folks a shade darker than them, right? Well...

The Truth:

Head shrinking was in fact a real thing, practiced mainly by tribes located around the Amazon River basin. For those looking to throw the perfect head shrinking party, here's the recipe:

Make a cut on the back of the head, then painstakingly peel all the skin and flesh from the skull. Sew the eyes and mouth shut, then boil the flesh up good, dry it with hot rocks, then mold it back into a head-like shape. Viola! A handy miniature version of the guy you nailed with that arrow last week! While head shrinking was real, it was quite rare even amongst the tribes that practiced it, that is until collecting shrunken heads became the Pogs of the late 19th century. The shrunken head trade actually became big business, with numerous South American and Polynesian tribes (most of whom never shrunk heads in the first place) going to war with one another just to collect heads.

In a tactic that was amazingly dickish even by white people's extraordinarily low standards when it came to dealing with natives, traders would give the tribes guns in exchange for the shrunken heads, ensuring a steady supply of new product.


Pictured: A large collection of shrunken heads and one horrible human being.

The sale of shrunken heads continued in the United States for years until it was finally officially outlawed sometime in the 1940s. Yes, as late of the 40s people still thought it was cool to trade human face jerky. By the way, wondering what price was put on a human life back then? How about 25 bucks a pop?

1
The Body Farm

The Legend:

There are tales of isolated patches of land, covered with unburied corpses. Some of them posed, or even stuffed in car trunks, all rotting in the midday sun. Is there a serial killer on the loose? Has the gravediggers' union gone on strike again?

The Truth:

It's real, and it's completely legal.

You won't see much mention of this on CSI since it would take away from the usual 30-minutes devoted to David Caruso putting on and/or removing his sunglasses, but body farms are becoming an increasingly important tool for forensic scientists. These patches of land have bodies scattered over them by scientists so they can study how bodies decay under a variety of conditions.

Think checking out the local body farm sounds like a fun weekend excursion? Well if you live around Knoxville, Tennessee; San Marcos, Texas; or Cullowhee, North Carolina, you're in luck, because that's where the country's three body farms are located.

The one found in Knoxville is the oldest and most elaborate, covering two and a half acres and containing 40 to 50 bodies at any one time. If there's not one near you yet, just wait, as scientists are looking to start new body farms faster than Wal-Mart opens new stores, with some hoping for a future with a body farm in every state.

Please enjoy this video of a kindly, grandfatherly type showing off his collection of molding cadavers and discussing wearing human skin gloves.

Nathan Birch also writes the always disgustingly cute webcomic Zoology.

Do you have something funny to say about a random topic? You could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow. Go here and find out how to create a Topic Page.

With Halloween right around the corner, allow us to show you some costumes to avoid in 20 Costumes That Will Earn You a Halloween Beating and The 30 Most Unsettling German Halloween Costumes.

And stop by our Top Picks to see our shrunken head collection (provided by our interns).

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