Zombies or Ghouls?

All Hallow’s Eve.  Lost, we creep along a dark road toward a lighted porch. A chilly wind rushes past, dry leaves dancing in its wake.  We shiver.  Is it the cold?  Or is it fear?  A dog howls. We hear rustling in the brush. 

“Hurry!”  We almost reach the porch.  My foot is on the step.  The porch light begins to flicker.  Behind us, the rustling becomes shuffling and scratching.  I turn to see horrifying creatures descending upon us, staggering, groaning, screeching, grunting, howling and hungry.  “Let us in,” we bang on the door.

What are these monsters?  Zombies! We’re doomed.

Zombies have taken over the scary scene, devouring all of the other frightening creatures in the night.  Ghosts, vampires, witches?  Old news. There are even acting and make-up classes for zombies to get that just-dead look in the eyes and the right amount of blood dripping from the mouth. 

But what is a zombie?  Popular culture says it’s a flesh-eating re-animated dead person.  But the original flesh-eating creature is the ghoul, from the Arabic ghul, which means “to seize.”  A ghoul is an evil spirit or revived corpse that robs graves and feeds on human corpses.

Zombies traditionally weren’t cannibals.  Zombie refers to the “living dead” who were revived by sorcerers, according to folklore.  Others never died but had their souls stolen by evil magicians.  Zombies are docile, have glassy, empty eyes and lack will, memory or emotion.  They aren’t the flesh-thirsty demons of the movies.  A neurotoxin from a saltwater fish, called tetrodotoxin, can also induce a zombie-like state and may have led to some zombie stories.

Why are people so fascinated with zombies.?  Could it be that their vacant humanity can be more frightening than any alien monster?  The worst zombie (actually a ghoul) is someone you once loved who has now turned on you. Who can’t relate to that horror?  Scores of books and movies have been written and made on the subject. Last year, a nephew requested “The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead” for Christmas.  You never know when a zombie might show up looking for more than a turkey leg.

To sort out the differences, history and legends, go to Zombies and Ghouls.


Filed under Books, Entertainment, History, Humor, Life, Movies, Personal, Random

8 responses to “Zombies or Ghouls?

  1. Ohhh, Beauty behind horror.

  2. alwaysjan

    I went on Flickr looking for a photo of a zombie when I wrote my post “In-Flight Madness – Trying to Sleep at 30,000 Feet” about our flight to England. I couldn’t believe the thousands of photos of people made up as zombies. There was even an annual “Zombie Walk” in one city. For some, getting dressed up as the living dead was a family affair. How could I have overlooked this opportunity to bond with my sons?

    I’m not sure that this would have been such a great family bonding experience for me. My kids didn’t even like me to change my voice when I was reading to them, because it wasn’t “me” any more, so perhaps it is better that we didn’t try this.

    There’s a zombie walk in Lawrence that might be fun participating in. I could be a great zombie, cause I have no acting skills whatsover and naturally stumble around.

  3. I was getting into the story cathy! More please…
    I’m not sure what the fascination for the zombie/ghoul thing is – I’m still a boring old witch, sorcerer and ghost-spirit sort of person. I had no idea there were special make-up and acting classes for them – or is it in reality what we’re turning into? Blanked out and empty or insatiably voracious?

    Paula, I can’t wait to find out what happened to me, too…..I need to do more thinking about it.

    Kids seem to like zombies because there’s nothing scarier than a friend turning into a monster, plus you don’t need to be a great actor to portray one. In fact, the more “dead” you are, the better! Some moviemakers have used zombies as a metaphor for modern life that turns people into mindless, insatiable consumers. It’s no coincidence that some zombie movies have taken place in malls.

  4. Carolina Maine

    Thriller played in my mind as I read this!
    Nice post. I can relate to the ending:)

    It’s true. You never know whether a ghoul (or is it a zombie?) will show up demanding something to eat, so always set an extra place at the table……

  5. That photo is a little disturbing (makeup I mean)… 😆

    Gott’a love a good Zombie movie, though most nowadays are of the ehh-variety, the actual concept of re-animated humans has always been disturbing to me. Cryogenics is one thing (which I’m sort’a fine with), but trying to bring back the dead can have some SERIOUS consequences…

    …I mean can you imagine Elvis fans if they saw Elvis moaning about again? shutter 😆 …

  6. Thank GOD, zombies can never take over ghosts, wraiths, poltergeists, spectres, or any incorporeal undead creatures. Zombies have taken over such an awesome night attackers such as vampires, ghouls, mummies, revenants, werewolves and every corporeal undead creatures.

  7. Ghouls win!!!!!!!! zombies drool.

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