While a knife-wielding homicidal maniac in a ghastly white mask otherwise known as Michael Myers might have been the embodiment of the boogeyman to the kids of Haddonfield when he first stalked their babysitters 40 years ago, some boogeymen around the world don't even need a mask.
Even the Halloween franchise's Myers would willingly run straight into that police car if faced with one of these boogeymen from around the world. What if he'd realized one of the trees scattered about Haddonfield was actually a skeletal figure seeking fresh meat? Or what if he were being chased by an anthropomorphic reptile that could chomp his head clean off?
Boogeymen take many different forms around the world, and while some can be bought with candy and booze and others can be exorcized, there are those who will stop at nothing to grab some sweet, sweet human flesh.
From hairy, creepy things that kill you in your sleep to ghosts that will gladly bring you to the other side with them, these cryptids may invade your darkest fears this close to Halloween — so you'd better read this with the lights on.
Baba Yaga (Russia)
Baba Yaga is anything but a basic witch. She doesn’t ride around on a broom and sip pumpkin lattes.
This powerful sorceress lives in a creepy chicken-legged hut deep in the shadows of the forest. The hut can — surrounded by a fence of human bones and skulls with flaming red eyes — even get around on its own if she doesn’t feel like flying her mortar and pestle to whoever she wants to terrorize. On top of a sentient house, she also has an entourage of shrieking ghosts at her disposal, three apocalyptic horsemen, and a wizard suspiciously similar to Rasputin that follow her wherever she goes.
No, this is not the creature from Harry Potter that turns into your worst nightmare and can be neutralized by the incantation "Riddikulus!" For this "real-world" boggart, Potterheads should imagine a cross between a poltergeist, a troll, and a house-elf.
Boggarts are the real things that go bump in the night, and while they don't necessarily morph into Professor Snape, they are shapeshifters that can appear wildly different (probably depending on what keeps you up at night). Just don’t name a boggart or prepare to have your stuff thrown around and smashed.
Would you rather be in by curfew or get swallowed by a vicious crocodile woman?
The Cuca is a humanoid croc who only needs to sleep once every seven years but is hungry for children who refuse to go to bed when their parents insist. When not hunting kids who stay up too late, she can usually be found in her cave, conjuring potions. Just don’t set off her temper or else she will roar loud enough to wake everyone within a 10-mile radius.
She was originally thought to be a dragon (or coca, which explains her name) until she eventually took on the form of a crocodile with better hair days than most people.
What would you do if you had to face a chimera with the head, face, and left hand of a monkey, the horns of a mountain goat, the chest of a turtle, a massive lobster claw for a right hand, one leg from a donkey and the other from a panther, a huge scorpion tail, writhing snakes for hair, and flaming spit for eyes? Probably scream until you busted a vocal cord.
By the way, the snakes are poisonous and will sink their fangs into anyone who gets too close. If that patchwork coat it's wearing looks suspicious, that would be because the H'awouahoua has Ed Gein inclinations to sew its clothing from the skin of naughty children it's devoured.
The anti-Santa Claus who became the star of his own self-titled 2015 horror movie has been all over German Christmas cards and holiday chocolates for years.
Responsible for all the children unworthy of Santa Claus, this demonic entity was dreamed up in the image the devil — or at least what Germans imagine the devil to look like. He runs around in heavy chains and slings a burlap sack over his shoulder for stuffing all those delicious, naughty kids in. They might be drowned or whisked away to hell, depending on what you believe. The ones who luck out will get whipped with sticks or find sticks instead of presents under the tree.
La Llorona (Mexico)
Whatever you do, don't follow a ghostly woman with a white gown and flowing black hair to the riverbank.
La Llorona, which means "Weeping Woman" in Spanish, is the earthbound spirit of a woman named Maria who drowned her children and is now cursed to spend an eternity looking for them in every creek and river. It kind of serves her right if you believe the legend that says she drowned her own sons in order to keep partying, though another legend claims she drowned them out of revenge against her serial cheater of a husband.
Kids who are out too late should stay away from rivers or they might find themselves dragged to a watery grave.
The Haitian answer to Slenderman is more ghoulish than any Creepypasta.
Legs over two stories long probably make Slenderman look like a common house spider. Mètminwi's name loosely translates from French to "master of midnight" (a mashup of maître, or master, and minuit, midnight), and he definitely earned it due to his reputation of skulking around at the witching hour looking for people who are still outside to get his nightly fix of human flesh.
Some visions of Métminwi imagine him carrying a sack on his back for spiriting naughty children away to feast on them later. Whether he actually inspired Slenderman remains unknown.
Japanese kids have a really scary reason not to lie around on the sofa watching TV or playing video games all day. If they haven't gotten themselves on the nice list by the first full moon of the New Year, they will have to face a fanged, horned, creature with blue or angry red skin and a huge knife knocking on their door, asking if there are any lazy or misbehaving children around. The Namahage will happily grab their victims and keep going from door to door until they’ve collected all the naughty children.
Namahage may be the stuff of legend, but in northern Japan, it is a New Year's tradition for young men dressed up as these demons will go knocking around and asking if there are any insolent young ones. While that might give kids a good scare, these masked Namahage will reward offerings of cake and sake with prayers for health and fortune in the year ahead.
Tokoloshe (South Africa)
You can’t flee from what cannot be seen, and while the Tokoloshe is a water sprite that could be Gollum's hairier, long-lost cousin, it can make itself invisible by drinking water. Wizards who practice black magic are said to summon them to do anything from freaking out children (no surprise there) to bringing on illness and even death.
The most terrifying thing about a Tokoloshe might be how it comes into being, which involves taking the eyes and tongue out of a corpse and stabbing its skull with an iron rod to shrink it. A magical powder blown into its mouth brings it to life. At least these things can be exorcized.