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Types of undeads

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Ghoul is from the Arabic and Persian folklore, it appears in the tales of the Arabian Nights and form a class of Jinn, like Ifrit for example, seen as spawn of the devil, Iblis. Ghouls change shape by taking often the looks of a hyena or a woman, but are recognizable by their cloven feet, the only constant element of their appearance. The ghula, feminization of the Arabic word, is the equivalent Arabic/Persian Lilith (Lamia). She loves cemeteries where she digs up corpses for food and other unfrequented places. Ghoul also haunts the desert under the guise of a young woman and she devours travelers succumb to his calls. Many terrifying stories for children have as lead actor a ghula in Maghreb countries, she often plays the role of the Big Bad Wolf.



Lich is derived from the literature and fantasy games; it is a dead wizard who remains in a state of death-life with her magical powers. It’s traditionally autonomous and above all, very powerful evil, highly intelligent creature. The transformation of a sorcerer lich can be for various reasons, not always evil. An important distinction is made between liches, will creatures, and simple zombies or undead skeletons who did not choose their fate, and who no longer have any free will. These are generally used as slaves or puppets, a necromancer who handles more or less conscious. They are invincible.


A mummy is originally a corpse that has been preserved from destruction and decay due to natural causes or from human techniques. In popular culture, the mummies come alive, usually to punish the defilers of their graves.


A skeleton is an undead that has lost all its rotten flesh, bones are keeping by magic or other mystical phenomenon. By default, the term refers to a human skeleton. This creature is frequently found in stories related to horror, supernatural or fantasy adventure. They are especially common in the field of fantasy, where they are somewhat difficult to defeat nemeses. In general, they are skeletons of dead people who are led by necromancers.


Burne-Jones-le-Vampire(Philip Burne-Jones, The Vampire, 1897)

Vampires are from various folklore and popular superstitions, they feed on the blood of the living in order to draw a life force. The vampire legend has its origins in ancient mythological traditions and include legendary beings with vampiric characteristics in a variety of cultures around the world. The vampire was popularized in Europe in the early eighteenth century and emerged specifically in Eastern Europe, particularly in the Balkans, where they were portrayed as ghosts in that shroud, visiting their loved, causing death and destruction in the neighborhood. At the same time, the Benedictine Augustin Calmet Lorraine describes the vampire as a “returning in the body,” as distinct of intangible ghosts such as ghosts or spirits.

The most charismatic and sophisticated character of the modern vampire fiction appeared in 1819 with the publication of The Vampyre by John Polidori whose undead hero was inspired by Lord Byron where Polidori was the personal physician. The book was a great success but it is the work that Bram Stoker wrote in 1897, Dracula, which remains the epitome of the genre, establishing an image of the ever-popular vampire today in the works of fiction, even if it is far enough away from its folk forefathers which he retains little of the original characteristics.


Zombies, whose name refers to the origin of ghosts specific to Haitian voodoo lore, are described in horror movies and many video games like corpses that come alive with a magical, religious, scientific, or unknown process. They usually have limited intelligence and little or no will of their own. They are manipulated by an external demiurge or only desire is to kill and eat human flesh. Unlike vampires who usually look like normal humans, they display various scars left by the decomposition or continue to rot after resuscitation. Although their name comes from Haitian Creole, zombies fiction are mostly from the macabre imagination of medieval Europe and they do not have much in common with the zombies of voodoo, which do not kill the living to feed. Generally, in video games or movies, zombies have no coordination of the limbs, can not climb ladders or swimming, are attracted by the noise and the smell of blood. Nothing to do with voodoo zombies themselves that are invoked to become servants, not eat anything and fear salt. Indeed, the salt would lead them to be buried and to be a burial themselves.

Other legendary creatures

Other creatures have been less successful in popular culture, which has largely taken over the zombies and vampires, although they also have the attributes of the living dead: they are the Draugr – Scandinavian equivalent to phantoms, Jiangshi – Chinese equivalent of zombies, and Ahkiyyini of Inuit mythology.

Vetâlas are the undead of Hinduism, which appear particularly in Tales of the Vampire (eleventh century).

Creatures specific to a particular universe

  • the Inferi in Harry Potter;
    The Shibitos in Forbidden Siren series: zombies with memories of their past life;
  • the Nazgul in Lord of the Rings;
  • the Flood in the Halo video game saga;
  • the Necromorphs, human corpses resurrected by an alien virus body in Dead Space (video game)
  • the death knights of the video game World of Warcraft, white knights of light transformed by hatred and vengeance in dark knights carrying runes of death and destruction and subject to the will of the Lich King Arthas in the second extension which is called “Wrath of the Lich King” .

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