Written by Jonathan Wojcik

Extreme Ghostbusters Ghosts: Part III

Continuing from last time, we're about to look at the remaining monsters from the (mostly) surprisingly good Extreme Ghostbusters...

Slimer's Sacrifice: Fenris

This rather elaborate episode begins with the rampage of Fenris, the supernatural canine which, in this series, serves the evil demonic god Surt. I think they might be mixing up their Norse gods here, but whatever, this show was mostly ghostwritten. No, really, they'd just have interns write them scripts; like I said, Barlow's art is what really saved it. Fenris is interesting enough for a big, scary dog, with a more goblinesque face and legs that taper into points rather than paws.

When Fenris almost breaks free from the containment unit, however, Slimer pushes him back in and gets himself trapped inside for the second time in Ghostbusters animated continuity, leaving Eduardo to enter the containment unit and retrieve him. What follows is a pretty weird sequence of events.

Slimer's Sacrifice: Containment Ghosts

Upon entering containment, Slimer is apprehended by some spidery-limbed, long-legged thing disguised as one of the containment realm's ramshackle metal panels. Did it always look this way?

This gaggle of ghouls will actually reappear in a couple of other episodes, part of a larger set of "stock" ghosts designed by Barlow and Peck, then kind of butchered and mangled by the animators.

Another ghost trapped in containment looks very slightly, if accidentally, lik Eduardo if you squint hard enough, which he takes advantage of by strapping his own gear to the poor ghost, tying the proton blaster in an "on" position and using it as a distraction.

The very best thing about this episode has to be these things that roost upside-down, like bats, but unfurl into more spider-like monsters with oversized, skeletal heads and jaws. Gorgeous.

I want fifty of these.

Slimer's Sacrifice: The Elemental Forms

While Slimer and Eduardo adventure through containment, Egon gets transformed into this goofy wind elemental, Roland into a crawling crawling fire elemental and Garret into this somewhat regrettably designed Earth elemental. You can tell these three were either not designed by Barlow or not designed with the same care as most of our other ghosts, possibly because they're such an arbitrary addition to the whole plot. This episode wants to be an epic brush with Doomsday, but it just piles too many elements together.

Slimer's Sacrifice: Surt

Surt himself is at least another fairly interesting design; a shaggy hulk with yak-like horns and no eyes. He also keeps the banshees from "Sonic Youth" on leashes by his throne, apparently to use their vocal powers in controlling his minions.

Grundelesque: The Grundel

The Grundel is one of the only ghosts from The Real Ghostbusters to make a return appearance in this series, and he definitely fits the show's darker, more disturbing style. Rather than repeat myself here, I suggest you read what we've already talked about regarding this one.

In Your Dreams: The Somniwyrms

When the ghostbusters investigate a rash of people unable to awaken from sleep, they find adorable ectoplasmic parasites identified as "somniwyrms," which attach long, thin feeding tubes to slumbering humans and feed on their dreams...but, for some reason, the somniwyrms can't be trapped, and only disintegrate when hit by a proton beam.

In Your Dreams: Morpheus

It turns out that the Somniwyrms are just extensions of the dream-demon, Morpheus, who hopes the energy they gather might allow him to construct a body in the physical world. His design is simple, but not bad at all, calling to mind how "zombies" often looked in older comics and cartoons.

Moby Ghost: Lotan

Moby Ghost, as you may have guessed, is about a whale-like ectoplasmic spirit vs. a ghostly hunter, though in this case the "whale" is a burrowing beast whose presence disrupts and eventually destroys all electrical technology. As a creature design, Lotan is basically just a very scary whale with clawed limbs, but its more elongate, eel-like body is interesting, as are the tooth-like fingers of flesh along its lips.

Fallout: Nuclear Demon

In a fun nod to classic B-movie monsters and Japanese kaiju, this ghost normally feeds on uranium deep beneath the Earth, but once unleashed by a mining project, begins to grow larger and larger as it consumes radiation from human technology. Though it only wants to eat, it grows increasingly unstable and threatens to explode in a catastrophic meltdown if it isn't dealt with quickly.

An intense, green glow obscures this design through most of its episode, but we really get a look at it once Egon figures out how to stabilize and shrink it back down. Its reptilian-arthropod appearance fits in perfectly with its concept as a city-destroying atomic giant, and I especially like how its huge mouth parts and tiny, high-set eyes remind me of a solifugid.

Eyes of a Dragon: Gu-Mo

This plot involves an ancient, Chinese dragon awakening as a skeletal demon to steal the bones from the living. This is fairly karmic, considering humans have in turn stolen and ground up animal bones as medicinal "dragon bones" for thousands of years. Yes, we do get to see people flopping around bonelessly.

Barlow makes a nice effort turning the humdrum idea of a dragon skeleton into something a little more interesting, almost more worm-like, with hovering flames where it ought to have eyes.

Eyes of a Dragon: Skeletal Constructs

Where this episode really shines, though, are the minions Gu-Mo crafts from all those stolen bones, building monsters of every coneivable shape from human and animal skeletons!

Till Death do we Start: The Well

This episode features a skinless, ghostly bride emerging from a wishing well to torment her would-be husband, which is cool, but not as cool as when the well itself turns out to be the resting place for this marvelously strange creature, its face - which is almost all we glimpse of it - falling somewhere between rat, porpoise and prickly pear cactus.

Glutton for Punishment: Ravana

Ravana is supposedly the king of the Rakshasas, a demonic figure originating from Hinduism. The episode has little to do with actual Rakshasa lore, but imagines Ravana as a parasitic spirit of gluttony. Any food it touches is contaminated with its essence, and anybody who ingests it becomes unable to stop eating, their body produces more ectoplasmic essence Ravana will eventually return to harvest.

In our last couple XGB posts, we talked a bit about how there was little communication between the creature design side of things and the script-writing side, the latter often interns brought on to crank out a story as quickly as possible. For Ravana, Barlow was simply told to draw a demonic cat, but there's not a lot of obvious feline in the beautifully grotesque, bloated creature he sent back.

The result is that the Ghostbusters spend this episode cracking cat puns at their nemesis for no immediately apparent reason, and it's honestly a little more interesting because of it.

Ghost in the Machine: Campucho

This enormous demon was apparently trapped in an oil well tens of millions of years before the appearance of mankind; an oil well which, naturally, ends up being tapped and distributed as gasoline around New York City. The result?

Its final design is alright, but the cars and trucks collectively possessed by the demonic fuel are superb, and really look straight out of the wackier days of The Real Ghostbusters.

Dog Days: The Dog

This is an episode that starts out strong when you think you know where it's heading, but completely and utterly drops the ball by the end. What we have is a giant, spectral bulldog who basically just acts like any other dog if it happened to be way, way too big, and also happened to turn regular dogs against their owners.

The adorable behemoth looks lost, confused and scared throughout, even cowering from the ghostbusters and clearly a sympathetic being...but the busters trap it anyway, and then its owner shows up...

Dog Days: The Mistress

Initially appearing in a curvy human form, The Mistress reveals a much more interesting look the more pissed off she gets, and anybody would be pissed if a bunch of strangers were bullying their lost dog.

It feels very, very much like this episode was supposed to build up to a happy ending all around, a ghost reunited with an innocent pet who didn't mean any harm...but The Mistress is simply written as another mean, evil monster, blasted, trapped and sent off to containment. No plot twist at all, and utterly no mercy from the cold-hearted busters.

Mole People: Energy Demons

This episode interestingly deals with prejudice and fear towards a community of homeless people who live under the city streets. The "sub dwellers" are falsely blamed for a series of power outages actually caused by these electricity-loving, manta-like demons with hairy cyclops faces.

A Temporary Insanity: Ecto Leeches

Oddly, the episode immediately following "Mole People" features more ray-like spirits who also feed on electrical energy, though of the two, the ecto leeches have a slightly cooler design in my book.

A Temporary Insanity: Lillith

The "leeches" also have their own queen, the demon Lillith, who's been interpreted countless ways since Biblical times but probably never before with an entire cuttlefish for a head. Lillith actually disguises herself as a human to become a temp replacement for Janine, and does the whole "seducing all the men to her side" routine lady demons are so into.

Rage: The Trolls

In the original Real Ghostbusters, trolls were mostly comical and no two looked exactly alike. Here, trolls are fairly horrifying, and replicate when negative emotions - like anger or hate - are directed towards them. They still live under bridges, though!

I do like how this design sort of emphasizes everything frightening about apes, even if this creature feels more rodent or marsupial-like. It's like a semi-hairles wombat-baboon.

The Sphinx: The Sphinx

Actually one of the cooler and scarier villains in the series, the Sphinx punishes people who take pride in their intelligence by challenging them with its classic "what walks on four legs in the morning and so forth" riddle. It's just lucky that, apparently, nobody in this universe knows ANYTHING about Greek mythology, because of course it takes Egon to figure out the answer.

The Sphinx is given a lot more personality than most ghosts in this show. "I bet you think you're pretty smart" is practically its catchphrase, and its body language is quite expressive to compensate for its eerie, stiffly staring mask.

But yes, that mask comes off:

The true face of the sphinx, green and slimy and utterly alien, makes a great contrast to its otherwise fairly earthly and handsome body as well as its fairly normal voice. Its many feelers are used to literally suck the intelligence from its victims, horrifically leaving them like this:

Apparently, the process of having your "smartness" eaten by a monster also causes your eyeballs and tongue to swell obscenely, reducing you to drooling and blowing raspberries. It's one of those things that comes across silly on paper, nightmarish in execution.

Witchy Woman: The Demon

The near-final episode of the series is a somewhat simpler story about three women who commune with a demon to acquire magical powers, cursing the people who wronged them into hideous forms.

Witchy Woman: The Witches

Unfortunately, said demon eventually turns on its disciples and inflicts them with the same curses they inflicted upon others, transforming them into a grotesque ogre, a rat, and a hideously warped tree-person.

...Though still not as warped as the tree who used to be a football player. This might be one of the most unsettling images in the series; I haven't seen many tree-beings that looked this agonized.

Back in the Saddle: The Ecto Clones

The finale to the entire series, "Back in the Saddle," is a two-parter featuring the return of the original ghostbusters, which is fun, though you might expect them to go up against something fairly epic in scope or one of their old enemies from the original series.

Instead, the first half has the busters fighting these metal-eating beings, who simply multiply when exposed to proton streams. Their designs are at least a ton of fun, with prehistoric fishy faces on potato-ghost bodies.

The second part of "Back in the Saddle" pits the teams against an amorphous black fog from the bermuda triangle, which they name S.I.D.N.E.E, and....that's it. That's the end of the series and the end of our reviews.

Could have been more climactic, I suppose.

Extreme Ghostbusters attempted to breathe fresh life into a classic franchise, and it was, at least, quasi-successful. It garnered passable ratings for a while, built up a modest little fandom and continues to be well worth checking out not only for the horror content, but for characterizations I have to say I often prefer to the originals. Unfortunately, it failed to launch the kind of rabid phenomenon as its predecessor, and the toy line didn't make enough of a splash to hold sponsor interests.

When the writing was good, it was good, and when it was bad, it was bad, but in any case, the series monsters are some of the coolest and scariest to grace the cartoon world to this day.