If there is one thing that we eagerly waited for as children as much as Halloween, it was waking up early each Saturday morning to catch our favorite cartoons. Ok, so the real answer is probably “Christmas morning”, but Saturday morning cartoons were a close second. For many, cartoons served as our first glimpse of horror images, whether that be from Scooby-Doo, The Groovy Ghoulies, or today’s topic… The Real Ghostbusters!
Author and all-around Halloween fanatic Jeff C. Carter makes his Halloween Horrors series debut to discuss this much beloved cartoon based on one of the most popular (and lasting) horror-tinged comedies ever produced. This particular episode is one that brings multiple horror staples into play, even successfully twisting a few into new, unique direction. I’ll just let Jeff tell you about it. I assure you he does a better job at it than I.
If you wish to experience even more of Jeff’s writing this Halloween season (or any other day), be sure to visit his website, https://jeffccarter.com, where you can pick up a copy of his newest book, We Bleed Orange & Black (available in paperback and on Kindle), which released earlier this month on October 6th! Be sure to check out his other works while you are there (or check his Amazon author page at https://amzn.to/36KHYMp)
No One Comes to Lupusville
By Jeff C. Carter
ORIGINAL AIRDATE: October 5th, 1987
‘The Real Ghostbusters‘ was an excellent primer for a young horror fan. Every week, our favorite exterminators tangled with a fantastical assortment of spirits, monsters, and demons. They even faced off against eldritch Lovecraftian beings!
The single episode that had the greatest impact on me, however, was ‘No One Comes to Lupusville‘, written by J. Michael Straczynski.
In brief, it’s a story where the gang gets hired by a nocturnal visitor, named ‘Gregore’, to meet him the following night in his little known town, Lupusville.
They arrive (sans Slimer!) to meet him on a dark and stormy night, where he offers them a job to destroy the vampires plaguing his humble village. The boys are reluctant, but money talks, so they soon find themselves in the woods blasting an oncoming horde of bat-winged vampires with their proton packs.
Unfortunately, the proton packs have no effect, and it is only the detonation of one of those unlicensed nuclear accelerators that ends the battle, scattering Ghostbusters and vampires alike. Two go with the invading force, who explain that they are merely trying to take back their town from Gregore, a rebellious vampire who has broken with the old ways and seeks to live out in the open among mortals.
Meanwhile, the other two wake up in Gregore’s dungeon. He was allowing them to recuperate, but when Egon sees that they have no reflections, he realizes that they have all been caught in the middle of a vampire civil war.
Gregore insists that they will fight or die, but a local girl drags a discarded proton pack to the dungeon, which allows them to bust out. She also leads them to the cells containing the true inhabitants of Lupusville. The Ghostbusters let them out and tell them to flee, but the villagers vow to take back the town their own way.
Above ground, the two vampire clans attack. Some of the Ghostbusters have modified their proton packs to simulate sunlight and are obliterating vamps. Suddenly, the villagers join the fray. Reunited with the open sky and their beloved full moon, the residents of Lupusville transform into hulking werewolves and start scrapping.
The Ghostbusters jump into the Ecto-1 and put the pedal to the metal. Egon and Ray are afraid that the communicable bites of each monster will create a runaway chain reaction that will fill the town with vampire-werewolf hybrids, and they’re right! Vamps start wolfing out, and huge leathery bat wings begin bursting from the werewolves’ furry backs. It’s a straight up monster mash.
When they hit the outskirts of town, they have one more bright idea. There is a single bridge that connects the remote town of Lupusville to the outside world. Knowing that vampires can not cross running water, the boys don their proton packs and blast a dam. A raging river surrounds the entire town, sealing the supernatural menace away forever.
When I saw this episode as a child, it blew my mind. First, I never expected vampires to show up on The Real Ghostbusters. I certainly did not anticipate werewolves. Seeing both of my favorite monsters in the same story, in frenzied battle, was a revelation. That alone would have made it one of the all-time greatest episodes.
Fortunately, the writers of the shows often went above and beyond the call of duty for a simple kid’s show. J. Michael Straczynski concocted a fairly elaborate plot, with a double cross and a twist. I must confess, even I didn’t remember the full extent of the plot myself until I rewatched the episode.
Furthermore, he played with the lore of vampires and made them mesh with the world of the Ghostbusters in clever and inventive ways. In a nice homage to the scene where the Aliens converge on the panicked Space Marines, we get a scene where Ray is tracking the vampire swarm with his P.K.E. meter. I really liked the ingenuity of tuning the spectrum emitted by the proton packs to simulate sunlight, and the way that he played with the effects of the vampire and werewolf bites was so unique and unexpected. The final plan to contain them all with running water was just the icing on the cake.
I have never thought about monsters in quite the same way after that episode. Like I said, my mind was blown. J. Michael Straczynski continued to pursue wildly imaginative explorations of genre conventions in his other work, like the sci-fi series ‘Babylon 5’ and the dark comic book ‘Rising Stars’. Of course, he is more known for his critically acclaimed work in film and prestige television, but for me he will always be the mad genius that said, “What happens when a vampire bites a werewolf?”