What is it about audio that makes it 100 percent spookier than film? I don’t know about you, but I think sound is capable of capturing the imagination and leaving us breathless with fear in a way that no other sense can manage. All the best horror films only work because of their peerless sound engineering. Think about it: if you’ve ever had the unfortunate experience of trying to sleep when you can hear the sounds of vermin like mice scratching at the walls, you’ll know how maddeningly creepy simple noises and sounds can be.
So if you’re in the mood for a long and lasting scare then look no further than the following list, where we’ve compiled some of the most frightening audio recordings to be found online. Fair warning; some listeners will find the contents of these recordings extremely distressing, so due caution is advised.
1. The Enfield Poltergeist
The Enfield Poltergeist was an alleged haunting which took place in a council house in Enfield, England, between the years of 1977 and 1979. Single parent Peggy Hodgson reported a number of inexplicable phenomena in her house, including levitating furniture, knocking noises in the walls, thrown objects, and demonic voices. The following is an audio recording of Maurice Grosse, a member of the Psychical Research Society, speaking to Janet Hodgson, the daughter of Peggy. Janet reported that she had been possessed by an “entity” and can be heard speaking in a deep, gravelly, middle-aged voice, quite unlike that of an 11-year-old girl. Numerous skeptics have since dismissed the case as a hoax or prank played by the Hodgson children, but this recording remains haunting nonetheless.
2. Aztec death whistle
These frightening skull-shaped whistles were carved from wood by the ancient Aztec people of Mexico. The curious acoustic properties of these instruments produce a noise that sounds eerily like a human screaming, and archeologists and anthropologists have speculated that the sound of these whistles might have accompanied human sacrifices.
3. The Jonestown suicide tape
In 1978, notorious cult leader Jim Jones ordered all 918 disciples of the radical leftist People’s Temple to commit mass suicide by drinking poisoned Kool-Aid in their base in Jonestown, Guyana. This incident occurred after the Port Kaituma Airstrip shootings, in which Jones ordered his followers to snipe at Congressman Leo Ryan, as well as several other public servants and NBC reporters. In retaliation, the FBI, which had been investigating Jim Jones on charges of alleged human rights violations, attempted to arrest Jones. The FBI recovered the following audio recording, in which Jones can be heard ordering his followers to preempt an arrest and to take their own lives. What followed would be the greatest loss of American civilian life until the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
It’s about to get much creepier…
4. Operation Wandering Souls
Operation Wandering Soul was a propaganda campaign exercised by American forces during the Vietnam War, which exploited an ancient Vietnamese belief in the “wandering soul”- a phenomenon in which the spirits of unburied corpses would wander the Earth in a state of pain and anguish. Army engineers spent weeks recording creepy sounds and altered voices, which were intended to terrify the Viet Kong, sow fear and confusion, and redirect troops. Helicopters were sometimes employed to broadcast recordings, and in some, the spliced and doctored recordings pleaded for the communist troops to surrender.
5. Tornado siren
The awful dins made by warning sirens are often designed by sound engineers to be as unsettling and discordant as possible, and this Tornado siren sounding off in Miles City, Montana, is no exception. If anyone lives in a state where severe weather is a routine problem, then these wailing sirens will induce immediate anxiety and distress.
6. The Original Night Stalker
The Original Night Stalker is a media epithet for an unidentified serial killer and serial rapist who committed 50 rapes in Northern California during the mid-1970s and murdered twelve people in Southern California from 1979 through 1986. This is the recording of one of the victim’s answering machine, which the police believe to be the original night stalker.
The next murderer is one of the most notorious killers, whose distressed 911 calls led to his eventual arrest…
7. The Weepy-Voiced Killer
“Don’t talk: just listen.” These were the chilling words that would introduce Paul Michael Stephani’s telephone tirades on emergency service dispatch lines. Stephani was a serial murderer, nicknamed “The Weepy-Voiced Killer” by the press, who would typically phone the police and anonymously confess to his horrific homicides in a tear-stricken falsetto. In these audio recordings, Stephani can be heard hysterically crying that he was unable to help himself from murdering the three women he was later incarcerated for killing. It’s unknown whether or not he was suffering from schizophrenia, and was truly unable to stop himself from slaying innocent women, or if his phone calls are characteristic of a histrionic sociopath.
8. The Art Bell Show caller
In 1997, syndicated radio talk show host Art Bell received a phone call from a young man in a state of extreme distress. Art Bell’s radio show commonly discussed supernatural or paranormal subjects, and other conspiracy theorists had phoned his station in the past. This time, however, Bell was contacted by someone who claimed to be a government employee and had formerly worked at Area 51. The man can be heard becoming progressively more frantic, and the conversation culminates in the show going temporarily off the air due to a satellite failure. The man alleges that extra-dimensional beings “have infiltrated a lot of aspects of the military establishment”. Comic book writer Bryan J. L. Glass alleges that he was the caller and that it was a hoax, but many still believe in the legitimacy of the phone call.
9. Kevin Cosgrove’s 9/11 phone call
These are the final moments of Kevin Cosgrove, an insurance business executive who worked in the World Trade Centre and perished during 9/11. In a phone call made to emergency services, Cosgrove can be heard describing the fire and the chaos in his office, shortly before a rumbling sound can be heard as the building falls apart. Cosgrove had enough time to scream “Oh God! Oh!—” before his line was cut off as the South Tower collapsed into rubble. This recording was used to convict Zacarias Moussaoui, one of the main conspirators in the terrorist attack.
With the threat of nuclear war seemingly growing every day, have you ever wondered what you’d hear?
10. A nuclear attack emergency broadcast
This four-minute warning is one of the emergency announcements that will be broadcast in the event of a nuclear strike. If a nuclear strike is imminent, these public service announcements will play on certain frequencies, urging viewers at home to find shelter and avoid nuclear fallout. Most of these emergency warnings have been discontinued in the 1990s, as tensions from the Cold War have relaxed somewhat.
11. An audio representation of schizophrenia
This audio recording is designed to simulate the experience of someone living with auditory hallucinations provoked by schizophrenia. People who suffer from schizophrenia often report hearing malicious voices taunting them, or compelling them to perform actions that feel out of their control. Schizophrenics often fail to realise that the compelling and sometimes derogatory voices are creations of their own mind, and may spend years hearing them without realising that they are sick.
12. Ruth Price 911 phone call
Mrs. Ruth Price was an elderly woman who lived alone. When she noticed a prowler outside her home, she dialled 911 and asked for immediate help. Price was known for by dispatchers for calling for innocuous reasons, and was regarded as paranoid by emergency services. Nevertheless, when she made this call to 911, something terrifying happened. Before she could give the police dispatcher her address, an unknown assailant entered her room and surprised her. Price dropped the phone, but her frantic screams were captured on tape while she was beaten to death before law enforcement could arrive.
Pretty spooky, right? I think I’ll be sleeping with the lights on tonight. But if you’re the kind of person that only gets startled by sight and not sounds, then don’t worry! We have even more content that is guaranteed to scare you witless and make you brown your pants in terror. If you don’t believe me, then check out this article detailing the 15 most horrifying real-life moments ever caught on video.