Werewolf Fact of the Day

Real Zombies
ISBN: 9781578592968

What flesh-eating wraith is associated with both vampires and werewolves?

  • It has never achieved popularity in horror films.
  • Some of these creatures are considered undead, some are just unbalanced.
  • Its behavior may be explained by the wealth to be gained robbing graves.
  • It subsists on corpses.

The Awful Appetites of the Ghoul

The ghoul is often linked with the vampire and the werewolf in traditional folklore, but there are a number of obvious reasons why the entity has never attained the popularity achieved by the Frankenstein monsters, Draculas, and Wolfmen of the horror films. First and foremost is the nauseating fact that the ghoul is a disgusting creature that subsists on corpses, invading the graves of the newly buried and feasting on the flesh of the deceased. The very concept is revolting and offensive to modern sensibilities.

There are a number of different entities that are included in the category of ghoul. There is the ghoul that, like the vampire, is a member of the family of the undead, continually on the nocturnal prowl for new victims. Unlike the vampire, however, this ghoul feasts upon the flesh of the deceased, tearing their corpses from cemeteries and morgues. The ghoul more common to the waking world is that of the mentally unbalanced individual who engages in the disgusting aberration of necrophagia, eating or otherwise desecrating the flesh of deceased humans. Yet a third type of ghoul would be those denizens of Arabic folklore, the "ghul" (male) and "ghulah" (female), demonic "jinns" that haunt burial grounds and sustain themselves on human flesh stolen from graves.

Sgt. Bertrand, the infamous so-called werewolf of Paris, was really a ghoul, for rather than ripping and slashing the living, he suffered from the necrophilic perversion of mutilating the dead.

It is not difficult to envision how the legends of the ghoul and vampire began in ancient times when graves were shallow and very often subject to the disturbances of wild animals seeking carrion. Later, as funeral customs became more elaborate and men and women were buried with their jewelry and other personal treasures, the lure of easy wealth superseded any superstitious or ecclesiastical admonitions that might have otherwise kept grave robbers away from cemeteries and from desecrating a corpses' final rest.

Then, in the late 1820s, surgeons and doctors began to discover the value of dissection. The infant science of surgery was progressing rapidly, but advancement required cadavers--and the more cadavers that were supplied, the more the doctors realized how little they actually knew about the anatomy and interior workings of the human body, and thus the more cadavers they needed. As a result, societies of grave robbers were formed called the "resurrectionists." These men made certain that the corpses finding their way to the dissecting tables were as fresh as possible. And, of course, digging was easier in unsettled dirt. The great irony was that advancement in medical science help to perpetuate the legend of the ghoul.

From Real Zombies, Living Dead, and Creatures of the Apocalypse by Brad Steiger, (c) 2010 Brad Steiger The macabre history of the undead and chilling stories of real life zombie encounters.

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