The Real Ghostbusters Episode 2: Killerwatt

Killerwatt

Episode 2 and we’ve got a city-wide disaster on our hands, this time involving electricity. The power lines are cooking with live charges and they look as though they’re going to devour some poor guy in the opening sequence before the writers realise they barely got away with crushing dozens of motorists to death in the last episode and should shy away from a close up of a graphic electrocution. So instead the power lines bypass this guy and head on for the city. Phew.

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Like I mentioned in my ‘Ghosts R Us’ review, some scenes in these early episodes were snipped, most likely due to time constraints. The scene involving Ray’s ‘Ferocious Fondue Casserole’, which originates from an old family recipe, was if my memory serves me well, one of the excised scenes. Instead the edited version has the Ghostbusters directly appear at the scene of the ghost chaos, which makes for a faster paced episode, but I love scenes like the one that got cut. It’s these little moments that add to the charm. So anyway, Ray’s ‘food’ looks a little like the goop that the guys get contaminated with in future episode ‘Doctor, Doctor’.  It looks like The Blob. In one shot it appears to have sprouted fur. Ray contravenes good sense and put the saucepan, which has come hot off the stove, directly onto the dinner table without any placemat or likewise item underneath it. This will leave a mark for sure, so don’t do this at home. Luckily, Slimer’s a food tube, so he indiscriminately gobbles the whole lot. Of course, this leads to the expected punchline of Ray immediately serving them seconds after being so impressed with their initial devouring.

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This episode is a game of two halves – the first involves the guys taking on a department store full of possessed electrical appliances, including power drills, irons, ovens and torches, some of which sprout scary fangs and try to eat our heroes. The eternal exchange ‘It’s quiet’/’Too quiet’ or something to that effect is uttered. Oddly enough, even though they seem to be emanating electrical currents, when one of them wraps their frazzled wires around Ray’s mouth so as to gag him, the shocks don’t seem to be harming him at all. They don’t even make his hair stand up on end in textbook-cartoon fashion. I must say that this is a totally unrealistic depiction of what happens when a vacuum cleaner is possessed. These little nightmares prove to be a halfway lethal proposition, almost eating up Egon (whose legs appear to be in full working order seconds later), but they are eventually zapped and trapped, while Ray, still showcasing his over-enthusiasm that led to a chocolate soaked face smackdown in the previous episode, doesn’t realise that all the ghosts have already been trapped and proceeds to zap the living daylights out of a vacuum cleaner where Slimer has been hiding, frying the little blighter in the process. Ray apologies profusely, but Slimer blows him a raspberry, drenching him in spit. He did the same to Peter earlier. Little sod. What’s he doing here with them in this store in the first place? Stay at home you little nuisance.

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Anyway, it looks as though everything’s back to normal and the guys tell the shoppers waiting outside that they can resume purchasing, even though the building is clearly very, very unsafe given that the ghosts took huge, huge chunks out of the floor, and that the appliances they had possessed will certainly need testing for safety. Also, and without being too stereotypical, did you notice that the majority of the shoppers were male? Now, forgive me, but I’d have thought that the gender majority in a department store would have been female. Unless Killerwatt is set on Christmas Eve and all these blokes are making hurried last-minute visits to the shops to buy presents for their other halves.

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So, end of episode, right? No, still just under fifteen minutes to go, and this is where things really come alive. The Ecto-Containment Unit loses power and it looks as though all the ghosts are about to escape, but Egon, forever in his deadpan confidence, has an emergency generator on stand-by to save the day. Cue to this fantastic exchange:

Janine: Oh Egon, you’re such a genius.

Egon: Yes. I know.

Okay, I guess you had to be there, but Maurice La Marche’s delivery here is so deadpan it never fails to amuse me. However, once the generator fails to work (or more specifically, it mutates into a pig and runs out of the basement) and it’s obvious that the ghosts that they’d just trapped were mere small fry (ho ho) and that something MUCH bigger’s out there, it’s clear we’re in big, big trouble, the kind of trouble it’s perfect to end an act on. Act 2 begins with ‘Don’t take this the wrong way, but in fifty seconds, we die.’ Of course, the relationship with real time and the fifty seconds that takes place in the episode’s story is a bit off. Plot-wise, it really is more or less fifty seconds between Egon’s declaration and their last-second escape plan, but in terms of story, an awful lot happens, including Peter managing to successfully buy a bicycle off a girl and Winston removing the generator from the Ecto-1.

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The extended final confrontation takes place in the local power plant, all the while Janine is pedalling like crazy to keep their bespoke containment unit power source (a bike, plus Ecto-1’s generator) ticking over. Slimer’s tagging along once more, if for no other reason than to create danger, as his idiocy causes Ecto-1 to hurtle towards doom with all four Ghostbusters hanging for dear life on the bonnet – his solution? To hide in the glove box. Coward. This leaves the car dangling over a precipice and right within the firing line of our head ghost, who I suppose we should call Killerwatt, even though he doesn’t introduce himself as such until after he’s pimped up his appearance with a lot of metal armour. His introduction, after the obligatory evil chuckle, is quite bold:

“I am the grand ghoul, the ethereal master of many.”

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The he winks, causing a bolt of white hot electricity to attack the Ghostbusters. And of course, we all want to know of who is the grand ghoul this ethereal master is. ‘Many what?’ asks Winston. Well, ghosts, of course! Killerwatt is splendidly voiced by James Avery, best known as Uncle Phil in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and of course, Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He’s also slightly less well known as the voice of doomed general Fang in ultra-bloody Manga classic Fist of the North Star. He’s the one who turns his body into steel so he can crush Raoh’s troops as if they were insects. I love this man’s voice.

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Ecto-1 gets possessed, has a terrifying dental job and tries to kill the Ghostbusters. Peter wants to kill it right back, but Ray hesitates, regarding their four-wheel friend as ‘family’. There’s always a scene like this in horror films, or Deadly Virus of The Week TV Movies, where the heroes must put aside sentimental feelings and kill their once-beloved who is now pure evil. Sometimes they do it, have a cry and then get on with killing the bad guys, or they refuse to believe their loved one is truly dead, go in for a hug or a kiss and wind up getting killed/infected themselves. ‘Killerwatt’ features the only ever instance of this cliché being deployed towards an automobile, and that’s why it works. Amusingly, later on Peter asks Ray if it’s okay to destroy Killerwatt himself, just in case it he happens to be ‘family’ also. Ecto-1’s ravenous pursuit of the Ghostbusters is backed not by suspenseful or exciting music, but by the pop soundings of forgotten house band Tahiti. Read earlier reviews for my thoughts on Tahiti.

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After some epic cat and mouse antics in the huge (seriously, this power plant is HUGE) death trap, the guys come face to face with Killerwatt, who’s having the time of his life watching his electrical servants toying with these four little humans, scooping them up, dropping them from great heights and snatching them from death’s grasp at the last minute. Killerwatt’s laugh is great. He’s evil, he knows he’s evil, and his evil laugh sounds great. So why not laugh all the time? It’s a great afterlife. So infused with amusement is Killerwatt, he treats himself to a makeover, armouring himself with all the nearby scrap and metal he can find and pimping his ride up to spectacular effect, even turning the power plant itself into a concrete monster. Unfortunately, he doesn’t look half as scary here than he did as a floating cloud of electricity. Splendidly, the guys proton packs don’t work with Killerwatt, as he can absorb the electricity and pimp himself up even more!

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It looks as though Killerwatt has the edge, but what follows is hilariously simple:

Winston: The way I figure it, there’s only one chance. He’s drawing all his power from the generators, so we have to shut them down!

Egon: There’s the main switch!

Killerwatt: Stay away from that switch!

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And like that, he’s gone. Slimer’s the one who actually switches the power off, the only useful thing this thing has done for the whole episode frankly. Still, in terms of sheer effort, we must applaud Janine, who’s been cycling all this time, even after all the ghosts have gone. She looks very, very tired and very, very angry. Unfortunately we never find out how she exacts her revenge on the Ghostbusters, but I bet it would have been even scarier than Killerwatt, who proves to be one of the more spectacular monsters the Ghostbusters have faced. Episode 2 is overall hugely entertaining.

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Other stuff

Slimer gives Janine a kiss right on the mouth in a moment that more or less mirrors what happens in the opening credit sequence.

When Ecto-1 parks outside the department store it, for absolutely no reason, performs a spectacular whiplash spin, pulling off about a hundred revolutions in just one second. Hilarious.

Ghostbusters own Ghostbusters key rings. Classy!

After the high body count in ‘Ghosts R Us’, no one dies in ‘Killerwatt’. Nevertheless, there are references to death and dying in this episode. Egon, with the straightest face imaginable, says ‘in fifty seconds, we die’. Killerwatt himself salaciously states that ‘dead bodies are my speciality’. Relatively, these are explicit references to death in an animated era when no one ever went on about ‘killing’ the hero, and death was hardly ever blatantly referenced. It was always about ‘destroying’ them, which means the same thing, but doesn’t sound anywhere near as horrifying, pitching it closer to the realm of fantasy. Not with the Ghostbusters. They could DIE in this episode.

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A solid first half makes way for a fantastic finale, with James Avery always great value as Killerwatt. Funny dialogue too.

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