Tagline: Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!
Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) are parapsychology scientists at Columbia University in New York City. When their grant is terminated due to their unorthodox research methods, the team creates a ghost-exterminating company called Ghostbusters. Ray gets a loan by mortgaging his childhood home for startup capital to buy a rundown firehouse as their headquarters and an old ambulance as their official vehicle. They soon hire a secretary, Janine Melnitz (Annie Potts), and after becoming popular and successful, they hire a fourth member, Winston Zeddmore (Ernie Hudson), who knows nothing about the paranormal. One of their customers is orchestra player, Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), who is complaining of paranormal events in her apartment building.
The Ghostbusters are armed with proton guns that are unlicensed nuclear accelerators and their containment system is also nuclear-powered, which draws the attention of the Environmental Protection Agency and Agent Walter Peck (William Atherton) is sent to shut them down and arrest the Ghostbusters. This releases all of the spirits from the containment system, wrecking havoc on the city and super-charging the ancient Sumerian God, Gozer the Destructor, who is being channeled through Dana’s apartment building. The mayor (David Margulies) overrides the EPA and releases the Ghostbusters with all of the city’s resources and their disposal to combat the destruction of everything.
The team must defeat a city of spirits, Gozer, his stone minion, Zuul, and the Destructor in the form of the 10-story tall Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man in order to save NYC.
“Ghostbusters” is an action-packed and fun-filled supernatural adventure with something for any horror, sci-fi, or comedy fan. This film blends together a bunch of genres and storylines into one somewhat layered yet easy to follow story that will make you smile, laugh, and maybe send a small and pleasant chill up your spine.
As a kid, I grew up watching the American cartoon series called “The Real Ghostbusters” which was based on this live-action movie and ran from 1986 to 1991. I actually saw the cartoon for a year or two before I saw the live action movie, so, for me, my first conception of the characters were the cartoon characters and I expected the movie to live up to that and not the other way around. This totally changes the dynamic of what a viewer expects plus being a kid changes our perception. With that being said, the movie is almost exactly what I had expected it to be based on the cartoon. This means that the cartoon got everything just right and in sync with the original concept of the movie — a refreshing idea in this day of remakes and spinoffs that totally change direction from the original.
Until recently, I had no idea that “Ghostbusters” was written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, two of the starring actors. I knew that Aykroyd was creative and very intelligent but I did not know he could put together such an imaginative and fun story. Of course, his original concept was tweaked by Ramis and another professional writer but his basic premise and ideas are still there. Comedians seem to have their own close-knit groups with many of the same people taking part together in different movies and this is no different, being directed by Ivan Reitman who also directed “Stripes” (1981), another movie starring Bill Murray and Harold Ramis. It’s kind of fun to spot actors and actresses in several different movies together.
The story was very unique and different for 1984 and still is rather unique today because it blends so many different concepts into one conglomeration that, all things considered, never really seems too much over the top. It pulls you into the world of the characters and for a running time of 105 minutes makes you almost forget your own reality and have a fun and wild ride right to the end.
Although it is very brief, I kind of like how Egon pulls some “real” concepts into the movie with talk of the Book of Revelations and the
dead rising from the grave that will lead up to judgment day. He discusses it for only a few minutes but I really love when stories allude to some factual or believed to be factual ideas. Of course, these Biblical concepts are combined with a bunch of fictional and fantastical ideas that make it even more thought-provoking in a childlike way with wild imagination.
I think that many will agree that one of the main stars of the movie is Bill Murray as the funny and sarcastic Dr. Peter Venkman. Even the producers agree because they are not going to green light “Ghostbusters III” unless Murray is on board with the movie again. I really believe that the 80s were his golden years as a comedian when he could pull most of a movie by himself.
Dan Aykroyd as Dr. Raymond Stantz and Harold Ramis as Dr. Egon Spengler are also stars of the movie and they bring a different sort of humor to the movie that complements Murray’s sarcastic humor with their own nerdy type of seriousness combined with some humor that can be most appreciated by sci-fi geeks and others of their kind.
Ernie Hudson seems to have been thrown in as an afterthought as Winston Zeddmore, a character with no knowledge of the paranormal. But his character does provide yet another type of humor that is not as sarcastic as Murray’s but still a bit snarky at times. His character’s role is not as big as in the cartoon, as his character is only brought in after about half of the movie is already over. I have always liked his personality and I’m glad he had a part in this movie.
We really do not get much insight into Annie Potts’ character of Janine Melnitz, the secretary of the “Ghostbusters” but do get some sense of her attraction to Egon. Her voice and appearance is exactly like the character of the cartoon, making me a happy camper.
I had forgotten that Sigourney Weaver played Dana Barrett, the orchestra player who calls the guys in to investigate her paranormal experiences in her apartment. I guess I am used to her playing the rough and tough Ripley in the “Alien” movies and it was a bit of a tough sell to see her as someone needing saving. But she does a fine job and looks pretty hot at the same time.
Rick Moranis as Louis Tully is the one character and actor that I really did not like it this movie. I am not a Moranis fan to begin with because I don’t like his nervous kind of humor. His character brought an annoying slapstick-type humor to the movie that I could have done without but it is a good thing his role was not bigger or he would have ruined the movie completely. Louis was originally intended to be played by John Candy who would have been by far a better choice for the role because he is actually funny! It is a well-known fact that the party scene in Louis’ apartment was all improvised by Moranis and I can tell but, if I were him, I wouldn’t brag about it because it was plain awful.
Later in the movie, Dana is possessed and becomes the Gatekeeper while Louis becomes the Keymaster and you could can kind of figure out what keys are used for with gates — the idea of Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis together is just disconcerting to say the least.
There is a scene with Casey Kasem talking on the radio about the “Ghostbusters” that I found ironic because, for years, Casey Kasem has also been the voice of Shaggy on the “Scooby-Doo” cartoons about a group of teenagers solving supernatural mysteries. It feels like a nod to a similar type of show or movie which is cool.
“Ghostbusters” is rated PG but I think it deserves a little higher rating, maybe PG-13, because there are some adult sexual concepts and language that I did not expect from a live-action movie version of a cartoon. Remember, I did see the cartoon first and the cartoon is definitely PG, so I was definitely surprised. It doesn’t bother me but thinking about small children, I don’t think this movie is completely suitable viewing. I would not show this movie to children under the age of 10 or 11 but any age after that should be fair game.
The only music I remember is the “Ghostbusters” theme written by Ray Parker Jr. because it really sticks in your head. Some viewers might not know that he was sued by Huey Lewis And The News for his song sounding like their song “I Want A New Drug” — some background music is really similar but the lyrics are definitely different. The two settled out of court. Ironically, both Parker and Lewis have, in turn, been accused of copying their bass lines from the 1979 M song “Pop Muzik.” I can hear similarities with “Ghostbusters” sounding about 80% similar to “I Want A New Drug” but both sounding only about 15 percent like “Pop Muzik.” You be the judge with this YouTube video of all 3 songs: “Huey Lewis & The News VS Ray Parker Jr. VS M.”
The SFX are great and not cheesy at all in my opinion. Today, most of the special effects would be CGI but they look pretty real to me in this film without being over-the-top. The lighting and ghost effects are terrific and who could forget the giant Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man that became such an integral part of the “Ghostbusters” logo and especially showing up numerous times in the cartoon series.
“Ghostbusters” is a fun movie for almost everyone that really does not seem too outdated even after 27 years. If you are a fan of the supernatural and all things spooky, you should check this movie out.
The film earned $291,632,124 ($538,260,000 in 2010 prices) in the United States alone, making it the 32nd biggest grossing film in U.S. box office history.
Several characters were originally intended and/or offered to different actors. Louis Tully was written for John Candy, Peter Venkman for John Belushi, Winston for Eddie Murphy, Sandra Bernhard for Janine, and Gozer was originally going to be played by Paul Reubens as a normal man in a business suit.
Gozer: Are you a God?
Dr Ray Stantz: No.
Gozer: Then… DIE!
[Lightning bolts fly from her fingers]
Winston Zeddemore: Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a god, you say “YES”!
Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!
Mayor: All right, all right! I get the point!
Dr. Peter Venkman: Why worry? Each one of us is carrying an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back.
Dr Ray Stantz: I tried to think of the most harmless thing. Something I loved from my childhood. Something that could never ever possibly destroy us. Mr. Stay Puft!
Dr. Peter Venkman: Nice thinkin’, Ray.