Ghouls


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Ghouls

(pop culture)

The ghoul, a traditional monster frequently associated with the vampire, originated as part of Arabic folklore. It played a part in several tales in the Arabian Knights. Ghouls represented a more demonic aspect of the world of jinns, the spirits of Arabic mythology. The Arabic ghul (masculine) and ghulah (feminine) lived near graves and attacked and ate human corpses. It was also believed that ghouls lived in desolated places where they would attack unsuspecting travelers who mistook the ghoul for a traveling companion and were led astray. Ghul-I-Beában was a particularly monstrous ghoul believed to inhabit the wilderness of Afghanistan and Iran. Marco Polo, reflecting on the accounts of ghouls he had heard about during his travels, suggested that ghouls, gryphons (an imaginary animal, part eagle, part lion), and good faith were three things people frequently referred to but did not exist.

The ghoul returned to popular culture in the twentieth-century through a multitude of monster movies. New ghouls were similar to vampires because they were reanimated dead people in humanoid form. The ghoul, however, ate human flesh, while the vampire drank blood. The ghoul also acted with neither a will nor intellect, and seemed to have somewhat derived from the zombie—the figure in Haitian folklore reportedly brought back to life by magic and destined to work in the service of the person who brought it back to “life.” One nineteenth-century case, that of François Bertrand, was a popular example of ghoulish behavior. Bertrand, a noncommissioned officer in the French Army, was arrested after he entered and desecrated several tombs in Paris. He was convicted and sentenced to a lengthy term in prison in 1849 after confessing to an overwhelming compulsion to tear the corpses of women and girls to pieces. His story later became the basis of a popular novel, The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore.

Modern ghouls, really a ghoul/zombie mixture, made definitive appearances in two movies directed by George Romero: Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1979). Romero acknowledged that the numerous vampires of Richard Matheson‘s 1954 novel, I Am Legend, inspired his “living dead.” Night of the Living Dead pictured the dead returning to life by some form of radiation and eating their fellow humans. The ghouls walked slowly, were limited in their actions, and were destroyed by a bullet or sharp blow to the head. Although they could be killed relatively easily, in packs they could simply overwhelm individuals and small groups, such as those trapped in the farmhouse in the movie. Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead seemed to have inspired a group of Italian movies featuring a variation on Romero’s ghoul/zombie as exemplified in Umberto Lenzi’s City of the Walking Dead (1983).

The ghoul, in a somewhat different form, has been given new life in the 1990s through Vampire: The Masquerade the popular role-playing game. In the mythology of the game, ghouls are people who have received some vampire blood, hence have attained a degree of immortality, but have not gone through the full Embrace which would make them a vampire. They are servants of the vampires and can be most helpful as they easily move about in the daytime.

The ghoul is a rare creature in Western popular culture, though its cousin the zombieenjoyed extensive revival in the 1990s. It has been integrated into White Wolf’s game, Vampire: The Eternal Struggle, and a modest number of fictional writings, most designed for a teen or younger audience have appeared. R. L. Stine has written several ghoul stories in his juvenile series.

Sources:

Barber, Richard, and Anne Riches. A Dictionary of Fabulous Beasts. New York: Walker and Company, 1971. 167 pp.
Russell, W. M. S., and Claire Russell. “The Social Biology of Werewolves.” In J. R. Porter and W. M. S. Russell. Animals in Folklore. Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Littlefield, 1978, 143–182.
Waller, George A. The Living and the Undead: From Stoker’s Dracula to Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois press, 1986. 378 pp.
References in periodicals archive ?
In this alternate reality, ghouls mingle with modern society and look no different than regular people, except that they only have the appetite for human flesh.
Teaming up with a bunch of kids, he takes on a series of ghouls, including a gigantic praying mantis and an evil dummy.
Finally got our rewards Steven Boddy @stevenboddy Hard task breaking down 11 men but patience is the virtue and class shone through SPIKE11 @SpikeArmstrong Frustrating first hour for the Reds with more possession than a Halloween ghoul, once Nugent struck, it was goals not ghouls Richard B @RunningRich67 A devilsh performance sees Boro ghost past Charlton, three ghouls to nil - witch was a treat for fans Schteve Dennis @Dendog_UK 16h16 No Halloween scares, never in doubt once the first goal went in.
Witches, ghouls, a creepy clown who goes by the name of Pennywise, skeletons and other freaks have taken over the straw-covered front and back garden.
One of the Nameless Ghouls of the band stated that the "a**hole" singer has not been working out for them and they are thinking a collaboration with Conchita Wurst, a Eurovision Song Contest winner.
HALLOWEEN revellers hit the streets of Derry last night with ghouls of all shapes and sizes enjoying a parade with a difference.
The slacker pop and folk of Ghouls is real muck under the fingernails fare - at once barren and untamed, while maintaining strange warmth beneath rough, cracked vocals.
Ghosts, Ghouls and Witches It's Halloween Ghosts and ghouls abound Creeping about Making eerie sounds Witches gather In a woodland glade Cauldron bubbling Spells to be made Frogs legs and spiders webs Moss and herbs to All go into the melting pot To make this witches brew Whispering voices Muted sounds The rest of the coven All gather round Trouble brewing The night draws on Darkening skies Moonlight gone The wood alive Spirits abound Dark shadows Moving around Ghosts and ghouls Witches galore Start knocking On village doors With painted faces Their pumpkins aglow Children put on A Halloween show.
This week, captain Mark Hudson and Andrew Taylor joined in the fun at a Down's Syndrome Awareness Day, while Anthony Gerrard, Filip Kiss and Solomon Taiwo met fans during a ghouls and ghosts afternoon at the Cardiff City Stadium Superstore.
Victoria Laurie's GHOULS, GHOULS, GHOULS (9780451231970, $7.
From ghosts and ghouls to gruesome tucker, Cadbury World is hosting a spook-tacular line-up of activities.
Eight Eldorado County deputies screeched up posthaste, and at first glance, it seemed the reports were true: a gruesome group of gangrenous-lookin' ghouls with huge gaping wounds and protruding broken bones were indeed mauling a screamin' female.