The Killer in the Back Seat

Via Pixabay

Via Pixabay

I have a notebook full of urban legends, myths, creepy pastas…topics that I haven’t covered on the blog before. The whole point is that if I can’t come up with something there’s this list I could just pick something.

I couldn’t figure out why I have no enthusiasm. Absolutely no interest in doing anything. Mid’s been eating pounds of drunken noodles because they’re fast, cheap, easy, he likes them, and did I mention they’re fast and easy?

Then I woke up with a full on head cold.

Here’s a post from 2011, that’s in line with October’s creepy theme.

Killer in the Back Seat

A woman in driving through back roads alone. It is an unfamiliar area and for most of the trip her car is the only one on the road. As it gets dark another car pulls up behind her.

The woman becomes uneasy as the following car begins to act erractically. As she speeds up and slows down the car does as well. The driver behind her begins to flash their high beams on and off.

Frightened she pulls into the first gas station she sees. The other car also pulls in. Scared, she begins to yell at the other driver demanding to know what they were trying to pull.

“Lady,” the other driver tells her, “didn’t you see the man with a knife in your backseat? Every time he sat up I flashed the lights.”

The killer in the backseat is one of the most iconic American urban legends. Dating back at least 50 years, it is theorized that it may be influenced in part by mistellings of actual events in New York City in the 1960s. Snopes puts the date of origin to be 1967. However, the story is marked by several features:

1. The first driver is always female.

2.  She is always alone.

3. She is always saved by a stranger who attempts to scare off the killer or lure her out of the car to safety.

It may be that this is such an enduring legend because it carries the hint of possibility. Unlike some legends, this one seems at least partially plausible which may make it slightly more frightening.

This legend in particular has been criticized for sexist and racist overtones because of the structure that is used to tell the tale. In almost every variation the same characters are used- a violent minority, and an ineffective female driver. That has not diminished the frequency of retelling however as the story has become email chain letters dozens of times. The story taps into fears of predation which makes it appealing as a legend.

The legend in Popular Culture:

Common enough to be a trope namer, the killer in the backseat legend carries enough appeal to inpsire numerous tv shows and movies. The movie Urban Legend plays up this legend as do other horror films. The trope was especially popular in the 1980s and 1990s though it still reappears on film in a full range of genres up to and including the Godfather (Tvtropes has a list of suggested scenes relying on this legend). The legend has enough plausibility and drama to be effective as a scare.


About those noodles. The recipe is here.


One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s