These Terrifying ‘Cucuy’ Sketches Will Remind You How Your Parents Were Mad Geniuses
Growing up, “El Cuco” (or El Cucuy, Coco) was the go-to “boogieman” used by adults to keep kids in line. I was a troublemaker, so my grandma always used El Cuco as a threat to try to get me to sleep. “Si no te duermes, viene El Cuco a llevarte,” my grandma would say, turning out my light. She was a single parent using every tool in her belt to keep me in line. Sometimes it was a belt, sometimes it was El Cuco.
However, she never truly explained to me exactly what this mysterious “Cuco” looked like. By asking around, I found that everyone had a pretty unique, even if sometimes similar, idea of what El Cuco looked like to them. And that’s probably the point. If you tell a kid something is coming to get them and give no description their mind will auto-fill with literally the most terrifying thing they can come up with. And for parents struggling to find something more threatening than themselves, the imagination of a child can do wonders. No chancla necessary.
We had our in-house police sketch artist draw up the suspects, so that you too can be on the lookout for these creatures. These are some of the terrors that the mitú staff dreamt up as kids.
Alex Zaragoza (Editor) envisioned El Cucuy as a tall, Slender Man-like figure.
Alex said, “For me, El Cucuy was a creepy demonic figure. Tall and dark, with a creepy robe. Its face was pale with big dark eyes, shallow cheeks, and thin lips. Very big and looming, but lanky.” She revealed that her creature appeared in two separate instances for her:
“I was most scared right when I got in bed. If I misbehaved or messed around with ghost stuff, my mom would say ‘Vas a ver, cabrona. Te van a jalar las patas en la noche.’ So I would sleep curled up into a ball and with my whole body covered except for a little space over my nose and mouth so I could breathe. I was petrified of having my feet pulled and dragged under the bed. The other instance, which still freaks me out, is any time I was in a bathroom in front of the mirror. I was (and still am) terrified of looking up from washing my face to find El Cucuy or some other scary figure standing behind me.”
Jorge Rodriguez (Writer) had a werewolf-like creature follow him in the dark.
Jorge revealed that to him, El Cucuy was tall and slender with large, knobby elbows and knees. “He is covered in hair like a werewolf but has the face of a demon with large, sharp teeth and he has big claws on his hands and feet.” What he feared most was getting caught by El Cucuy in the dark, saying, “Didn’t matter if I was outside or inside, when it got dark, I assumed El Cucuy was lurking in the shadows all the time.”
Katherine Mendoza (Video Producer) had a mini-Cucuy waiting for her in the hallways.
To Katherine, El Cuco looked like a short, husky creature. “He had a square hat and wore all black. He had no face and a long robe but I’m sure if I needed to explain what he physically looked like it would be very much like Warwick Davis in the 1993 Leprechaun.” Like many parents, Katherine’s mom used it as a threat.
“My mom always threatened to call El Cuco on me but I was wise enough to know she didn’t have that type of pull. For the most part, I was terrified of seeing him on my way to the bathroom when all the lights were off. I had a really long hallway, the kind that required two light switches, so I would turn one on but still had the take the quick journey to the next light to make sure that he wouldn’t appear. It felt like he was always waiting for me before I had a chance to handle my business. I swore I would spend my final days as ‘The niña who pee’d on herself,’ or worse, ‘The niña that caca’d her panties.'”
Lucy Flores (VP of Public Affairs) had a Cucuy that couldn’t get through customs.
Lucy was very clear with her descriptions:
I would describe El Cucuy as a muscular, male, black or dark grey figure that looks similar to a demon as portrayed in biblical propaganda but has features like a chupacabra. So the Cucuy is slightly hunched over with a slightly rounded back (like a werewolf) but has a human demon face with horns (like the devil) and has smallish legs (like the chupacabra). He is fast. And strong, and has terrifying sharp teeth. And will rip you to shreds with his clawed hands if you don’t eat all your food. (The punishment doesn’t seem to fit the crime, but Latino parents tend to exaggerate your trespasses).
But what’s most interesting about her Cucuy was that he grew stronger when he was home in Mexico. She told me:
I was most scared during my trips to Mexico. For some reason I always felt like El Cucuy spent far more time in Mexico then he did in the U.S. I was scared of every single dark situation anywhere in Mexico. But when I was home in the U.S., El Cucuy was only frightening when your family reminded you he would come for something you did or were doing. But in Mexico, it didn’t matter if you did anything bad or not – that was his home so you better watch your back.
Jessica Garcia’s (Writer) Cucuy was made extra scary by the way her mom said it.
Jessica explained to me how her mother turned El Cucuy from scary to terrifying by the way she said it. “I imagined the Cucuy to be an evil entity. The way my mom pronounced it, “Cucuuuuuyyyyy,” made me think he was an evil ghost. Like one of those scary dementors from Harry Potter. All in black, you cant see his face.”
Like many of us, Jessica was most scared of El Cucuy when it became dark. “I was mostly scared of him at night. I hated going outside at night in the dark to throw out the trash. I would run back super fast because I swore he was gonna creep up on me. Pretty much any time it was dark and I was alone, that was when I was most scared of him.”
Gina Apestegui (Brand Producer) found herself not just scared of El Cucuy, but where he’d take her and what he’d do to her.
Gina’s boogieman sounded a lot like Jessica’s: “El Cucuy was a floating ghost with a black mantle. He or she had big yellow eyes. Imagine Harry Potter’s dementor with large cartoonish yellow eyes.”
She was most scared of what El Cucuy would do to her. And it seems like she let her imagination run wild:
“I always had to have the door closed. Since I didn’t have a closet in my room, I thought El Cucuy would come from dark parts of my room, the shadowy part of the curtain or the from the pool of black cast by my stuffed animal. After watching “Child’s Play,” I couldn’t go to the bathroom to pee in the middle of the night because I thought Chuckie would grab me by the butt and suck me into the toilet forever taking me into the sewers of NYC… and maybe turning me into a Ninja Turtle.”
Because I didn’t believe in monsters, my mind picked the scariest thing it knew to fill the terrifying void in my mind.
For me, it was Lou Ferrigno’s version of “The Hulk.” Green skin, hair, mushroom cut, bulging muscles, angry expression, yellow teeth, white eyes and just always waiting to grab me. It felt scarier that a tall, muscle-bound creature could do more damage than a ghost. Like, this guy could punch my face in and I wouldn’t be able to do anything about it — that’s real fear.
He was always just coming out from under my bed. For some reason, it was always just his torso, almost as if he’d jumped through the floor from below and half of him was still underneath. I’d make deals with him in my mind. If I could make it to my bed in three seconds after switching off my bedroom light, he’d have to leave me alone. On the days that I lost that race, the deal was that I had to sleep completely covered by my sheet from head to toe. I’d fall asleep covered up and eventually, unable to breathe, would take the blanket off in my sleep.