Terrifying Superstitions in Horror Cinema

There are many theories as to why Friday the 13th has become synonymous with bad luck, but we don’t want to jinx ourselves by pondering the reasons. Instead, we’re looking at ten films that play on our superstitious beliefs revolving around urban legends and other cringe-worthy folklore — and there’s no genre that does it better than horror. Each film forces upon its protagonists a gateway to their nightmarish anxieties, usually by way of something like a book, a name, or a sound. Once the dark harbingers grab hold, all the four-leaf clovers, horseshoes, and number sevens in the world can’t help them. Feel lucky this Friday the 13th by checking out our unfortunate bunch past the break.


Apparently Virginia Madsen didn’t get the memo about the age-old Bloody Mary game, which requires its players to bravely call the name of the supernatural entity several times while gazing into a mirror in a darkened room. Madsen does just that in 1992’s Candyman. Trading the tale of a baby-murderer for an urban anxiety legend about a woman in a public housing project that couldn’t get 911 to come to her rescue, Bernard Rose’s film twists the terrifying myth onto his leading lady. Eventually Madsen’s character finds herself evading a dream-like figure while her life transforms into an uncanny version of the frightening story.