I afforded the opportunity to watch director Ivan Reitman’s classic 1984 Ghostbusters flick, it like Gremlins released on the same day, was something I missed at the theaters when I was a child; if one wonders why, wait for my autobiography. Needless to say, I have seen it countless times on the small screen, enjoying every moment of a movie that combines sci-fi, comedy, fantasy and hints of horror, and whichever order you choose it all equals good fun. Reitman’s background shows that he’s only directed one horror film to date Cannibal Girls (1973) otherwise he knows his comedy films and projects tally over 200 credits in just that genre alone. The main screenwriters come from the talents of Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis (RIP) well known for his comedic contributions to Groundhog Day (1993) and Caddyshack (1980), a side note that Rick Moranis added minor portions in an uncredited position. The influence the movie has is incredible from every possible merchandise lane in effect and even in Spirit Halloween stores, to video games and even a documentary called Ghostheads that spoke mainly about the fandom surrounding the movie, hence here in 2019, 35-years later the influence still expressing fans worldwide and another sequel emerges by summer 2020, so it’s time to revisit the classic.
First, what genre is the movie, just because the movie has a ghost doesn’t mean it’s a horror movie, for example Casper isn’t a horror flick, and everyone agrees, just as The Love Witch (2016) caused a stir, yes witchcraft in that film but that’s more fantasy and thriller than straight-up horror, now The Witch (2015) that’s horror. Therefore Ghostbusters is more sci-fi meets fantasy and adventure, and the horror serves as a mere background for clichés and scares when need, but overall it’s 80% comedy with the rest filling in the void to balance the foundation of the film. It’s not over-the-top of that parody like Scary Movie (2000) rather smart lines and scenes, good visuals horror of ghost in the library, who does politely ask the gentlemen to be quiet. In addition, if you take a step further in the #MeToo movement that ghost is well ahead of her time, she responds to their aggressive command of “Get her!” she retaliates in the best way she knew. Lastly, the professors stay light-hearted know too serious would undermine the story and ruin any possibility of success and relating to the audience.
The movie involves Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray (The Dead Don’t Die )), Dr. Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd (Twilight Zone: The Movie )), and Dr. Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis), our three everyday heroes which makes very relatable to the audience; they are university professors specializing in the paranormal. One day Stantz is overly excited about some unusual activity in a library, they investigate, with poor consequences, namely they discovered they’re fired from departments and jobs, though doesn’t seem to shock some of them. Stantz complained about how the real world wants a person to produce, which sounds as if they had been coasting along in the academic world. Maybe they were expecting this to happen. so decide to start a business of removing ghosts wherever they are spotted, first Venkman meets Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver (Alien )) in her apartment which later becomes the haunted apartment as a gateway for hell similar The Sentinel (1977). Their first real job of catching a ghost, occurs with Slimer (inspired by the character Bluto from National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978), portrayed by John Belushi and was to be part of this movie before he passed on) at the Sedgewick Hotel, and from there they become both famous and busy. They then hire Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson (Leviathan )) as a fourth Ghostbuster, as their secretary Janine Melnitz (Annie Potts) is thoroughly angry with the job and conditions. They soon discover that something big is about to happen involving Zuul and Gozer the Gozerian (voice by Paddi Edwards), and somehow the other individuals, namely Dana and her neighbor Louis Tully (Rick Moranis), become part of this evil welcoming with a giant Marshmallow Man crashing the party. Sounds great – let’s watch it again!
So who you gonna call, how about the great cast both main and supporting characters that ideally make the story work, one cannot forget the slimy politician-like EPA Walter Peck (William Atherton (The Girl Next Door )), the sexual innuendo plays out freely and openly with the keyword titles of Keymaster and Gatekeeper reference to Louis and Dana you have an explosive meeting to unlock the door to the other side. Our key three ghostbusters each have their own unique positions, and not one is the well-chiseled man of today’s action heroes, just average thrown into the mix, that enjoys a cigarette, fast food, cold beer and a twinkie. Stantz and Spengler work on the equipment and enjoy some geeky fascinating discoveries and Venkeman is more of playboy who doesn’t like any work, but all three made for hilarious routines and ad-libbing moments, one-liners during the scenes; likely causing nightmares for the script supervisor.
One needs to mention the character of Winston, as he appears in the second act, as he seems less notable in other places, omitted from the movie posters and even some of the collectables, which led to resentment from a portion of the fan base. His role is the outsider, a man with some religious convictions as he hints that the reason they’re so busy lately is something preparing to return an omen of sorts. His involvement as an equal character is a less than ideal but delivers some one-liners, at least he doesn’t die in the film, by the then end of the flick, treated more as an equal than an extra.
First the controversary surround the title song by Ray Parker Jr. musician Huey Lewis sued both Columbia Pictures and Parker over the melody on the copyright infringement of Huey Lewis and the News song ‘I Want a New Drug in 1984; all three parties settled in a non-disclosure agreement in 1995. The movie did receive plenty of good news and reviews, it instantly broke box-office records, and earned Oscar nominations for Best Original song, and Best Effects – visual Effects for Richard Edlund, John Bruno, Mark Vargo, and Chuck Gasper. The sex appeal does occur in the film, but not enough to warrant an R-rating, everything had a measure portion with Dana becoming a hound of hell, which actually she came up with during her audition and hence making it into the final cut and of course Gozer (Slavitza Jovan). While likely to criticize the tech side, again note that they’re viewing it through eyes custom to today’s special effects not those of 35-yrears ago, yet amazing they still hold up likely due to the exceptional editing.
While the sequel had disappointment to many and won’t even discuss the remake/reboot of that had a short-lived jaunt at the box office in 2016. Ghostbusters is great entertainment. Classic comedy that still works today, and while some of the effects might appear dated, the visuals ideally capture the essence of the film, the intention to bring laughter to the core audience that first saw it and to the countless others it has influenced to this day with Ecto-1’s and versions of it making appearances at numerous Horror Cons.
- Here to save the world again. [re-release]
- Let’s get slimed one more time. [re-release]
- They’re here to save the world.
- Coming to save the world this summer.
- We’re ready to believe you.
- Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!
- The supernatural spectacular.
- They ain’t afraid of no ghost.
- The world’s most successful comedy.
IMDb Rating: 7.8/10
Baron’s Rating: 8.0/10
Ghostbusters II (1989)
Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2020)