The Most Terrifying Latino Urban Legends, Illustrated

And you thought your nightmares were bad. 馃槺
Jake Reeves

To many people, Halloween is all about black and orange themed decorations, pumpkin carvings and sure, a few favorite horror flicks.

But for those who want to be truly terrified, Latin American folklore has a much more sinister take on horror. There are some absolutely grotesque and horrifying stories to fill your celebrations (and nightmares) floating around. But these stories aren't just about people's active imaginations, some are actually known to make headlines as people continually find "evidence" of their existence.

To really bring horror back this Halloween, we compiled 6 of the most terrifying tales in Latin American and Latino folklore. And in the dead spirit of bringing these characters to life, we also decided to illustrate them. Take a look below:

El Chupacabra
Jake Reeves
El Chupcabra, which literally translates to "goat sucker," is arguably the most famous Latino urban legend out there. That's partly due to how often people report "sightings" of the creature all across the Western Hemisphere, including the southern United States.

El Chupacabra is said to have both vampiric and lizard-like features. He is mostly known for sucking the blood out of livestock, though some say he also attacks and kills small animals like dogs and cats.

In 2010, scientists offered a simple explanation for the legend of the Chupacabra. These mythical monsters, they said, are likely just coyotes suffering from severe cases of mange. But, who knows...?
La Ciguapa
Jake Reeves
These nymph-like creatures supposedly live in the caves and forests of the Dominican Republic's mountainous regions, and they communicate with a distinctive wail.

A Ciguapa is described as having dark or blue skin with slanted black eyes, long lustrous hair she uses to cover her body and backward facing feet. They are nocturnal and are said to have a hunting spirit, looking for wandering men.

With their magic and their beauty they seduce the men that cross their path -- some say they kill and eat their victims, while others think they simply make them disappear.
La Llorona
Jake Reeves
There is a vivid story behind how La Llorona ("The Weeping Woman") came to haunt rivers and canals.

She's said to have been a poor peasant girl who fell in love with a rich nobleman, and the two had three children together. When the girl wished to marry the nobleman, he refused because their children had been born out of wedlock.

To be with the man she loved, the girl drowned her children in a river. When she told the nobleman what she'd done he still refused her and married another. Filled with grief, the girl drowned herself. But because of her crime she was cursed to roam rivers and canals looking for her children for all eternity.

They say you can hear her wailing and weeping as she desperately calls out "Ayy mis hijos...!" Children are warned not to wander out at night for fear La Llorona might confuse them for her own and take them away. She is also known as an omen of death to those who see her.
El Silb贸n
Jake Reeves
The legend of el Silb贸n (the Whistler) comes from Venezuela and Colombia. It's the story of a young spoiled boy who asked his father to get him some venison for dinner.

While his father was away, the boy grew impatient and went looking for him. When he found him and saw him empty handed, he killed him. He then took his father's entrails to his mother to cook for dinner, without her knowing.

After noticing how tough the meat was, she realized it belonged to her husband and she cursed her son for all eternity. Some accounts say she then called his grandfather who physically punished him before having several dogs hunt the boy relentlessly.

El Silb贸n is known as an omen of death, and is described as a thin and tall ghost. He is known for his distinctive whistle that is deceiving: if you hear his whistle up close, then you are safe, but if you hear it far away that means it's likely too late for you.

He is often depicted as carrying a bag of bones, some say it's his father's bones but others say it's his victims' remains.
El Cucuy
Jake Reeves
He is a Latino mother's best ally and her child's worst nightmare.

El Cucuy (also known as El Coco, El Cuco and other similiar variations) lives under your bed, in your closet or in the darkest corner of you room -- and he will come and get you if you misbehave. Or at least that's what many Latino kids are told growing up, and in that way El Cucuy is the equivalent to the bogeyman.

The Real Academia Espa帽ola dictionary describes him as a ghost with an empty pumpkin for a head, though he has also been depicted as a vicious fanged creature in other stories.
El Sombrer贸n
Jake Reeves
True to his name, this Guatemalan mythical being wears a big black hat that covers most of his face. He is very short and is said to carry a silver guitar to serenade women with long hair and big eyes.

He is said to be obsessed with braiding, so much so that he braids the manes and tails of horses, mules and more. When there are no animals around he looks for young women whose hair he can braid.

In one account, it's said he found a beautiful woman with long hair and large eyes that he was mesmerized by, so he stood outside her balcony. Upon hearing his music, she became enthralled by him.

But her parents were not pleased. Every night el Sombrer贸n would hypnotize the girl with his music to the point where she stopped eating and sleeping. Before she went mad her parents cut her hair, which caused el Sombrer贸n to lose interest.

That's sort of a happy ending, right?

Also on HuffPost:

Non-offensive Latino-Themed Halloween Costumes

Popular in the Community