Ghostbusters arrived in 1984 and quickly became my favourite movie. This hilarious supernatural comedy showcased the talent of some of the most outstanding comedians of the time, including series creator Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and Rick Moranis, who were well known to American audiences with Saturday Night Live and Second City Television. They forged together to create a movie that perfectly blended horror and comedic humour.
The creative forces of Aykroyd and Ramis came up with something very different from other ghost movies thanks to introducing elements of science fiction into the mix. However, the film did undergo a number of substantial rewrites due to Aykroyd’s first draft being rejected by eventual director Ivan Reitman. It was far too long and convoluted, being set in the future and involving time travel as well. One of the first changes was the location, becoming contemporary New York in part due to budgetary concerns.
The swap to New York worked wonders and this can be seen in much of the film with great exterior shots of the city throughout, such as the fire house, the library, and the Central Park West apartment building. These buildings were used for hauntings and other ghostly shenanigans throughout the city.
The apartment building was used for the main story arc of the film in which it becomes the gateway to the temple of Gozer, which is unleashed through the possession of Dana Barrett.
But the ghosts were not the only villains of the piece. The other was in the form of the Environmental Protection Agency lead by Walter Peck (William Atherton). At one point he unwittingly shuts down the protection grid and unleashes the ghost captives back into the city, all to the fantastic tune “Magic” by Mick Smiley.
Ghostbusters also revealed the talent of Ernie Hudson as Winston, a part that was originally written for Eddie Murphy, who had to decline due to filming Beverly Hills Cop.
Another highlight for me was the great Gozer Temple set in which they had to shutdown most of the studio to light it and it used an amazing panoramic matte painting. This is where Sigourney Weaver and Moranis took their places on the stone plinths.
The character of Louis Tully, played by Moranis, was originally written for John Candy, but Candy had to pass on the role and Moranis came through big time. As for Weaver, she’s as beautiful as the orange chiffon dress that she wears. She even brought some ideas to the story as Dana’s possession was born out of her acting out the actions of a woman possessed at Reitman’s apartment.
One of my favourite scenes is where Weaver introduces the audience to her fiery alter ego, the lustful Zuul the Gatekeeper. She tries to devour Venkman (Murray) by engaging in weird foreplay, acting very strange by snarling and speaking demonic tongue, before rising up above her sheets in a rotisserie fashion like meat on a spit. As she turns her dress hangs down beautifully and from that point on I was hooked to her character, with the alter scene she shares with Moranis being icing on the cake. These scenes still hold up today and I look forward to them every time, much like the grave dance scene in The Return of the Living Dead.
The film went on to become a popular cultural icon in its own right. Mass merchandise sales went through the roof and costumed tributes from fans helped maintain the films popularity. There have even been fan tribute films, porn spoof films, and sites dedicated to Ghostbusters fashion. Special screenings of the film continue to bring in audiences to this day.
As for the present, the death of Harold Ramis was a shock to the Ghostbusters community. He was one of the driving forces of the film and that led fans to pay tribute to him all across the internet. His death all but guarantees there won’t be a legitimate third film in the series. However, there is going to be a female lead version of the film, coming next year, and possibly another male lead version beyond that. Will they be faithful to the originals?
Finally, here’s my video review of the 30th Anniversary Blu-ray.