May 17, 2014

Ghoul: The Kid from "Modern Family" Fights Zombies

Ghoul  is a gay-subtext buddy-bonding horror novel by Brian Keene (2007), who specializes in postapocalyptic zombie novels.

A ghoul, a monster that lives on dead human meat, is terrorizing the town, getting most of its victims in the cemetery run by Clark, who is violently abusive to his son Barry.  Barry gradually realizes that his father is assisting the ghoul, and has even kidnapped a woman from town to become its mate.

Barry's friends, Timmy and Doug, agree to help him look for the ghoul, but they have problems of their own.

Doug is being sexually abused by his mother.

Timmy is being emotionally abused by his father.

The real monsters are the adults.

Doug is quiet, passive, rather chunky, probably gay, and interested in Timmy (who, unfortunately has a girlfriend).  He is the one who gets eaten by the ghoul.  

I wonder why Keene decided to make Doug's mother the abuser.  In real-life, the father is the offender in 90% of cases of sexual abuse.  Maybe he didn't want to reflect the myth that same-sex abuse causes kids to "turn" gay.  Or maybe he wanted to add some diversity by making one of the evil parents a woman. 

The ghoul ends up kidnapping Timmy's girlfriend, and Barry and Timmy rush to the rescue.  They all escape.

But not entirely.  Twenty years later, when Timmy returns to the cemetery to bury his father, he sees that Barry is now the caretaker, and his son has bruises consistent with abuse.

The real monsters are the adults.

The novel was made into a tv movie in 2012, but it aired on the Chiller Network, so I haven't seen it, and I don't know if the gay subtext was retained.   It starred Nolan Gould of Modern Family as Timmy, Mattie Liptak, left, as Steve (the gay-vague Doug character), and Zack Rand as Ronny (the Barry character).  Brett Lapeyrouse (top photo) played Pat.

Gay characters appear often in the works of Brian Keen, including the protagonists of The Rising and of Dead Sea.  

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