Written by Jonathan Wojcik

Extreme Ghostbusters Ghosts: Part II

Last time, we had a little introduction to Extreme Ghostbusters, to the character designer who pushed its monsters so far and basked in the glory of such monsters as Corpuscle and Fear Itself. This round, we start off with...

Killjoys: The Clowns

The creative team behind Extreme Ghostbusters has said that their goal was to scare the shit out of every child viewer at least once, and a creepy clown episode was an inevitability. The "killjoys" obviously take a page from Killer Klowns from Outer Space, but add a number of disturbing twists all their own, and I especially love the "lead" clown who looks more like some middle ground between a human and a chicken. That beaked mask implies a much, much older definition of "clown," and these things have probably been around long enough that our clowns were more likely modeled after them.

These beings can somehow only feed on someone who's currently laughing, revealing a slimy, fanged esophagus they use to pull human victims right out of their clothes and swallow them whole.

...Victims which, subsequently, add to the tiny, giggling faces under the clown's own flesh.

The clowns can also infect humans, transforming Eduardo into one of their own through the toxic bite of a maniacal Jack-in-the-box, which curiously doesn't seem to be a "ghost" in its own right, but a sort of haunted weapon of the clown's creation.

Best of all is the "leader," or perhaps even "mother" of the clowns, a tentacled megaworm using an old circus booth as its outer body. This one doesn't even rely on goofy antics to make its victims laugh, but uses its tentacles to...uh...tickle people.

Okay, we've got scary clowns, transformation, absorbtion, live ingestion, tentacles and tickling all in one episode. Any more internet fetishes you wanna pile on there while we're at it? No? It's another inevitability of a show like this, of course. One person's nightmare fuel is another person's newly discovered kink.

The Unseen: Tenebraug

Another of my favorites since I first saw this series as a kid, Tenebraug is the guardian of an ancient artifact so sacred, anyone who wished to see it with their own eyes was never permitted to see anything again. This towering horror exists entirely to steal people's eyeballs right out of their heads, and yes, we get to see the aftermath of this in the episode itself. Like Deadliners, everybody gets their eyes back once Tenebraug is defeated, but that does little to dilute the nightmare fuel.

Designwise, Tenebraug is killer from top to presumably bottom, its lower body shrouded in a crimson fog. What we can see of the creature is crowned by a writhing anemone of eyestalks, with a single "collective" eye in what might be called its stomach, a collection of everal thousand eyes from millenia worth of past victims. My favorite feature, however, is Tenebraug's pale, peachy "face," with a toothless, vertical mouth and ironically no eyes of its own.

Tenebraug is defeated, as you might have possibly wondered, by simply being shown its own artifact, forcing it to forfeit its own sight and therefore every eyeball it has ever stolen...though an awful lot of them had nowhere to return to, so what exactly happened to them? We see eyes fly right back to his still-living victims, but did the rest just nestle themselves in ancient corpses across the globe? What about people who left no intact remains? Are their ghostly, flying eyeballs still wandering? Can I just have them?

The Crawler: Cohila's Babies

The obligatory insect-monster episode features an ancient arthropod god, Cohila, who comes to New York City to raise a family of several thousand scuttling, baby-faced grubs unfortunately in need of a mother. What's a single dad to do?

The Crawler: Cohila and Janine

Why, take the form of a dashing foreign gentleman and sweep Janine Melnitz off her feet until he can cocoon her and transform her into his moth-bride, of course. The real Cohila is far more charming than his disguise, however, resembling a cross between an earwig and a thorny katydid with soulful little eyes nobody could turn down if he'd just learn to ask.

The Pied Piper of Manhatten: The Piper

This episode really is an almost point-for-point retelling of the Pied Piper; just replace the rats with ghosts, and have the piper peel his skin off in the end to reveal a wonderful bulgey-eyed fish-face. He's also got a mouth on his stomach, and doesn't really need his flute to produce the haunting melody that hypnotizes ghosts and human children alike.

Be Careful What you Wish For: Duophanes

This episode features the classic story of a wish-granting entity who interprets all requests with an unfortunate degree of literacy. You can imagine what befalls the idiot who wishes he were "made of money." Some sucker who asks to "go back to his roots" literally grows roots out of his flesh, and Eduardo, asking to get closer to Kylie, is trapped in the body of her cat...which leads to a pretty funny line where a fellow buster asks him what he actually requested.

The entity itself appears as a shift salesman voiced by the late Jonathan Harris, most famous as Doctor Smith on Lost in Space!

It's really too bad that Duophanes doesn't talk in his true form, because I'd love to hear Dr. Smith's voice coming out of this outrageous split-jawed, binocular-eyed creature. Is that baleen? What in the world does this spirit have baleen for? Does it subsist on the ghosts of brine shrimp?!

Grease: The Gremlin

Your classic gremlin and classic gremlin story, complete with an airplane the little rascal is hell-bent on picking apart. It's an alright gremlin design, though this might have been a great opportunity for something back on the silly-looking side, ala the classic Disney and Warner Brothers gremlins. Interestingly, Gremlins according to Extreme Ghostbusters secrete an oily, lubricating ectoplasm to aid in their dismantling of mechanical systems, and according to Egon, it was actually a gremlin's fault that the Titanic sunk.

The Jersey Devil Made me Do It: The Jersey Devil

I'm not really sure how this thing could be mistaken for the folkloric Jersey Devil - a slender, crane-like creature - but it's certainly an interesting looking thing, both bat-like and toad-like with eye sockets that run into its "ears." This "Jersey Devil" is inventively associated with metal, born from a forge that apparently burned its way straight to the creature's native plane. Its breath instantaneously rusts metal, it creaks like a corroded hinge as it flies, and the only thing that can defeat it is a sword forged from a chunk of its own body.

Dry Spell: Sea Ghost

Several things are cool about this creature. The purple, segmented sea-slug design is just stellar, especially its bloodshot, all-too-human eyeballs and lovely back crest. It's also a ghost accidentally drudged up from the deep ocean, and the thought of ghosts and spirits swimming around down there is always terrifyingly badass. The monster is a sort of "ectoplasmic vampire," draining living things of their spiritual essence, and because it's also a spirit of water, it takes every drop of moisture with it - reducing victims to mummified husks.

Sonic Youth: The Banshees

We only ever momentarily see what a "banshee" really looks like in this episode, a green-skinned hag with an almost insect-like mouth structure. Otherwise, the two Banshee sisters spend most of their time in human form, and perhaps predictably, the "prettier" one is also the "good" one. It's rather lackluster writing, but our creature designers did their best as always.

Sonic Youth: The Donkey Ghost

The most interesting creatures in "Sonic Youth" ultimately wind up being two minor ghosts who temporarily escape from containment. One manifests as a hilarious, anthropomorphic donkey in suspenders, which also breathes fire for whatever reason. It's this kind of "Alice in Wonderland" nightmare I always loved in the old series, and I'm glad it sneaks into this show every so often.

Sonic Youth: The Gas Ghost

Our other containment breach is a very different creature; a fat, hairy thing with an almost ape-like face, rotten teeth and rancid, reeking breath, another that feels strongly of the 80's Ghostbusters.

Ghost Apocalyptic Future: Tempus

Tempus is a demon with the power to travel freely through time, and he uses that ability to bring about a future where ghosts and spirits rule. He also has a very cool, classically Fil Barlow sort of design with a lot of personality in those weird, mis-matched eyes and subtly insectile features.

Ghost Apocalyptic Future: Ghostly Citizens

...But what DOES a future rules by ghosts look like? We see a few interesting minor spooks in this episode, like this flying, eyeless, anemone-like worm.

Another, with its stalked eyes, facial tentacles and barbed claws, looks like a cross between a crustacean and a cuttlefish.

We even get to see some surprisingly traditional "ghosts," albeit neon green, and the one in the foreground has an almost droid-like face, doesn't it? Are those headphones??

By far the most memorable denizens of the "ghost apocalyptic future," and among my favorite things in the whole series, are these long-necked slugs with faces like eerie, alien stoplights. We only see them briefly, howling wildly as they carry off a few human prisoners in a bubble that appears to be part of another, more specialized ghost itself. The question of what these beings intend to do with their victims may be one of the scariest moments in the show, and left completely to the imagination.

Bird of Prey: Harasvelg

A giant, firebreathing, hairy bird that causes storms isn't the most memorable monster in the series, but the wickedly prehistoric look of its featherless face goes further to show how hard Fil worked to put a strong personal spin on even the simplest ideas. Harasvelg is summoned by a farmhand to bring an end to a drought, but unfortunately, it's a little over-eager with the weather and doesn't really want to be put back where it came from.

Seeds of Destruction: Shanbahac

This is an especially funny example of the discrepancy between our creature designer and the writing crew. Characters throughout the episode simply describe this being as a "face" carved into a seed, Eduardo even comparing the face to Marilyn Manson, a joke that's made so, so much funnier when what Barlow designs is an alien pod ringed with four giant, red insect-eyes, not something most humans immediately look at and just call "a carving of a face." The little seed is wonderfull animated as it scurries and scuttles abut on its roots, and we've already seen what it looks like when it takes possession of plant life.

The true Shanbahac isn't much different from the bodies it keeps trying to construct from Earthly vegetation, with leafy "wings" and multiple long, fanged, petal-like jaws.

Certainly Manson, alright. Unmistakable.

The Luck of the Irish: The Leprechaun

An evil Leprechaun story. Why not.

The Ghostmakers: Mirror Demon

The mirror demon feels more than any other monster in this series like a really "Ghostbusters style" villain, like something that might have appeared memorably in the old series, with a comically ghoulish appearance, dapper fashion sense and classically villainous personality. Living in a warped realm on the other side of every mirror, the demon enjoys torturing the souls trapped in its realm and commands an army of body-snatching devils.

The Ghostmakers: Body Stealers

It's those minions that make this episode truly unsettling, their gangly frames and alien faces really looking like something that would puppet someone else's body, and our glimpse of them scuttling around the twisted mirror world like big, red geckos is a visual I never forget. What's more, when one of these things takes your body, it "pushes out" your soul, leaving your ghost helplessly watching as it takes over and subsequently ruins your human life.

The body thiefs can even transform their human hosts at will, warping them into much bigger, more menacing monstrosities than the demon's own frail, spidery forms. I love that this episode gives us three different "demon" designs and they're all memorably ghastly.

The only big problem with this episode? Slimer is one of the characters whose "body" gets taken over by a demon, pushing slimer's "ghost" out of slimer's "body."