Has your lifetime been overwhelmed with terror tales of vampires, witches, werewolves, and zombies to the point that these overly familiar creatures are too boring to give you nightmares? Let’s face it — we’ve fallen into a repetitive freak funk, and we could really use some new ghouls to give us goosebumps. Fetus-licking bat torsos from the Philippines? Sure, why not! Corpse-craving Japanese greed ghosts? Sounds good to us! Gather ’round the campfire and lend us your ears, Halloweenies; we’ve scoured the ponds of Bohemia and the banana trees of Indonesia to bring you some of the globe’s finest frighteners. Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, we call this “The Tale of Other Cultures’ Creatures.” Read it after the jump.
Next time you smell something wonderfully fragrant followed by a putrid stench, don’t be fooled — it’s probably a Pontianak. Having died during childbirth, Pontianaks return to the earth as undead creatures who just want to feast on the flesh of easily seduced men and pregnant women. These creepy beings take the form of eerily beautiful, long-haired ladies in white gowns whose cries notoriously warn of their presence — if loud, she’s far; if soft, you’re doomed. She’ll lure you with her beauty, then dig her sharp fingernails into your stomach to feed on your innards! And rip out your sex organs! Oh, and be wary of your beloved bananas, because daytime Pontianaks tend to hide their souls in banana trees. Tasty.
Vodníci, Czech Republic/Slovakia
Have you ever felt something strange at the bottom of a pond? If you’re not sure what it was, we suggest the Vodníci, a breed of underwater ghouls who dress like vagrants and proudly store human souls in cups. That’s right — after you’ve been drowned by a Vodník, your soul is eternally doomed to his cup, the creature’s one prized possession. When a Vodník isn’t busy killing swimmers, he will often spend his time leisurely smoking tobacco, loitering, and playing cards at the water’s edge. Sounds like a fun guy to us!
Do you have an attractive, well-dressed friend who’s really into sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll? Does that friend have an affinity for H2O and disappearing for long periods of time? We hate to break it to you, but your buddy is probably an Encantado. These shape-shifting, musically inclined creatures emerge from an underwater paradisaical “Encante” to dazzle and spitefully impregnate human party-goers, occasionally kidnapping their targets and dragging them back to Encante. For this reason, Amazon River townies are often terrified to go near the water. And folks — beware of dolphins, otherwise known as Encantado in their sea-mammal form. We always knew that Flipper had a secret.
Don’t be greedy, or else you’ll be cursed to look like these guys for all of eternity. Jikininki, also known as “human-eating ghosts,” are the spirits of selfish humans who have been doomed to a post-life existence as an insatiably hungry corpse-eater. These creatures look like decomposing humans with bright eyes and claws, leaving any mortal who accidentally beholds them in a frozen, disgusted trance. Well, that’s one more reason not to hang out in cemeteries, kids.
A Manananggal is like a vampire, but with the ability to sever its torso and an appetite for fetus hearts. These terrifying, bat-winged creatures will climb in your windows, snatch your pregnant women up, and use their long, repulsive tongues to consume the sleeping woman’s blood and her fetus’s heart. But have no fear — these ghouls can be defeated by tossing salt on the lower half of the body that’s left behind when the Mananggal’s torso is off wreaking havoc on unborn babies. So, who wants to be the next Buffy the Manananggal Slayer?
Jorōgumo, which translates to “whore spider,” is a creature that — well, is pretty much just a whore spider. A shape-shifting Jorōgumo will appear as a beautiful woman, seductively lure a man into her shack, sedate him with some sweet jams on her lute, then wrap that fool in spider silk and gobble him up! Good thing Spider-man loves Mary Jane, because we wouldn’t want him associating with one of these arachnophobia-inspiring chicks.
Leshy, Eastern Europe
Here we find a Leshy; guarder of forests, hater of Man. Leshies look like humans, but can grow and shrink, befriend bears, and magically hide lumberjacks’ axes. The evil version of this species is prone to mimicking your friends’ voices, leading you into a cave, and — wait for it — tickling you to death! Don’t fret, as soon as you realize you’re being duped by a Leshy, just turn your clothes inside out and wear your shoes on the wrong feet. That’s the only way to escape him. Now you know.
Bean Nighe, Scotland
The lady above doesn’t look much like a fairy to us, but whatever floats your boat, Scotland. These Bean Nighe creatures are fairy messengers from the Celtic Otherworld, sent to foreshadow humans’ impending deaths. Much like our good friends the Pontianaks, these ladies died in childbirth, but instead of becoming organ-eating beasts, their spirits have been sentenced to launder the bloody garments of the soon-to-be-dead until the respective woman’s true death date, had she survived the birth. The above rendering is slightly more flattering than most descriptions, which peg a Bean Nighe as having a lone, large nostril, one large tooth, and webbed toes. Beautiful!
Lady Midday, Eastern Europe
Lady Midday is a treacherous force, swooping in on hot days to agonize toiling field workers. She often arrives at noon to chat her victims up, asking difficult questions to determine each target’s fate. If the workers improperly respond to her inquiries, Lady Midday will chop off their heads! Sounds like an evil version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, no? Lady Meredith Vieira?
Have you ever noticed a small bearded man running around your house? Look again, because Russian folklore promises that every home has a Domovoi. These little creatures have the ability to shape-shift into the physical forms of its human and animal housemates, as every tricky domestic ghoul should. Whether your Domovoi is good or evil is up to you. Use foul language, he’ll be cruel. Be clean, he’ll be nice. If you’d like to meet your Domovoi, yell, “Grandfather Dobrokhot, please come into my house and tend the flocks!” Fail-proof creature-catching phrase, right there.