“Papa Ghede is a handsome fellow in his hat and coat of black. Papa Ghede is going to the palace! He’ll eat and drink, when he gets back!”
Cracher-Mortel (CRA-shay mor-TEL; Fr. Cracher “to spit” + Mortel “deadly” or “mortal”) is a puffer fish-like Wesen whose spit turns people into ‘zombie’-like creatures.
When woged, Cracher-Mortel gain large round heads covered in short spikes on their scalps, jawlines, and chins. These spikes replace their hair, both scalp and facial. Their faces are tan in colour with accents of a sickly-green on the sides and toward the backs of their heads. They have big eyes and a wide mouth.
When preparing to spit at their victims, their heads inflate and their spikes to become more erect.
Cracher-Mortels’ bright green spit contains tetradotoxin (TTX), which shuts down the neurosignals of nerves and heart cells and causes suspended animation in their victims. With the victim paralysed, they are often pronounced dead.
Atropine and scopolamine toxins re-animate the victim in a zombie state, similar to Lazarus syndrome. In this state, the victim is in a trance and will perform whatever task is asked of them by the Cracher-Mortel.
The entire process is known as Dämmerzustand. There are four distinct stages that the victim goes through, and it’s only in the fourth and last stage that they are curable. When in the final stage, they are consumed by rage and aggression, lashing out at any one and anything they see.
The spit, however, has a different effect on Grimms – once the rage stage begins, the Cracher-Mortel can no longer control the Grimm like they can with normal people. Once a Grimm awakens in their zombified state, they are immune to a second dosage of Cracher-Mortel spit; it simply absorbs into their skin without a trace.
Cracher-Mortel have strong links to the practice of Voodoo, particularly around the creation of zombie slaves.
They are confident and incredibly dangerous Wesen, and have even been known to start revolutions, using the zombie victims to create chaos.
Our favourite Cracher-Mortel: Baron Samedi
The character of the famous Haitian voodoo priest has been used many times in popular culture – perhaps most famously in the 1973 James Bond film, Let and Let Die.
In Grimm the Baron wears a top hat and a dinner jacket, smokes a cigar and speaks with a Louisiana accent. He is hired by Prince Eric Renard to create a zombie army that would cause terror on the streets of Portland. This, however, was just part of his plan to turn Grimm Nick Burkhardt into one of the undead, capture him and whisk him away to Europe.
Baron Samedi is as ruthless as his sociopathic employer, taking pride in his power as slave master to his victims. For instance, he spits on Eric’s long-term bodyguard, just to demonstrate his powers to the curious prince – they then both go back to their dinner, leaving the guard prone on the floor.
As seen in
Baron Samedi features in the season 2 finale episodes The Waking Dead and Goodnight, Sweet Grimm, and the season 3 opener, The Ungrateful Dead.
He creates an army of rage-fuelled Portlanders as part of his plans to capture Nick – but he isn’t prepared for what happens when you spread your toxins with a Grimm, who it turns out, don’t just ‘lie down and die’.
Grimm season 3 currently airs on Wednesdays at 9pm on WATCH in the UK (Sky TV 109 & Virgin TV 124).
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