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Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

La Mala Hora – Urban Legend Explored

Mexico has enough folklore and urban legends to make HP Lovecraft cancel his flight, though none are as menacing and confrontational as the dreaded La Mala Hora.

The Legend

La Mala Hora relates to The Devil’s Hour; a time many know as 3am, and a time at which one may wake suddenly for no perceptible reason with an acute sense of dread wallowing in their stomach. This uncanny hour has been associated with practice of witchcraft, imbued with great satanic significance and even held accountable for the true story of The Amityville Horror, though residents of Mexico know it as something rather more tangible, and far more horrifying. 

In 1910 the phenomenon was described by Aurelio Espinosa as a malicious entity that stalked crossroads around Mexico at night. It would hunt, torment, and even kill anyone brave enough to ignore the tales and travel home alone at such an hour. If these individuals were unfortunate enough to come across the dreaded La Mala Hora and gaze headlong into it, they would be driven hideously and irreversibly insane. Sounds like Mexico has been reading a little of Lovecraft’s work after all.

And because of this, this particular spirit is said to be more feared than the devil himself. Most of Mexico flat-out refuses to talk about it, changing the subject or simply referring to it as “an evil thing”.  

La Mala Hora takes great pleasure in driving its victims mad. Not only this, but it will often attack helpless travelers, paralyzing them in their tracks and brutalizing their weakened forms. After being suffocated by the fiend their bodies are left at the side of the road.

La Mala Hora Lady in White

In Chiapas, the southernmost state of Mexico, the insidious entity is told to take the form of a beautiful woman, sometimes dressed in white, sometimes in black. This incarnation and its diversely gruesome behaviours come across like some demented video game enemy gone rogue. When dressed in white La Mala Hora is said to be gentler and more graceful. She hypnotises weary travellers who, if they don’t notice the space between her feet and the ground, or the fact that her toes are backwards, or the fact that their lanterns have stopped working and all sense of direction seems lost, will follow her obediently into wherever peril she chooses. Perhaps this will be off the edge of a ravine, or perhaps in front of the next passing car. 

When dressed in black, La Mala Hora is more aggressive. She will stop a traveller by any means and attack directly with her pointed nails. The strong-willed should hope to meet her on a “white night,” while no one should hope to see her in black. 

One particular story has been circling the internet for quite some time, earning La Mala Hora its creepypasta certification along the way. In this story a woman goes to stay with her friend who is experiencing marital troubles. On the way she almost hits a woman in the road who, when the car stops, begins scratching fiercely at the windows in an attempt to get in. After driving away as quickly as possible, our protagonist reaches her friend who tells her frantically that she has seen La Mala Hora, the spirit who only appears when death is close. The woman then calls her husband, who she finds has been mugged and shot to death in another area. 

New Mexico Legend

On the southern border of the United States, in the state of New Mexico, La Mala Hora seems to appear much closer to Espinosa’s original description. Usually it’s seen as a black abstract form, like a fleece of wool which expands and contracts, changing size and shape and seemingly floating along the roadside. A widely feared omen, this incarnation is only told to be seen when death is soon to befall a loved one. I would imagine a lot of concerned yet apologetic phone calls taking place around 3am in Mexico. 

One thing is for sure; if I lived near any of the places that La Mala Hora is said to appear, I would doubtfully ever go out after midnight. 

References

10 Fascinating Facts About The Devil’s Hour, 3AM – Listverse

Mexican Monstresses: La Mala Hora – Multo (Ghost) (wordpress.com)

La Mala Hora: From Scary stories at Americanfolklore.net

Urban Legends And Ghost Stories: La Mala Hora (urbanlegends66.blogspot.com)

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Horror Mystery and Lore

La Noria (2018) and Our Fear of the Dark

Fear of the dark is often instigated during a person’s childhood and often causes severe symptoms of anxiety and depression–in some cases, this fear becomes a phobia, then causes an excessive and irrational impact on daily life. Nyctophobia most often starts as a childhood fear that is considered a normal part of development, but studies have shown that this is often more of a fear of a lack of visual stimuli and not the dark itself. So it’s not necessarily the dark–it’s what you can’t see in the dark–and the fears or anxieties that normally accompany a fear of the dark are the things that are normally associated with what cannot be seen. Ghosts, monsters, strange noises go hand in hand with what can be hanging around, unseen, in the darkest corners of the house and this is often paired with the anxiety of being or sleeping alone. Stressful or traumatic events, such as accidents or loss of a loved one tend to develop such phobias in the lives of people who might not otherwise fear things that are believed to be more dangerous. Overprotective or overanxious caregivers may also propagate fears, due to a guardian’s unwillingness to allow their children to experience the world at their own pace.

Even though it might sound childish to still possess a fear of the dark, it’s actually an evolutionary trait that human beings developed to survive in a world where we didn’t have the technology to illuminate the darkness. Due to our own inability to see in the dark due to poor eyesight, people were often wary of the dark, as it masked the predators that we couldn’t fend off without being able to see clearly. It didn’t help that most of these predators came out at night–even though being stalked or hunted by predators at night is more of a rarity these days, fear of the dark is still an instinctual trait that we still experience today. Most people, however, don’t have an overwhelming fear though, as it presents as a form of mild anxiety, our own clue to remain vigilant in case danger arises when we’re least expecting it.

For our ancestors, lions and other predators were among the biggest threat to their lives–but now it’s the fear of the unknown. Our imaginations run wild and fill the void with our worst fears–the things that go bump in the night. The more creative among us have invented these monsters because they allow us to come to terms with the fight-or-flight instinct that lingers on the edge of our subconscious and waits for its time to shine.

The ALTER Horror Short FIlm: La Noria (2018)

ALTER is actually a fairly prolific horror channel on YouTube, one that churns out horror shorts like there is no tomorrow. Honestly, some are amazing while others might fall short, but one that has really caught our attention recently is La Noria which they uploaded to YouTube in 2018. If you were afraid of the dark as a child, needless to say, you would probably have reacted just like the little boy depicted in this animated short.

https://youtu.be/omsgfpbUrmA

The horror genre capitalizes on the eerie darkness that stirs up our fears and anxieties–many movies focus solely on why the darkness scares us, while most of them just use it as another scare tactic that goes along with all of the other hidden fears that may have developed over the years that we have existed on this planet.

Just remember, if you’re afraid of the dark, you’re not a chicken, it just means your mind and body are just more attuned to the evolutionary traits that your ancestors have passed down that make you more fit for survival!