Soundtrack Saturday: “Ghostbusters II”
You don’t know how badly I want to slap the words “Electric Boogaloo” onto the end ofÂ Ghostbusters II (1989). Actually, I think any movie sequel whose title ends with the number two should have “Electric Boogaloo” tacked on.
Think of all the possibilities.Â Grease 2: Electric Boogaloo.Â The Godfather Part II: Electric Boogaloo. Or my favorite, Kill Bill Vol. 2: Electric Boogaloo.
But I digress. Then again, I didn’t really start anything from which to digress, did I? Sorry about that — my brain crossed the streams. (Thank you, thank you. I’m here all week.)
I’ll bet you’re wondering why I’m writing about Ghostbusters II when I haven’t written about the first Ghostbusters yet. Well, first of all, the sequel’s soundtrack is out of print and harder to find than the original’s. Second of all, this soundtrack has BOBBAAAYYY!!! (if you don’t speak cracked-out Whitney, I’m referring to Bobby Brown) and Run-D.M.C. on it. Also, after the serious tone of last week’s post, I wanted to write about something silly. And finally, because I’m still in disbelief that Hollywood’s going to make “Ghostbusters III.“ (I know Pete from Ickmusic and Jason Hare are disappointed that this post isn’t about Short Circuit 2 or Cocoon: The Return, but I hope they’ll get over it.)
If you’ve never seen Ghostbusters II but want to someday, just scroll down past the next eight or so paragraphs — I don’t want to ruin it for you. Otherwise, let me give you a synopsis.
Produced and directed by Ivan Reitman, and written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, who also wrote the first Ghostbusters, the sequelÂ picks up five years after the events of the first film. It follows the titular group of parapsychologists — Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Dr. Ray Stantz (Aykroyd), Dr. Egon Spengler (Ramis), and Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) — as they stage a comeback after being forced to close down because of a lawsuit from the City of New York brought about by their epic battle with Gozer. The lawsuit also incurred a restraining order preventing the team from conducting any further investigations of the supernatural.
When we meet up with our heroes, we discover that Ray and Winston have become entertainers at children’s parties, Egon has stayed in the science field and is working in a lab, and Venkman is hosting a public-access show about psychics. We also learn that the Ghostbusters’ first client (and Venkman’s ex-girlfriend), Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), now works at an art museum restoring paintings and has a baby boy named Oscar.
After an unsettling incident in which Oscar’s baby carriage inexplicably takes off into traffic on its own, Dana calls the decommissioned Ghostbusters for help. Meanwhile, her boss at the museum, Dr. Poha (Peter MacNicol), is possessed by the spirit of Vigo the Carpathian, a 17th-century tyrant trapped within one of the museum’s paintings. Vigo orders Dr. Poha to find a child that he can transfer his consciousness into so he can gain physical form once the clock strikes midnight on January 1.
The Ghostbusters’ investigation leads them to conclude that whatever was controlling Oscar’s baby carriage is originating from beneath the streets of Manhattan. So, they decide the best plan of action is to illegally excavate the street (why not?). After being lowered underground on a wire, Ray discovers a river of pink slime running through an abandoned subway line. Attacked by the slime while obtaining a sample for analysis, he accidentally knocks out the city’s electrical grid, which leads to the Ghostbusters being arrested.
They’re found guilty at their trial, at which they’re represented by tax attorney Louis Tully (Rick Moranis), Dana’s old neighbor. But when the judge’s angry outbursts cause the slime sample presented as evidence to explode, releasing the ghosts of two murderers the judge had previously sentenced to death, the Ghostbusters agree to trap the ghosts in exchange for all charges against them being dismissed and the restraining order being lifted. The judge agrees, and the Ghostbusters are back in action.
After the evil but kind of pretty slime invades Dana’s apartment and attacks her and Oscar, Peter lets them stay at his place while the other Ghostbusters investigate her residence. While doing tests on the slime, the guys discover that it reacts to both negative and positive emotions, but they suspect that the negativity of New Yorkers is what created it in the first place. And when they explore the slime river further, Egon, Ray, and Winston discover that it leads directly to the art museum where Dana works and the painting of Vigo awaits the New Year.
On New Year’s Eve the Ghostbusters take their suspicions about the slime to the mayor, which are dismissed. The mayor’s assistant then has them committed to a psych ward in order to shut them up and defuse what he thinks is a potential political problem. Meanwhile, a ghost resembling Dr. Poha kidnaps baby Oscar, forcing Dana to head to the museum alone to rescue him. But once she enters, the exterior is covered in a wall of impenetrable slime.
As the slime rises up from the subway and onto the streets, the city’s supernatural activity increases, and the NYPD’s emergency lines are flooded with calls from panic-stricken citizens. Realizing the situation is dire and the Ghostbusters knew what they were talking about, the mayor fires his assistant and has our heroes released from the psych ward.
The guys immediately head to the museum to save Dana and Oscar. Their initial attempts to break through the slime wall fail since the negative energy holding it together is so intense. They decide they need to find a way to generate enough positive energy to break the wall, so they use positively charged slime and some good music to bring the Statue of Liberty to life, employing her torch to smash through the museum’s ceiling.
Once inside, the Ghostbusters do battle with Vigo, whose power is growing due to the negative vibes of NYC and the approaching New Year. He manages to temporarily paralyze the team and makes an attempt to transfer into baby Oscar’s body, but the positive energy generated by thousands of New Yorkers coming together to sing “Auld Lang Syne” outside weakens him enough to allow the guys to break free from their paralysis and send the evil spirit back into his painting. Vigo then momentarily possesses Ray, but the other Ghostbusters cover their partner in positive slime, forcing Vigo out, at which point they use their proton streams to send him back into the painting. At long last he’s destroyed, with the painting morphing into a portrait of the Ghostbusters in Renaissance garb.
While I don’t think Ghostbusters II is better than the first one,Â it has its moments. (I can only imagine what the forthcoming “Ghostbusters III” will be like, especially since Aykroyd and Ramis aren’t writing the script, though they did provide some assistance on the recentÂ Ghostbusters: The Video Game.)Â The soundtrack, on the other hand, is great.
Let me qualify that — it’s not great in that I think it’s the most amazing collection of music ever produced, nor do I think it’s better than the soundtrack from the first film. What’s great is that it fits the tone of the sequel perfectly. It seems to me that the producers were trying to appeal to a new demographic by including some hip-hop and rap while still featuring enough music by old white guys to appeal to the same folks who made the first movie’s soundtrack so popular.
I’ve compiled the entire soundtrack for your listening pleasure:
Ray Parker Jr. – Ghostbusters
Bobby Brown – On Our Own
Glenn Frey – Flip City
Doug E. Fresh & the Get Fresh Crew – Spirit
New Edition – Supernatural
Jackie Wilson – (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher
Oingo Boingo – Flesh ‘n Blood
Elton John – Love Is a Cannibal
James “J.T.” Taylor – The Promised Land
Bobby Brown – We’re Back
Howard Huntsberry – (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher
Run-D.M.C. – Ghostbusters Rap
I’m also including the videos for Bobby Brown’s “On Our Own,” which reached #1 on theÂ Billboard R&B chart and #2 on the Hot 100, and Run-D.M.C.’s “Ghostbusters Rap.” TheÂ “On Our Own” video is all kinds of ridiculous …
… and “Ghostbusters Rap” is all kinds of amazing (by “amazing” I also mean “ridiculous”).