The U.S. state of Louisiana has long been steeped in various myths and pieces of folklore. One of the odder mystery beasts said to lurk within the steamy, muck-mired swamps of Louisiana is a creature called the Grunch, also called other names such as The Vampire of Farbourgh Marigny or The Demon Of Downman Road. It is most often said to be some sort of ape-like reptilian monstrosity with glowing eyes, a goat-like head, hoofed feet, formidable fangs, wicked claws, and a very bad attitude. The aggressive little monster is usually surrounded by a wretched stench, and has the apparent ability to instill great fear upon those who see it, and it also is known to unleash ear piercing howls or wails that invoke terror. The origins of the creature go way back to the beginnings of New Orleans, back in the 1700s when it was called La Nouvelle-Orléans.
The city itself was founded as a French colony in 1718 by the French Mississippi Company, under the direction of Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, and was named for the regent of France at the time, Philippe II, Duke of Orléans. It would be sold to the Americans in the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, and become a rather bustling port city with an interesting mix of American, Creole, and French influences that can still be felt here today. The Mississippi became filled with the bustle of countless river boats and ships, and also became a close-knit safe community for people of color in an age when discrimination was rampant.
It was at this time of budding growth that stories began to be whispered amongst the new settlers of the strange monster living out in the remote swamps of the region all around them. What exactly it was depended on who you asked. In one tale, back in those days there was a remote road through the untamed wilderness, which rumor had it led to a forest that held a small camp of various societal outcasts and freaks, mostly people who were different or deformed somehow, such as dwarves, midgets, and albinos. It was these freaks who inbred and created the abomination that would come to be known as the Grunch, with the road being called Grunch Road.
In another version of events, the notorious Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau created it when she castrated the entity called the Devil Baby, only for its detached testicles to morph into a female and male Grunch, which then attacked her and went running off into the wilderness to sow havoc. Marie Laveau herself has a prominent place in the local lore, a powerful 19th century Voodoo priestess who was so powerful and respected that various prestigious members of society, such as politicians, judges, lawyers, businessmen, and wealthy landowners, all came before her for consultation before making important decisions concerning business or matters of the state. For such a potent force in Voodoo at the time the Grunch must have been pretty powerful indeed, considering that according to the lore the creatures were able to almost kill her in a flurry of bites and strikes. These things have been said to roam the wild swampland ever since.
In yet another story the creatures were the result of Satan worshipers who had sold their souls to the Devil in order to conjure up the demon Grunch as a sort of protector. In some traditions a human can be turned into a Grunch by being bitten by one, similar to the werewolf legend. Whatever its origins, the Grunch is usually described the same way, as a hodgepodge of reptilian, simian, canine, and goat-like features, standing around 4 feet in height and covered with black leathery skin or scales. It is said to be responsible for the disappearances of livestock and pets, the blood of which it is said to completely suck out through a single hole in the neck. Its favorite way of hunting is said to be to wait in tall grass or reeds for a victim, after which it will pounce and drag its prey away into the muck and gloom of the dim swamp. There have even been vanishings of people who have supposedly been taken away by the Grunch, carried off by the malevolent entity to never be seen again.
One report was relayed to me personally by a witness who claims to have seen the Grunch in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. She says that she had been driving along a darkened road when she saw what she at first took to be a dog, but which would turn out to be something far stranger. She says that as she approached the hunched over, loping figure, she could see that it was reptilian in nature, and that it seemed to not want to be bothered. She says:
This thing looked like some sort of lizard-like cross between monkey and bulldog. It was horrible. It was shuffling along with a lopsided gait and seemed to be so unnatural that I could feel the hairs on my neck stand up. It had grayish scaly skin and a snouted face that looked to be a cross between that of an ape and an alligator, it is really hard to describe. As I approached it it stopped and puffed up to stand on two legs at a height of about 5 feet, looking at me with those baleful eyes, and then it emitted the most unpleasant hiss I could imagine, after which it sort of lunged at me as I passed! Let me tell you I was well on my way after that and I have never seen anything like it since!
It may all sound like pure folklore, but there have actually been numerous sightings of the Grunch throughout the past centuries, going up right to the present day. More modern sightings tend to be by passing motorists along rural roads or Highway 90, who will see the creature running along the side of the road or even attacking their vehicle, and they have often been reported rummaging through trash or even attacking pets. In one report one of the creatures was witnessed to feed off of a dog and leave a blood drained carcass behind. In 2005 after Hurricane Katrina there was apparently a spate of sightings of the creatures, and they were oddly often seen prowling about at the New Orleans City Park golf course, perhaps flushed out of their normal habitat by the storm. It has gotten so bad in some areas that people don’t even want to leave their pets out in their yards, lest the Grunch comes for them.
Considering all of the stories of people actually seeing these creatures it has been suggested that the Grunch might be some form of Louisiana Chupacabras, but it is unclear whether there is any reality to any of this or if it is all just spooky urban legend and myth. What could the Grunch road monster be? Is it some escaped exotic pet, a ghost, spirit, demon, or even the Chupacabras? Is it just a collection of spooky local urban legends? Whatever the case may be, it certainly gives one something to look out for if you are ever driving along a lonely road at night in the vicinity of New Orleans.