Zombies versus Ghouls, the Ultimate Showdown?

Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

Greetings! We are DAYS away from Halloween! I hope you are all as excited as I am! I also hope you've been enjoying all the zombie goodness, tacky lawn ornaments (who won best comment caption, Alicia?), horrible children costumes, and more. There's more fun to come, so stick with us!

Today I'm going to briefly talk about a creature that seems fairly similar to our friend the zombie. In fact, this creature shows up quite frequently in popular culture as well! I am referring to the Ghoul!

So what is a ghoul, and how does it compare and contrast to a zombie? Great questions! A ghoul is a mythological/folkloric creature that is said to live in graveyards and other burial grounds and survives by consuming the flesh of the living or the dead (very zombie-ish). In some instances, they are thought to be undead beings, much like a zombie. However, other popular myths classify these creatures as shapeshifting demons. A major difference to the zombie is that ghouls seem to be highly intelligent creatures and are often very tricky. With their shapeshifting qualities and their abilities to alter reality, they lure unsuspecting victims to their deaths. A far cry from ambling and moaning "brrraaiiinnnsss...."

As mentioned above, the ghoul is quite common in modern popular culture. The first recorded appearance is in the famous One Thousand and One Nights Arabic story collection. These ghouls were dessert dwelling and often took the form of animals (hyenas) to lure their prey. In modern entertainment, ghouls often appear to be human until the moment in which they reveal their true nature and begin to devour people! Recognizable appearances of ghouls in books and television are in the show Supernatural, Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book (Excellent book! Read it if you haven't), the Harry Potter series, and (SPOILER ALERT!!)......... 2001 Maniacs (another fantastic Robert Englund film, see the Sex-tacular for more on him).

Many people confuse the term 'ghoul' with 'zombie' or use it interchangeably. Although they have some similarities, they are obviously vastly different in appearance, intelligence, and their mythos. So why the confusion? It may stem partly from the grandaddy of all zombie films, yes, the original Night of the Living Dead. Many, many months ago when I wrote a Zombie Thursday blog about this film, I believe I mentioned that at no point in that film are the flesh eating creatures called 'zombies.' They are referred to as ghouls!! Thanks, Mr. Romero, for creating years of confusion and inaccuracy! Even Max Brooks, author of the Zombie Survival Guide, calls them ghouls in many cases.

So now you are a little bit wiser to the reality of zombies versus ghouls! And I hope to never catch any of you ever using the two terms incorrectly ever again!

As a final request, I would like to propose a reader poll that will help with a future blog--

What is/was the best Halloween candy you want/wanted to get during Trick or Treating? Share your thoughts on the what and why in the comments section!