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6 Creepy Creatures From Folklore (That Want To Eat You)

Updated on September 9, 2014
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J.J. is a freelance researcher, writer, and editor. She loves science, history, and "weirdness". Oh, and gaming. Lots of gaming.

Sometimes they are cautionary myths, warning disobedient children and straying husbands to beware their behavior lest they be dragged away and made into a meal. Other times, they are vengeful spirits, thirsting for the blood of those who have wronged them. Still more are simply carnivorous monsters, gleefully chomping down on whichever poor soul that happened to come by. One thing is certain, these stories of macabre man-eaters are as intriguing as they are creepy.

Rangda is often represented in costumes during ritual dances that symbolize the battle of good vs. evil.
Rangda is often represented in costumes during ritual dances that symbolize the battle of good vs. evil. | Source

Rangda and the Leyak

In Balinese folklore, the Leyak appear as normal human beings during the day, but by night they assume the horrific appearance of a floating head with entrails dangling from the neck and a long, serpentine tongue. They are said to fly through the air, searching for human organs to use in magical potions. They feed upon the recently deceased buried in graveyards. Certain legends say that the Leyak have a particular taste for pregnant women and newborn infants. They are also capable of shapeshifting into any creature they wish.

Rangda, the Queen of the Leyak, leads her army of Leyak witches against the force of good, known as Barong. Some believe that she curses the land and those who anger her, bringing plagues and sometimes death to anyone who does not show her respect. Though she is a dark, frightening being, she is also seen as a protective force by many communities in Bali.

Campers beware! Each-usige is also drawn from the water by the smell of burning meat.
Campers beware! Each-usige is also drawn from the water by the smell of burning meat. | Source

Each-uisge

From Scottish mythology comes the each-uisge, a water spirit that most commonly takes the shape of either a handsome man or a beautiful horse. It dwells in the sea or large lakes, and is sometimes mistaken as a more playful creature known as a selkie. However, the each-uisge has a much more malevolent reputation.

It is said that those who mistakenly try to ride an each-usiage that is in horse form should take special care in avoiding bodies of water. Even the smell of water sends the beast toward it. The horse's once luxurious coat transforms into a viscous, sticky substance, which traps the rider to its back. As soon as it is under the water, the creature transforms into a monster that tears the unfortunate rider to pieces. The each-usiage devours every part of its victim, save for the liver, which is mysteriously allowed to float to the surface.

Some legends of the Tinyak say they have the ability to fly and are repelled by garlic.
Some legends of the Tinyak say they have the ability to fly and are repelled by garlic. | Source

Tiyanak

The Tiyanak are insidiously carnivorous creatures hailing from Philippine mythology. Assuming the appearance of a helpless human baby, they lay in forested areas crying until a concerned traveller stops to "rescue" them. As soon as it is in the arms of its victim, a Tiyanak changes into its true demon-like form and proceeds to devour the poor good samaritan.

The origin of these monsters is debated. Some say the demon children are the spirits of children who died in the womb, while others say they are children who died before being baptised. Whatever the case, there are many actions that are said to ward off the malevolent Tiyanak. These measures range from the simple (i.e. making loud noises), to the absurd (i.e. turning one's clothes inside out and running through the forest).

Some stories say a kumiho can become a human being if they can manage to abstain from eating human flesh for 1000 years.
Some stories say a kumiho can become a human being if they can manage to abstain from eating human flesh for 1000 years. | Source

Kumiho

Hailing from Korean folklore, the kumiho are fox spirits that love to devour human beings. They are particularly fond of hearts and livers. One legend depicts a kumiho feasting upon the livers of 1000 men over the course of 1000 years in order to become a human itself. As shape-shifting creatures, they will often assume the guise of a beautiful woman in order to lure unwitting men to their demise.

Though they are highly protective of their true identities, Kumiho also enjoy playing tricks on humans. Using their ability to transform, they can assume the likeness of anyone they choose. In the story Transformation of the Kumiho the fox assumes the identity of a bride on her wedding day, and is only discovered later once her bridal clothes were removed.

In addition to being described as a sheep-like monster, the Ao Ao is also sometimes depicted as a voracious peccary.
In addition to being described as a sheep-like monster, the Ao Ao is also sometimes depicted as a voracious peccary. | Source

Ao Ao

Ao Ao is a carnivorous sheep-like monster as told by the GuaranĂ­ people of South America. Its name comes from the howling call it gives as it chases its prey. Surviving on a diet solely of human beings, Ao Ao will chase victims across any distance or terrain. Once captured, the Ao Ao consumes its meal, clothes and all. While the Ao Ao can topple trees that terrified victims try to climb for safety, legend says that it is mysteriously afraid of palm trees. Thus, hiding up a palm tree is the only known way to get the Ao Ao to leave a targeted human alone.

It is also known to eat disobedient children who have been captured by its brother, a cursed god known as Jasy Jatere. Jasy Jatere wanders through villages searching for children who misbehave. He takes them to a cave, where he digs out their eyes. Blinded, the children are lead to Ao Ao, who easily gobbles them up as they cannot get away.

It is said that a pontianak will suck out the eyes of anyone who sees her.
It is said that a pontianak will suck out the eyes of anyone who sees her. | Source

Pontianak

Said to be the spirits of pregnant women who have died, the Malaysian pontianaks prey on unsuspecting men while disguised as a beautiful woman. They target a victim by scent, usually through sniffing clothing that is left outside to dry. After tracking down the desired male, they plunge their fingers into the stomach, tearing out his internal organs and devouring them. If a pontianak is particularly incensed by a man, she will rip off his sexual organs as well.

The sounds of babies crying and dogs howling is believed to signal that a pontianak is nearby. They are also identifiable by their own unique scents. When near, they give off a floral aroma, which turns into an overwhelming foul odor. The only way to deflect them is by driving a nail into a hole that is located at the nape of their neck. After this, she stays in her beautiful form, even making a good wife to he who defeated her. However, once the nail is removed, she will transform back into a pontianak, likely killing the man who married her.

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    • Maxwell Tyler profile image

      Maxwell Barefoot 3 years ago from Altoona, PA

      Pretty interesting, I've studied mythology and folklore, and the parallels between different cultures' creatures always fascinates me. Does it mean there is a "universal myth" or "collective culture": or that they exist! O_o

    • jjheathcoat profile image
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      JJ Heathcoat 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thank you! I tried to focus on legends that aren't as well-known as others!

    • PaigePixel profile image

      Paige 3 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      Very interesting- I hadn't heard any of those legends! And Rangda must be the scariest...she's got an army! Voted up, awesome and interesting!