ghostbusters

Revival House: “Tell him about the Twinkie.”

Thanks to a welcome new trend of special event screenings at certain theater chains, this past year I’ve had the pleasure of revisiting Sixteen Candles (1984) and Back to the Future (1985), the subject of my very first Revival House installment. The latest of these films returning to the big screen is Ghostbusters in selected theaters October 13, 20 and 27.

1984 was one hell of a summer for movie nerds like me. May 23 brought us the highly anticipated Raiders prequel Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, while the following week allowed us to discover what happened after the death of a beloved character in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Back in the day when a film wasn’t considered “dead on arrival” if it didn’t open in the #1 spot, June 8 saw the arrival of two big summer films, Ghostbusters and Gremlins — but that didn’t stop both movies from breaking $100 million at the box office that year.

In the weeks before these four films opened, I remember sitting in my high school Calculus class attempting to draw the logo lettering of all of them with the exception of Ghostbusters, which to be honest I wasn’t anticipating as much as the others. But as it turned out, even though it was a comedy, Ghostbusters (thanks to help from the excellent special effects by Richard Edlund) was as epic in scope as the other films in the summer of ’84.

Ghostbusters is directed by Ivan Reitman, who at the time had previously directed Meatballs (1979) and Stripes (1981), in addition to serving as a producer on National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978). The screenplay is written by Dan Aykroyd (who also wrote 1980’s The Blues Brothers) and Harold Ramis (co-writer of Animal House, Stripes and 1980’s Caddyshack; director of Caddyshack and 1983’s National Lampoon’s Vacation).

Bill Murray’s comedic talent shines as Peter Venkman, a role that was originally conceived for Aykroyd’s Blues Brothers pal John Belushi. Murray is wonderfully deadpan here, reminding me at times of the great silent comedian Buster Keaton, especially his reaction to his would-be girlfriend transforming into a “dog.” Aykroyd and Ramis are also perfect in their respective roles, Raymond Stantz and Egon Spengler, forming a great comedic trio. They are joined later in the film by Ernie Hudson, who ends up having one of my favorite lines in the movie (see title of this article).

Sigourney Weaver, known mainly at the time for Alien (1979) and The Year of Living Dangerously (1982), displays a solid aptitude for comedy as Dana, a woman seeks the help of the Ghostbusters when she discovers a demigod named Zuul in her refrigerator (“Generally you don’t see that kind of behavior in a major appliance.”) Her dweebish neighbor Louis is played to perfection by Rick Moranis. And let us not forget the comedic talent of Annie Potts who plays the Ghostbusters’s occasionally acerbic receptionist, Janine.

There are so many great quotable lines in Ghostbusters, it was actually hard to pick just one for the title of this piece. One of my favorite throwaway lines, when Egon matter-of-factly states “print is dead,” is kind of prophetic now. Let us also not forget such goodies as “He slimed me,” “We came, we saw, we kicked it’s ass,” and of course “Human sacrifices, dogs and cats living together … mass hysteria!”

Pretty much the entire cast reunites for Ghostbusters II (1989), along with director Ivan Reitman, with another screenplay by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. What could go wrong, right? The disappointing results indicate just how difficult (and lucky) it is to capture lightning in a bottle — even with the aid of Proton Packs and an Ecto-Containment Unit.

And by the way, despite my daydreaming back in 1984 about upcoming summer movies in that Calculus class, I still managed to get an A.




  • Millerxhighlife

    i don’t understand the hate for Ghostbusters 2… in my opinion its is completely up to par with the 1st one… some other opinions would be nice

  • http://jackfear.blogspot.com Jack Feerick

    I just rewatched Ghostbusters 2 last weekend, and it’s not terrible… but it’s not great, either. The original ideas, like the psychoactive goo, work pretty well, and I love the Statue of Liberty setpiece. But too much of the film is devoted to rehashing bits from the first one; Dana at the center of an occult plot, the secondary villain who has the hots for her (Louis in the first film, Janosz in the second), the part with the Mayor, the obnoxious bureaucrat, the Ghostbusters-at-work montage. Dana and Peter’s relationship gets reset, too, taking them back to the early days of courtship. Even the character bits seem forced and overfamiliar; Peter’s a cad, Egon’s a weirdo — we get it.

    And Ernie Hudson’s jheri-curl — God and the man Jesus, no. Just NO.

  • Rickygee

    Another great line that has stuck with me comes when the three former university researchers find out they are being let go  – “I’ve worked in the private sector. They expect results!”    I have re-purposed that one so many times…